In a NY state of mind

Yep, it’s pretty much all I can think about.  The race next Sunday, wait, this Sunday.  The race is this week!  Six days away!  Right, like I said, it’s pretty much the only thing on my mind.

Still have a ton to do leading up to the race.  Slowly but surely I have been working on my race shirt.  Since I am running for the James Blake Foundation, I have a charity shirt to race in.  Want a sneak peak?  It’s a work in progress, and I have about 20 more names to add to the back.  As promised, any donor who has made a donation gets their name on my shirt.  Hers what it looks like so far.

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So there’s that.  The emails, and communications have been increasing, and I expect a ton more since it’s now RACE WEEK!  The Marathon App is to be released this week, so folks all around the globe can track me during my race.  Will be looking for that communication today.  It will show me as a tiny blip on the race course so that all of my adoring fans can meet me at appropriate places at the right times in a crowd of over a million spectators.

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Can you see me?

As far as the week goes, I still have a ton to do to get ready for my trip.  This isn’t some easy, quick trip either.  It involves about 20 hours in the car, over the course of about a week.  Packing, not only for the race itself is key.  Lots of weather variables.  I am actually glad that I am driving, because it will allow me to pack more of what I might need, and not have to worry about luggage constraints.

So, yeah, I have a meeting time with Staten Island in less than a week.  It’s going to be epic, and a journey I will document in pictures and words along the way.  Can barely contain my excitement!

Oh, and there’s still time to donate to my charity partner.  I still haven’t met my fundraising goal, so please consider a donation today, or sometime this week.  I’ll take my markers with me on my trip so you’ll still get your name on my shirt right up until Saturday night.

You can donate here:

Thank you so much for being a part of my journey to New York.  Many updates to come throughout the week!

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Asheville Marathon Maniac & Fanatic Discount

The world is full of all sorts of challenges.  Inequality, extreme weather and climate change, economic collapse, oil and water shortages, hunger, among many, many others.  Over the last 50 years the human population has nearly tripled, and with that come epic challenges that we all must face as inhabitants of this beautiful planet.  These challenges though cannot be overcome in a day, or two for the matter.  It will take years and years of hard work.  We may never see full solutions to these challenges.  Ever.

Wait…. this post is meant to be light.  It’s about challenges.  So let me change the focus of our challenges to the good kind.  Challenges we look forward to, challenges we take on with gusto.  Challenges we set out to conquer!

I am a runner.   My main goal today is to let you know about a new challenge for the running community. As the population grows, naturally the runner population grows.  We are an ever growing and ever changing group.  We are challenge seekers, and often find ourselves setting higher and higher standards for ourselves.  We can, we will.  Never give up.  A few mantras I’ve heard lately.

In working with the running community and getting to know so many of you through running races and social media, my love for our sport has grown and grown.  When I run a great race, I want to tell everyone about it.  It’s really the reason I started blogging about my running in the first place.  So, let me share with you some news about the Asheville Marathon & Half at Biltmore Estate today.

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This race has grown and grown in popularity in the last few years.  Why?  Location, swag, race course, yes, all of those.  An amazing event which has sold out each year.  For 2016, the races will be held on separate days.  An exciting weekend event.  The Half Marathon on March 12th.  The Full Marathon on March 13th.  But wait!  (Herein lies the challenge I’ve eluded to) Run both!  The Backyard to Vineyard Challenge.  Run both races on back to back days.

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IDaph Events, which puts on this fantastic event (among others), recognizes the need to reward runners of all kinds.  They welcome the first time Half Marathoner, they welcome the very seasoned Marathoner.  They don’t discriminate.  This year they are recognizing those of us who love a challenge.  The Asheville Marathon & Half is now offering special discounts to Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics who may just want to descend on Asheville and take on a new and exciting challenge.

Here are is details….  and discounts…

If you want to run just the Half, save $10 by using code “2016AVLHALFMARATHONMANIAC”

Want to run the Full?  Save $20 using code “2016AVLMARATHONMANIAC”

Run both races?  Take on the Challenge and save $30 using code “2016MANIACCHALLENGE”

I think it’s very cool when a race recognizes the running maniac/fanatic in each of us.  These two groups consist of approximately 24,000 runners worldwide, and growing.  So?  What are you waiting for?  Jump on the bandwagon and score some awesome discounts to run at the Biltmore Estate next year!  They are celebrating us runners, so let’s take them up on it!

Check out all of the details on the race here:  https://www.ashevillemarathon.com

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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!

BQ Ready

I’ve done all I can.  I’ve run set paces, I’ve run hills, I’ve been eating better.  I’ve been hydrating.  I’ve lost about 7 pounds, and feel good.

That moment of hitting the starting line in hopes of running a Boston Qualifier time is quickly approaching.  I’ve already started doubting myself, but I guess that’s only natural.  If it will be, it will be.

This will not be easy!  Getting a BQ is something I’ve never been able to achieve.  Granted, I’ve really only ever realistically tried to run a BQ only once before.  It’s funny for me to even think of it that way, but it’s true.  I really only tried once before.  Last October at Big Cottonwood.  I went into that race just after being sick with bronchitis, and with aching hamstrings.  This time, no illnesses, fingers crossed.  This time no hamstring issues.  I came away with a 3:41 at that race.  16 minutes too slow.

This time I feel more mentally ready.  Let’s face it though, anything can happen on race day!  Anything!  All of the stars must align just perfectly for me to hit my mark.  My best marathon finish to date is a 3:32 at a City of Oaks a few years ago. Just 7 minutes shy of my mark.  I wasn’t even trying for a BQ.  The course was hard, but the weather was perfectly cooperative.  To this day I don’t know how I managed to run that fast on that course.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t stressed.  I ran free.  I ran with abandon.

The Revel Rockies Marathon a week from today will be my 20th marathon.  It’s only fitting I make another attempt to qualify for Boston at this race.  It would be so sweet!

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I am going to give it my all.  If it all falls into place, then I will be as happy as a clam.  Not sure anyone will be happier than me on that flight from Denver to Raleigh later that evening.  I’m going to take it easy this week.  Yes, I have to work the next three days, but I have Thursday off, and fly to Denver on Friday.  I’m going to do some meditation, and try to keep myself very calm leading up to race day.  I have a few slow pace runs planned over the next few days, and of course, my shake out on Saturday in Aspen.  All the rest I have to leave up to chance, and how my body feels on race day.  I’m not an elite athlete, so it’s going to take the race of my life, but hey, I am an optimist.

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Double Agent reporting for duty!

Back when I began my running journey during the Summer of 2010, I had no idea where it would take me.  I truly just started running as a way to get more exercise.  I had turned 40, and didn’t want to let my body go.  Running quickly became my “go to” form of exercise.

It wasn’t like I had laced up to run for the first time in 2010, I had run a few races dating back to 1995, but 2010 is when I really fell in love with the sport.  I turned a mild affection for this form of exercise into a real passion.  I started racing again in 2011, starting slowly.  In April that year I ran a 5k with my sons.  I finished 1st in my age group.  I caught the bug!  Two months later, and two races later, I set my 5k PR which still stands at 20:44.

For some reason, I yearned for more distance.  Two weeks later I ran my first 8k.  In July I found a 10k down at the beach, and made a weekend out of it.  Wow, this distance thing is fun!  Soon enough my brother convinced me to try a Half Marathon.  I trained for the next eight weeks, and in late September that same year, I ran a 1:41:38 in Jersey City, NJ.  Maybe views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan across the river inspired my run.  Loving this!

I wanted to run more halves!  I found another, on Thanksgiving Day.  And since I was going to be in Las Vegas a few weeks later, I decided to run Rock ‘n’ Roll, as well.  So, with a 1:35:33 at the Skinny Turkey Half, and a 1:43:23 in Las Vegas 10 days later, I was hooked.

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I also became a Half Fanatic, 3 in 90 days.  Three different states, too!  My official # is 1699.

The distance bug returned during the next few weeks.  Could I possibly take the next step and attempt a full marathon?  I decided to try.  I trained the next eight weeks, and with a trip to Myrtle Beach, notched my first marathon finish on February 18th, 2012.  I loved it!  I ran two more marathons before the end of 2012.

I continued running halves, but also started seeking out more marathons.  I ran 9 Halves and 5 Full’s in 2013, including my last two races of the year being two Full’s two weeks apart.  I wanted more….

2014 brought five marathons in the first five months, overall 8 for the year, including Chicago and Greensboro just six days apart!

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I decided to finally make it official this week, even though I qualified last year.  My official number is #11142.

So yes, with my MM status, I instantly become a double agent.  A member of both clubs.

I can tell you a few things.  I never started this running journey with any expectations in mind.  I’ve just fallen in love with how running makes me feel.  I never set out to become a member of either of these clubs, but because I love running and racing so much, it just happened.  I guess they are a part of my running resume now.  Looking at my races, I guess I really can be considered fanatical, and now even maniacal about running.

Merriam-Webster-

Maniacal – 1. Affected with or suggestive of madness. 2. Characterized by ungovernable excitement or frenzy.

I am kinda mad about running!

Las Vegas Getaway

Finally after a few bitter weeks at home, and non-stop work, I am on vacation!

Thought I would check in to at least say hello!  A day and a half into my trip I have more money than when the plane landed here.  That is saying something!  So, on the gambling front, I am a net positive.  Good thing!

Wore shorts on Saturday which was a big deal.  It’s colder today, in fact it snowed in Summerlin and the higher elevations like Mt. Charleston.  To me however, based on the temperatures I have had to endure the past two weeks at home, it is balmy here.  High in the mid 50’s today, but back into the upper 60’s to 70 the rest of the week.  I can certainly handle that!

Check out this selfie I snapped prior to my run yesterday.  Had to bring along my Rock n a Roll Las Vegas Marathon shirt to wear for it!

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I even managed to get a 4.1 mile run in yesterday afternoon, at sub 8:30 pace which I am thrilled with.  Having not run in over a week because of my aching back, I felt really good.  I have some residual back pain this morning because of it, I’m sure, but I will deal.  It’s getting better and that is a good thing.

So, while I am having fun here in Las Vegas, I hope you have a great week!

Hilton Head Island Marathon 2015- Race Recap

An absolute whirlwind the past few days have been.  I am still pretty exhausted, but hope to catch up with myself over the course of today and tomorrow.  With the race being on Saturday, I have now had a bit of time to soak it in, so here goes with the story of marathon #17…….

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We left home on Friday, February 6th just before 1pm.  Heading down to Hilton Head from here takes about five hours.  The weather was a bit chilly, but really nice for a drive.  Sunshine and thankfully traffic on Interstate 95 was not all that bad.  The drive down was uneventful.  My son had his headphones on for most of it, so I got to switch my XM channels back and forth between 70’s and 80’s music and CNN.  It was a very relaxing drive.

We got to Hilton Head right on schedule, and drove straight to packet pick up at the Westin Resort in Port Royal Plantation.  This being the first time I have ever run a marathon a second time, I knew that the packet pick up would only take minutes.  I was right!  No muss no fuss.  Into the line, and had my bib, shirt and various freebies in less than two minutes.  My son Colton, got into his line for the 5K, and had his stuff in moments, as well.  There really isn’t much to see at this expo.  A very few vendors, and the only thing I needed was five packets of GU, so thankfully the Palmetto Running Company could fulfill my one and only purchasing need.  We double checked our bib chips to make sure they worked, and we headed out.  The drive from the Westin to my Mother’s house is less than five minutes, so before we knew it we were pulling into the driveway.

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A nice reunion with Mom was followed by a relaxing evening at the house.  We settled in, and had a few snacks as she prepared a dinner of chicken marinara and pasta.  A great pre-race home cooked meal, complete with a salad and garlic bread.  Perfect!  Race morning would come fairly early, so I wasn’t long for the world that evening.  We mapped out our plan for the morning, and we headed off to bed.

I don’t now about you, but it’s especially sweet to be at a destination race, and be able to stay with family.  This doesn’t happen often, but enjoying the comforts of a home while away at a race is very nice.  Thanks Mom!

My alarm went off at 5am.  I had been fairly nervous leading up to this race being my first race in over three months.  I was actually fairly calm when I woke up after a really good sleep.  I made coffee and sat on the deck while it brewed.  The forecast had been perfect.  It was about 38 degrees when I got up, but it was supposed to warm up to about 40 by 8am when the race was to start.  The eventual high for the day was to be about 63.  No clouds, only sunshine.  Couldn’t ask for better.  As I sat with my coffee I was remembering last year at the race.  My performance had been sort of lackluster.  The weather was lackluster with rain, clouds and wind.  This year would be different I kept telling myself.

Mom lives very close to where the race starts, so we didn’t leave the house until 7:15.  Such a huge bonus, this really makes this race worthwhile for me.  There have been times for other races where I have had to leave the house three hours before the start.  45 minutes for this one.  Unheard of!  Before we knew it we were at Jarvis Creek Park, and getting ready to line up.

We have our jackets to Mom who would be there to watch the finish of Colton’s 5k before they headed back to the house for a while before coming back to watch my finish.  The morning was perfect!  Not a cloud in the sky.

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Such a beautiful setting for a race!

After snapping a few selfies, we spotted this woman wearing a shirt I had not seen before.  Hum…  Interesting choice.  Not sure if her butt ran fast or not.

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Promptly at 8am, the air horn sounded and we were off.  I remembered going out a bit too fast last year, so I didn’t want to make the same mistake this year.  We purposely started back a ways but found it annoying to have to weave around slow pokes that had no business being lined up where they were.  It never fails.  I need to publish a runner courtesy handbook so that everyone that races understands proper etiquette.  I encourage all types of runners to race but please, if you walk, or have a pace of 10, 11, 12 or more minutes per mile, you have no business lining up with a 8 or 9 minutes per mile pacer.  You just don’t.

The 5k, Half and Full courses are identical for the first two miles or so, so I knew I would at least be able to see my son for the first bit of the race.  He was in front of me for about a mile and a half before I caught up to him.  I didn’t feel like I was running too fast, but from behind him, he looked like he was just running too casually.  He looked slow.  When I finally caught him, I urged him to speed up.  He pulled off his headphones and told me that he had turned his ankle on a curb trying to get around someone, and that he was in pain.  Knowing he only had about a mile to go, I told him to just give it his best, and ice it after the finish.  I knew my Mom was at the finish and could tend to him if he needed help, so as confidently as I could I passed him.  We had agreed that he would text me his finish time once they got back to the house.  I had to wait.

The marathon course is mostly flat, but has four passes over a fairly substantial bridge over Broad Creek.  Heading into mile 5 is the first crossing.  I felt good going up and over the bridge the first time.  The course changed a bit this year, and the next two miles seemed a bit different to me.  There was actually one spot where we were on a wooded trail.  They had done a nice job of highlighting tree roots on the path with white spray paint.  Otherwise this could have been a very tricky part of the race with proper footing.

At this point in the race I really felt pretty comfortable.  My breathing was good, I wasn’t cold and I felt like I was maintaining a very consistent pace.  Most of the time when I race I switch my Garmin screen view to “pace view” right after the start.  This time I left my Garmin on “overall time”, or elapsed time the entire race except for once.  I toggled over to see my pace at about mile 7 to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it too early in the race.  I was on track.  Under 8 minutes per mile, I don’t remember exactly, but pace felt comfortable.  With a few turns, we were back on the Cross Island Parkway and about to make a second pass over the bridge.

Another successful pass up and over the bridge between miles seven and eight brought us to the point in the course where turned off the parkway and headed out toward Spanish Wells.  I remembered that last year between miles 9 and 10 that it started raining my mood dropped as well as my pace.  I vowed to myself that this wouldn’t happen again.  I felt strong.  I enjoyed the scenery, the live oak trees, the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  Beautiful, huge homes.  Occasionally island residents would be out in their driveways cheering on runners, but mostly they were still in bed, I think.  It was quiet.  Peaceful.  A beautiful morning for a run, and I was enjoying it.

I passed the first timing mat at mile 11.  Crossing at 1:27:54, for an overall pace of 7:59.  I was right on track.  As nervous as I was heading into this race about not feeling prepared, my body was holding up.  Just a few miles later though I started to feel some pain in the top of my right foot.  A familiar pain.  A few years ago I fractured a metatarsal in a car accident, and the pain was just like it.  Maybe I tied my shoe too tight.  Maybe the tongue of the shoe twisted somehow.  I wasn’t sure, but it was very annoying.  I stopped quickly at a water station to adjust it, but it just didn’t work.  The pain was there, and would stay with me the rest of the race.  I just had to try to forget about it and run through the pain.  I knew it was not something that I would have to quit the race over, but it was concerning.

The half way point came and went.  Aside from my right foot all was going well.  I checked my Garmin at 13.1.  My time was 1:43-ish.  I thought to myself “this is going too well”.  Right on track.  My spirits were still in good shape, and I chatted with almost every runner that I past.  I remember thinking somewhere in here that I was surprised I hadn’t heard from my son yet.  Why hadn’t he texted me yet?  I started thinking things like is he really hurt?  Maybe he is in the medical tent having his ankle wrapped.  I was worrying.  Then a few minutes later a “ding” on my phone.  This is what I saw as I drew my phone up to my eyes.  “2nd place age group”.  Wow!  Now I know why it took so long to hear from him.  He placed in his age group and had to wait around for the medal ceremony.  Worth the wait, I’d say!  I wrote “awesome!”, to which he replied “got a medal”.  Then he wrote that he was about to ice his ankle.  He asked me where I was, to which I responded, “mile 14”.

Knowing that all was good with him, I got back to focusing on my race.  Oh, by the way, for those of you who haven’t tried it, it’s really quite amusing to try to text back and forth while running a marathon.  We had agreed before the race that I would let him know via text when I hit mile 20, so that he and my Mom could head back to the park to watch me finish.  My focus was now on the next five miles.  Another trail-type section came up at mile 15.5 as we made our way through a field in Honey Horn.  Another new part of the course with some uneven footing, you really had to concentrate on foot strikes here.  It was a cool change from last year.

The next few miles put us back on the Cross Island Parkway.  Miles 16-18 were tough for me last year, so I knew I had a battle in front of me.  It is a boring straight section.  No spectators, straight into the sun, knowing the third pass over the bridge was looming in the distance.  I tried very hard to focus, but knew my pace was dropping off some.  I was tired.  I was not hot, but I needed some water and had two miles to go before another water stop.  My attitude could have really sucked here, but I repeated my race mantra in my head, “the heat is on”, and started to think of a friend of mine.  The night before the race I read a post on Facebook from a friend of mine in my childhood.  We haven’t had any contact whatsoever since Junior High School, but became friends on Facebook a few years ago because we are both runners.  He posted on Friday night that he had some terrible injuries to his knee through years of playing soccer, running and competing as a triathlete.  I had known this prior and he had some pretty major surgeries to try to fix his knee so that he could once again do what he loved.  He stated in his post that he would never win a marathon, or triathlon but at least wanted to get back to the sports that made his life complete.  That he endured the harsh surgeries and recovery so that he could once again play soccer with his young son, to run around the yard with his daughter, to race again one day.  He had gotten news from his Doctor and physical therapist that day that he was cleared to start running again.  I could sense his relief and joy in his post.  At this darker moment in the race I began to think of him, and to run, not walk for him.  To use his words as encouragement.  To dedicate these next two tough miles to him and his recovery.  It helped me through.  Tim, those tough miles were for you, my friend!  And thank you for inspiring me!

Before I knew it, I hydrated up, and hit the bridge at mile 19.  Here is the one and only photo I took during the race.

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That was my view from the bridge.

I texted that picture to my son along with the words “I Hate Bridge”.  Makes me laugh to read that now, and it perfectly describes how I felt at the time.  Coming off the bridge, miles 19-22 were and out and back through Point Comfort.  Another beautiful area on the island.  More importantly it meant that my final pass over the bridge at mile 22 was coming up.  I crossed the 20 mile timing mat at 2:47:09, again texting my son so they could head toward the finish.  I knew it would take me about an hour from the twenty mile mat to get to the finish.  My overall pace now was standing at 8:21.  Not bad, I thought.

I had to walk a bit up the bridge that last time at mile 22.  Losing time, of course, but it couldn’t be helped.  I just couldn’t manage to run it faster than I could walk it.  So I chose my spots on the uphill, and speed walked twice for about 20 seconds.  I told myself this was the only break I would allow myself to secure a strong finish.

I hit mile 23, done with that bridge for the final time.  It should be smooth, flat and comfortable until the end.  Then it happened!  Out of nowhere, my right foot big toe locked into the straight position.  It cramped up completely.  I had to stop to stretch it out.  I had to get it bending again so that I could run.  It was amazingly uncomfortable and very disheartening.  I had so few miles left to go and now this.  I was discouraged.  I got it going again, and started running although I was not confident at all that it wouldn’t cramp up again.  About a half mile later it happened again.  I stopped, stretched, and started running again.  What a pain, literally!  Must have been my hydration, no other way to explain it.  I thought I managed well, but I must have been a bit dehydrated.  Damn it!  Well, I got that toe to move one last time and made my way to the finish.  I didn’t have to stop again, and just before the mile 26 mark, we veered off the road onto the path around the pond at the park.  The final quarter mile was quiet, no one in front of me, and no one behind me.  Just a serene view of the water, and the finish line on the opposite side.  I knew my son and mother would be there to greet me.

Making the final approach to the finish, a few cheers here and there sprinkled in I saw them.  There they were, waiting for me!  Crossing the line in 3:46:53.  They both had two cups of water for me, which I downed immediately.  The medal draped around my neck, we walked gingerly away from the finisher chute.  I did it!  The last few miles weren’t altogether pretty, but I managed yet another marathon finish.

I really was happy with how I did overall.  We all talked, and caught up.  We walked over to the timing tent to enter my bib number, and this totally shocked me!

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What?  I placed second in my age group?  At a marathon?  OMG!!!  I finished 38th overall, too!  Wow!  I was shocked!

Instead of just grabbing a slice of pizza and heading to the car, winning an additional award meant we had to stay awhile for the ceremony.  So, we walked back to the car to change clothes before heading back to the park.  We found a nice sunny spot and relaxed.  We listened to some music, ate some food and just soaked in the experience.  What a great day!  My son and I both own age group medals, so we couldn’t have asked for a much better day.

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Hilton Head is not only the first marathon I have now run twice, but I may now have to go back for a threepeat.

An interesting factoid about this race….  Hilton Head is a vacation destination mainly, even though my mom lives there.  People vacation there to enjoy the beaches, the golf, the tennis.  The weather!  A lot of residents do participate in races there, but looking at the finisher list in the marathon, one thing is quite clear.  The Hilton Head Marathon is truly a destination race.  The top 10 finishers in the marathon all came from different states.  In order, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Maryland and California.  How cool is that?

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And how cool is it that I walk away from Hilton Head in 2015 with two medals, not just one?