Race Discount Alert

Today until almost midnight (EST)…  The All American Marathon and Mike to Mike Half Marathon is offering a 13% off discount on either race.

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Check them out online!  I ran the marathon this year and it was absolutely one of my favorite races of the year! This race will certainly grow year after year, so make sure to get in on the discount and get in while the registration fees are still on the lower end of the range.

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…and remember, if you can’t get in on the discount today, you can always use the code “13AMB2015” for 10% off up until March 15th, 2015.

Happy Halloween, and happy running!

Hallowed Half Marathon 2014- Race Recap

October 26, 2014 – Wake Forest, NC.  The third running of the Hallowed Half and 10k, put on by Signature Races.  Another beautiful morning for a race.  So many of my races lately have just been the best weather wise, and this one was no exception.  Race morning temps in the low 50’s.

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My drive to Wake Forest is about 50-55 minutes, so I left the house about 5:30.  Race day packet pick up started at 6:30, and there was a bit of a line when I arrived, but only a few minute wait.  Pretty much the only time I ever see the sunrise is when I am racing, and as daylight approached the sky was cloudless.  After getting my bib pinned onto my shirt, I made my way over to find my fellow pacers for the race.

Women wore witch costumes, and tutus, men were wearing a Grim Reaper costume, with a scythe showing the pace on the faux blade.  Here is a shot of a few folks getting costumed up.

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There were about ten of us total.  Unfortunately I was the only pacer for the 1:45:00 (8 minute mile) group, so would have to go it alone.  I have never had to pace by myself, so I hoped it would work out ok.  It’s great when you have a partner or two, trading off holding the pacing sign and just having someone else to keep you on track.

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As 7:30 approached, we got in line at the starting chute.  I was surprised how few folks really aligned up with me for a 1:45:00 finish.  As you can see by this photo, no one was willing to get in front of me until the last minute before the race began.  I stood quite a ways back from the starting line, where I snapped this picture.  I guess the ultra fast runners were still stretching.  Lol. Here is a photo looking behind me, and believe me, there were plenty of runners lined up.

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Lots of folks in costume, the race began moments later.

When I say that this race is hilly, I really mean it.  Being the third time I have run it, I knew what to expect. I knew what to expect, but really wasn’t prepared.  On tired legs from six weeks worth of mega racing, I was just hoping for a nice even paced race.  My right ankle had been giving me pain for a few days prior to the race, and right off the bat I was giving me fits.  As I adjusted to running in a costume, and carrying an extremely long pace sign/scythe I tried to find my pace.  Half a mile in I was at 8:30 pace, working my way to that magical 8:00.  By the end of the first mile, I was there.  On pretty much the only flat portion of the race course it was obvious that if I had a pace group, they were too spread out at this point to really tell.  The only person matching my steps was a woman dressed as Cat Woman.

A few miles in, we turned east and were running directly in the sun.  Although a cool morning, the sun warmed me up quite a bit.  Running in the sun coupled with having a black hooded costume on, I quickly starting sweating.  I knew that wearing that costume would not last long.  My only running companion was matching me step for step.  Pace was even, and right on the money.  We chatted a bit.  I have her tips on what was coming up on the course.  She told me that if she hung with me, she would get a huge PR.  Her current PR at the Half distance was 1:53:00.  Without saying anything, I knew this would be the race of her life if she could maintain the pace over the course of the hills knowing she had never run that fast before.  This is not really a PR friendly course because of the difficulty.  I had my fingers crossed for her though.

Big hills, big!  Traversing these babies at an even pace was massively difficult.  As the miles progressed I was becoming too hot in that costume.  As we approached the second water station about five to six miles in, I decided it was time to ditch it.  I still had my pace sign, which would have to suffice.  I threw that costume to the curb, and quickly cooled down quite a bit.  Mile 7, 8 then 9.  More huge hills, I lost a few ticks on the pace.  Knowing I would have to make up the time on a downhill, I pushed onward.  It was at about mile 9, on a long uphill stretch that my only companion, Cat Woman, would finally fall back.  She had to walk.  I knew it would happen eventually, but I gave her huge props for sticking with me that long.  I was now alone.  If I hadn’t been pacing this race, I would have run it very differently.  With two previous races on this course, both under 8:00 mile pace, I was struggling more this time around.  I know it was due to the fact that I ran those uphill portions at an even pace, just the same as the downhill portions.  If I wasn’t pacing, I would have taken it more easy on the uphills, and taken more advantage of the easier downhills.  Oh well, nothing I could do but press on.  Alone.

Nearing the haunted trail portion of the race, my pace had slipped to 8:04 overall.  Then, the dreaded Garmin event happened.  Yep!  I had been switching the pace sign between hands every so often because of the weight of it.  The breeze also kept blowing the blade, which made it even more difficult to carry.  I was so tired of holding it, and didn’t have another pacer to hand it off to for some relief.  This time, in switching hands the pole bumped my Garmin and there went a beep.  Omg!  My Garmin reset.  Now there I was, knowing that I was already behind pace, and losing my one way to keep track of getting that pace back.  I was doomed, I thought.  By this point though, I didn’t have a sole running with me, and as we merged in with a bunch of the 10k runners, I couldn’t really tell who was running what race.  many folks I passed were walking, having been totally beaten up by the relentless hills.  I figured I would just have to finish the best I could.  I had no idea now what my overall pace was, and with a long uphill finish, there was no way I was going to hit my mark.

If I had another pacer with me, it would have been the failsafe I needed.  I didn’t though.  Miles 10, 11 and 12, I just tried to keep as even paced as I could.  I knew I was losing more time on the uphills.  Eventually with a half mile to go, I just told myself to go as fast as possible.  That uphill finish is daunting, and will test your will.  With the finish line in sight, and still no one running with me, I crossed the line in 1:47:01.  Yeah, my fastest Half this year.  Not my goal pace, but only 10 seconds per mile off.  I can blame it on several things like my Garmin fail, the lack of running with another pacer or two, the costume or whatever.  But I won’t.  The fact of the matter is that I just didn’t hit my mark.  Last year I ran this race in 1:39:00, and after crossing the finish line completely drained of energy, wondered how in the world I ever had a time like that on this course.  It was tough!

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After collecting my cool medal and some water, I wandered back to the finish line to hopefully see Cat Woman finish.  I was dying to find out if she would get her PR.  Low and behold, she soon crested the final hill to the finish line.  I cheered her on, as she crossed the line just under 1:50:00.  She did it!  A PR by over three minutes on this difficult course.  She was the only person I was basically pacing, so I felt that my work, for at least the first 8-9 miles that she hung with me, was well worth it.  I found her to congratulate her.  She was thrilled.

I hung around the finisher village for about an hour after the race, just soaking up the morning Sun, and talking with fellow runners.  I may not have hit my mark right on point, but I was pretty damn close.  Pacing is a lot of fun, but this race was the most challenging pacing job I have ever had.  I had some obstacles on race day, but managed the best I could.

The tombstone medal opens!

The tombstone medal opens!

The Hallowed Half is such a fun event, and will look to return with a vengeance next year to give those haunting hills another go.

...and reveals just how I felt after I finished the race!  Lol

…and reveals just how I felt after I finished the race! Lol

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Eight Minute Mile

Seems pretty simple, right?

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As I sit here on a Sunday morning, another race day awaits.  Coffee in hand, considering the race ahead.    The Hallowed Half, my third year running it in a row.  I don’t think, in fact I know I haven’t run any other race three years in a row.  This race is cool, has great swag, and is just an all around fun time.

The 8:00 mile pace is what I am shooting for today.  I am pacing this event, gunning to bring my group to a 1:45:00 finish.  We have a beautiful morning for it.  Temperatures are in the upper 40’s right now, going up to about 70 today.  Yep, it’s almost November and we still have really nice weather.  Thankfully!  It’s actually supposed to get up to 80 on Tuesday.

Not sure why, but I have been nursing a wonky right ankle the past few days.  It actually feels like I pulled something.  I must have done it at work, because I didn’t feel this during my marathon last weekend.  Advil is my friend though, so hopefully it will calm down prior to the race.

I will be sure to take pictures, and put together a recap of the event tomorrow.  I have one goal today.  Even though I haven’t run an 8:00 minute pace lately, I am more than capable.  Last year I finished the race in 1:39:00, a full six minutes under what I am shooting for today.  Should be a breeze, right?  As long as my ankle holds up, we will conquer the hills of Wake Forest today, and have a blast doing it!

As we run our Halloween event today, I will be thinking of the many thousands of runners toeing the line at the Marine Corps Marathon in our Nations capital.  Good luck to all of you!

Clown Caboose

As we approach Halloween, and all those beloved Halloween themed races that we all love to run, here is some motivation to run those races as quickly as you can!

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I don’t know if any of you watch the show, but this clown is a character on American Horror Story.  The new season began a few weeks back, and right from the get go has you lured in to evil in the form of this clown.  Meet Twisty!  Imagine waking up and seeing this thing at the foot of your bed.

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A clown truly to give nightmares.  I have never been a big fan of clowns, and as it turns out, are not very popular at all.  More people are afraid of clowns, or dislike them, than are fans.  Yeah, Ronald McDonald is pretty tame, but he has to be.  He’s trying to sell burgers and fries and shakes.  Twisty ain’t no Ronald.

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As you line up this weekend or next at that Halloween race picture Twisty bringing up the caboose, chasing you to that new PR.  I will, as I try to bang out my fastest half marathon of the year this Sunday.

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Tell me, are you afraid of clowns?

Halloween Racing

What do you think of holiday themed races?  Do you run them?  Like a Santa Hustle, Turkey Trot, Halloween Half, Firecracker 5000?  It seems that more and more these days themed events can be found at almost any time of the year.

The past two years I have run the Hallowed Half in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  Put on by running friend Sharon, of Signature Races, this is a growing event about to take place for the third time this Sunday.  Most runners will don some sort of costume or themed running clothes to race in.  It’s really a blast of an event, which also includes a 10k, as a less scary option.  The Half Marathon is packed with rolling hills, and both races feature a haunted trail about a mile long filled with ghoulish decorations and costumed volunteers to entertain the runners.

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In 2012 (the inaugural year) I ran the Half in 1:44:49, and in 2013 I ran the Half in 1:39:00.  Seems that having some experience on those hills helped me the second year.  Well, this year I will be pacing the 1:45:00 group (8 minute mile).  I am excited to once again pace a Half Marathon, especially one this fun.

The shirts and medals have been great both years, and no doubt will be again this time around.  There are very few races that I compete in year after year, but this is one of them.  Looking forward to a hauntingly good time.

The center spins!

The center spins!

This one is a coffin, and opens and closes on a hinge.

This one is a coffin, and opens and closes on a hinge.

What about you?  Are you running a Halloween race this weekend or next?  Share any stories about great holiday themed runs that you have done?  Feel free to share, as I’m sure there are many.

Hallowed Half -Race Recap

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10/27-  Hallowed Half Marathon, Wake Forest, NC.  This event also has a 10K option.  This being the second year of this event, it did grow in numbers.  The Half had 273 finishers, and the 10K had 153.

This event takes place about an hour north of where I live.  With traffic being practically non-existent at an early hour, I knew I could drive there in about 45-50 minutes.  Unlike last week, when I overslept on race morning, this time my morning went off without a hitch.  Up at 4am, and out the door by 5:45.  The drive was stress free, and I just woke up feeling good.  As an aging runner, I do wake up every morning with some stiffness and aches mostly in my ankles and feet.  The joints just do not behave as well as they used to.  My daily regime of fish oil, I believe helps.  Anyway, usually within an hour of moving about, the joints loosen up, and race day it is very important that I have that time to get loose.

I arrived at The Factory parking lot right on track for packet pick up.  Sharon, with Signature Races, had a great set up.  Lots of parking, tons of vendors, and happy faces on volunteers setting up.  No line at packet pick up, which was awesome.  Quick, and easy.  Back to my car to relax a bit, and change.  The temperature was about 50 degrees, pretty much a perfect morning.  As the sun came up, the sky had a few wispy clouds, and abundant sunshine.  I got myself ready, laced up the shoes, and grabbed a Clif Bar.  I hit the restroom one last time, and moved to the race starting area.

This being a Halloween themed race, I would say about half of the runners were dressed for the occasion.  I saw plenty of costumes, face paint, etc..  I wore last years race shirt.  The starting chute was pretty relaxed.  Lots of folks milling about, and when pace leaders took their places, the runners really stepped into place.  After the National Anthem, we were off.  This is a very hilly, and challenging race.  Due to the fact that I ran this race last year, I knew more what to expect, and when.  I started fairly close to the front of the pack.  The leaders quickly disappeared after a few turns.  I settled into a great pace right from the start.  I really think that being a pace leader last weekend at the Bull City Half, helped me.  I learned a lot from that experience, plus conditions were just perfect for getting into a great rhythm quickly.

This course takes runners in and around Wake Forest.  Being a fairly small town, this means you get to see quite a bit of it!  Old downtown area, the seminary, the country roads and hills, as well as a lot of new developments.  Due to the nature of this course, there really was not a lot of spectator viewings.  Very little.  The aid stations were prepared, and gave encouragement along the way.  So many parts of the course are just really tough, and there are quite a few really long uphill sections.  Challenging all runners.  The hills really begin after about 4 miles.  Until the first big challenge, my pace was sitting nicely at about 7:30.  After a nice downhill, I got it down to 7:25.  I made it all the way to mile 8 before my Garmin ticked above 7:30 overall pace.  I really tackled all hills with a vengeance.  I was pleased.  Around mile 10, after summiting probably the toughest hill on the course, runners head into a subdivision, and then onto the “spooky greenway” portion of the race.  Filled with volunteers dressed as zombies, etc.., and plenty of spooky decorations hanging from trees and on the trail, even a fog machine, this is such a fun change of pace in the race.  There didn’t seem to be nearly the same number of costumed volunteers on the greenway this year.  A little disappointing.

Coming off the greenway portion, you head back out of the subdivision, and to a main road, which this time you get to run back down.  Passing runners doing the 10k, heading up the hill, I offered much encouragement.  My race was almost over, but they were on the toughest section of their race.  The last mile of the Half is a slow, enduring uphill.  Not a huge grade, but just enough to feel it in your calves as you come to the end of a 13.1.  The same couple of guys I was running around the entire race we fighting for position over the last half mile coming into the finish.  I got close to passing a few, but missed by just seconds.  I came in at 1:39:00.  I was amazed to see that I finished 18th overall.  I really thought that there were more runners in front of me.  Interesting though that I was within 10 seconds of finishing 4 spots higher overall, and that the runner finishing after me in 19th place was a full 2 minutes and 7 seconds behind me.  That is a huge gap.  So I was the last runner in the race to run sub 1:40:00.  My finish was a top 7%, and still 5th in my age group.  Male 40-44 is so competitive!!!  Overall I am very pleased, and beat my goal to finish better than last year.

My most prized accomplishment In this race?  Finishing a Half Marathon in under 1:40:00 for the third time!  Although this race was not a PR, it sure felt like one,  It was almost 30 seconds per mile better than my race last year, and the fastest Half I have run since setting my PR of 1:34:36, at the Goldsboro Heart n Sole Half Marathon on 2/4/12.  So excited about that!

It was a great day!  Completing this race, I was awarded the Fall Triple Crown.  The completion of three local Halves this Fall.

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The event medal was cool, as well.  A coffin that opens to reveal a skeleton.

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This was my final Half marathon of 2013.  My 9th this year.  It has been a great ride!  I feel confident going into this weekends City of Oaks Marathon.  Here’s to another week of fairly low mileage, and letting my legs recover for the long 26.2 ahead this Sunday.

Thanks Hallowed Half for another great event!  See you next year.

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Halloween Race Bling today!!!

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I just rocked my final Half Marathon of 2013.

I finished 18th out of 273 Overall.

I finished 18th male.  No females beat me!  Fancy that!

I finished 5th out of 31 in my Age Group.

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The most thrilling part of all, is that this is a very hilly, tough course.  I managed (oh yeah), today, to run my fastest Half of the 2013, and on my 9th one this year.  I finished in 1:39:00 flat!!!!!!!  That is my third fastest Half to date, so I am ecstatic about it.  I maintained a pace of 7:30 or under all the way up to a gigantic hill at mile 8.

So, I am just thrilled today with how the race went.  I am right on track for two marathons over the next three weeks.  I would say that I am as ready as I can be.

Hey, what do you think of the Halloween coffin medal I got at the finish?  It’s hinged, and opens to reveal a skeleton.  Run in Peace, instead of Rest in Peace.  Pretty slick!

Upcoming Hallowed Half Race

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This coming Sunday I will be running a really cool event.  This event began last year, in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  This years race promises more themed race swag, a very cool medal, and plenty of spooks and scares on the greenway portion of the Half Marathon route.

Have you ever run a Halloween themed race?  Last year was my first, but it was very enjoyable, so much so, that I have to return for the challenge again.  This race course is no joke either, it has plenty of its own scares even without the costumed volunteers that will be out on the course ready to creep you out.  I was suffering PF last year during this race, and this year I am not, so maybe the hills won’t seem as difficult.  Well, from what I remember, it will be tough regardless.

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These images are from the race last year.  The haunted greenway will give you chills and thrills, as you run through the most fun part of the course.  The volunteers really got into it!  As you can see!

Last year I ran the race in 1:44:49, which was good enough for an overall finish in 25th place.  I placed 6th in my age group.  I ran injured last year, so I hope to do at least marginally better this Sunday.  Knowing what to expect this year may also be to my advantage.  I know where the tough sections are, and can plan my pacing strategy better.  I hope the event is more widely known about this time around.  Last year the Half only had 136 finishers.  It really is a great race, so I hope there is a bigger turn out this year.

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The weather forecast is a bit daunting.  When I arrive in Wake Forest on race morning, in the dark, the temperature is supposed to be around 40 degrees.  Brrrrr…. time to get used to running in the cold again.  I have to break out the arm sleeves, and warmup suit for prior to the race.

Are you participating in any Halloween themed races this year?  I’ve heard about so many fun ones.  I will post a recap of the event with pictures of the medal, shirt and more next week after the race.  Have a great week, and Happy Halloween racing!Image

Halloween Racing

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Does anyone else have a Halloween race to run this year?  Last year was the inaugural Hallowed Half, in Wake Forest, NC.  A local event, about a 45 minute drive away.  The course was tough, very hilly, but tons of fun.

The RD goes all out and all of the volunteers dress up for Halloween, and there is even a section on the course that is completely haunted.  Decorations everywhere, zombies, witches, mummies, vampires, everywhere.  During the race.  I think it comes around mile 9, when leaving a neighborhood, and heading out onto the greenway through the woods.  A haunted forest, if you will, and you run through loads of volunteers haunting the path.  Very cool.

I planned on running this event again this year, and it got me thinking…. Does anyone else get lucky enough to run a Halloween themed event of any kind?  I would be interested in hearing about them.

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The race swag was pretty cool, and the possibilities are endless with a themed event like this.  This is my spinning medal from last year.  The RD promises an even bigger and better event this year.

Happy Halloween racing to you!

Fantastical Fall Racing

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The merry go round continues

With less than 5 weeks to go until the Asheville City Marathon, training continues along the right path, and sometimes feels repetitive like riding a carousel.  Last week was a shorter distance week for my training plan.  This week cranks back up a bit.  I managed 4 runs with a busy schedule last week.  I ran 24 miles total.  That was following a long run of 15 miles that concluded the week prior.  Today will start out with a 10 miler, and the week will end with a 17 miler over the long weekend.  Overall mileage for the week will likely near 40.  I am ready, I feel pretty good.  Except the the nagging corn on have on the base of my pinky toe on my right foot.  That thing is annoying as hell!  I have to dig it up, and cut around it with nail clippers at least once a week.  I just don’t think it will truly go away until I take a few weeks off.  That is not happening anytime soon.

My mileage for the month of August so far has been right where I want it to be.  Following 108 miles in July, I am on track for about 130-140 this month.  Before today’s 10 miles, my mileage stands at 94.  It makes me feel pretty confident in being able to knock out this extremely busy Fall schedule I have lined up.  It all begins with a Half Marathon on 9/21….

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Yes, the Johnson Lexus Half is now just 26 days away.  This is my next race, and final warm up to my first marathon of the Fall season in Asheville.  Thanks to some odd luck, and maybe the planets aligning just right, I am able to spend a few extra days enjoying the mountain city of Asheville on my upcoming trip.  Originally I planned on driving up on Friday, hitting the Expo, getting a healthy dinner, waking up the next morning, running the marathon, and then driving the four hours back home.  Now the plan is to find better, and more relaxing accommodations, and stay the weekend, returning home on Monday.  These plans are still up in the air, trying to nail them down in the next day or two.

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Be good to me Asheville!

Once returning home from Asheville, I will have less than a week to prepare for RunRaleigh Half on 10/6.  This is a great course in downtown Raleigh, using nice portions of the greenways.  Last time I raced this course, I finished in 1:40:21.  Pretty sure I won’t be able to crank out that speed the week following a marathon, but I’ll give it a good go!

Two weeks after that is the Bull City Race Fest.  This will be a first time race for me, and should be a lot of fun.  This event also includes a Food Truck Rodeo afterward, so how could I pass this one up?  Plus, I signed up for this race months ago when it was ultra cheap!  I’ve heard the course is pretty hilly, so it should be right up my alley.

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I hope they have bumper stickers to give away!

Just a week later is another Half Marathon in Wake Forest.  Another hilly race, and fun because it is Halloween themed.  Last year I ran this race injured, PF flair up, and I am looking forward to running it healthy this year.  The racing calendar closes out for the year with a bang!  A real one, two punch!!!  Two marathons, in 14 days.  The Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon….on 11/3.

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Hometown run

…..and then the last minute addition to my 2013 calendar, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon on 11/17!

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Downtown Vegas neon

I am so excited for each and every one of these races!  I am very pleased with how my body has held up this year with all of the training, and distance racing I have already done.  If all goes according to plan, I will wrap up 2013 in Vegas, with 9 Halves, and 5 Full’s.  That will exceed my 2013 goal of 13.  A real cause for celebration, and a great lead in to 2014.   I have my sights set on a few races already in 2014.  A Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon here at home on my 44th Birthday, another crack at the Blue Ridge Marathon, and a beach Marathon early in the year.  The rest will come into focus soon enough.  My concentration now has to be the successful completion of a great year of running for me.

How are you coming along with your 2013 goals?  Will you meet or exceed them?