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!

 

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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!

Herald of Victory Marathon -Recap

The long and curious absence from my blog can be summed up in one word….

BUSY

Well, many words can actually describe my absence.  Packing, moving, job change, vacation, graduation.  They all equal a complete and total lack of time to blog.

Well, I’m back.  Let me catch you up on a few things.  I celebrated the graduation of my youngest son a month ago with family in town and a very expensive dinner.  We had a blast.  The most important thing being that my son enjoyed every moment of it, and is just about six weeks away now from walking onto his new college campus to start classes for the next phase in life.  I’ve been getting myself used to not seeing him as much, as I have given him a lot more independence this Summer.  He takes the reigns on his own life very soon.  Sad, but true.

In the midst of everything, I had a trip to see my Dad in NY, and to run marathon #27. My Dad and I had a blast together.  The marathon?  Maybe my toughest one to date.  I can sum up the race in one word…  Well two,….BEASTLY HOT!  Seriously, the race was the day before Memorial Day, usually a moderate temperature time of year for upstate New York.  Not to be.  It was hot and humid my entire four day visit.  Topped off with race morning temperatures in the low 70’s, and about 92 degrees by the time I finished.  I normally don’t race just to finish, but I race that day with the goal of surviving the heat and living another day.  It worked.  Get this, the Herald of Victory Marathon was an inaugural race.  Never done before, but so attractive to me because it gave me a chance to run a marathon where I grew up.  Even though the conditions were excruciating at times (most of the time) I had a smile on my face and a positive attitude from start to finish.  I knew I would finish, even in those temperatures.  I took it easy from the very beginning, thoughts of not wanting to have nothing left in that kind of heat 20 miles in.  I finished.  I ran through Binghamton, Vestal, Johnson City, Chenango Forks, over bridges, through beautiful parks, past cheering spectators in utter and complete appreciation for every volunteer along the way keeping me hydrated and pumped up and energized.

With a finish time of 4:30:33 (a personal worst), the Herald of a Victory Marathon was a huge victory for me personally.  Victorious over another grueling 26.2 mile run.  I managed my race very well from start to finish.  I owned it!  Believe it or not there were only 8 finishers under the 4:00:00 mark.  Eight!  A race with 113 finishers in 90+ degrees, I finished 24th.  My worst time, but a stunning accomplishment on the day.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a runner, fighting conditions, letting my body and mind do the work.  I never cramped, I was never overcome by the heat.  I did the right things that day and made it to the finish with a smile, my Dad welcoming me over the finish line.

Since that day I’ve only run once.  Once in six weeks. I needed a break.  Five marathons this year, my muscles and really the rest of my body needed a break.  Time to relax and rejuvenate.

I promise I will be better with my blogging, too.  Back on the streets today for a run, and back at the blogging game.  So, how have you been?  Are you enjoying the Summer?

Here are a few pix from my NY trip before I head out on errands today.

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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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Running New York

Someone once told me that selling a house and moving is one of the most stressful things in life to do.  I completely agree!  I have been in the the middle of this stress for the last three months.

After making the decision to go ahead with plans to sell the house (youngest graduating in a few weeks) and downsizing, a lot of work was in front of us.  We painted and updated almost every room in the house during spare time from work, projects taking just over two months.  Contractors taking care of things we couldn’t, mostly on the exterior and yard.  Going through everything in the house from top to bottom, organizing, packing, throwing things away, donating others.  Cleaning, staging, and finally listing the house.

We had an offer in 1 day!  1 day!

Now it’s go time!  I thought the tough work was done?  Oh no, there’s more to do.  Now to do final organizing, and packing everything else that hasn’t been packed.  The scheduling, finding a new place, yep, this is stressful.

I’ve only moved once since my college days.  Because I took a relocation opportunity with my employer at the time, the selling of the house, the packing, the moving, were all done for me.  Not true this time.  That was 17 years ago.  Fast forward to now, and not only am I much older, but much less forgiving.  This has been a very hard process!

I’ve been in my attic four out of the last six days, going through boxes, uncovering things I had forgotten all about.  I am tired!  I did uncover some true gems though….  like my High School letter jacket, old vinyl albums, tennis trophies from my younger days of competitive tennis, scrapbooks, and countless photo albums and pictures from a life that seems a lifetime ago.  Treasures really.  I found my class ring, and I found this, which I had no idea I actually saved.

Introducing, an artifact from 21 years ago.  My first race bib!

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I don’t remember that I ever kept it, that was the most surprising discovery of all the last few days.  My first ever race, back in 1995.  A race in Batavia, NY.  A 10k.  I have no idea what my finish time was, believe me, I’ve tried finding online results, they just don’t exist.  I just remember that day in July being scortchingly hot, and running my heart out til I almost collapsed.  I have the race shirt somewhere, too.  I just can’t find it, but one day I will.

This journey of packing up my life to move has really been eventful.  I’ve dusted off some old memories (even popping in a few Prince cassettes, yes cassettes, into the tape deck to listen to) while I worked at cleaning up my life in the house.  It’s now time to finalize my life here, where my kids grew up, and start a new journey.  It’s all bittersweet, but looking forward to this next step in life.

Once I finally have a permanent new home, that race bib will be the first one hung.  That bib signifies a running journey that began so long ago.  As the final days approach before my 27th marathon, having stolen a peek at where my running days began kind of brings this race full circle.  Even though my upcoming Herald of Victory Marathon in Binghamton, NY will be in a different city from my first foot race, it will still be in the same state where it all began for me.  Back on the streets of New York.

Why do YOU run marathons?

I’ve read article after article about the reasons why someone should run a marathon.  Every article seems to list a top 5, a top 10, a top 3 reasons why you should.  But, for me the reasons why are just too numerous to count.

It’s all very personal.  Don’t you agree?  I want to push myself further than I ever thought possible, I want to run it to raise money for charity, I want to qualify for the Olympics….the list goes on and on and on.  Some may say they want to run a marathon simply to say they did.  Some run for time, some run for fun.  Some even walk.  I want to hear from you!

I’m going to blog about my readers’ top reasons to run a marathon.  More of a personal approach.  Real life, real runner reasons.  I’m going to compile YOUR reasons to run and blog about the TOP 5!

I’ll start things off with my top reasons…. why I run marathons.

  1.  Inner sense of accomplishment
  2. Clarity of mind
  3. Pushing my physical limits
  4. The break it gives me from “real life”
  5. Creating my own legacy

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Have you ever given it a lot of thought?  Maybe you just run to run, because you love it.  But why?  Why do you love it?  Please share your thoughts…

On the eve of my 27th marathon these thoughts cross my mind.  I often ask myself why I do this, and sometimes the reasons do change from race to race, year to year.  One thing remains true for me, the marathon is epic!  Running a marathon is no small feat and should be celebrated by all who complete one.

Tarheel 10 Miler 2016- Race Recap

Now a few weeks past, I have just a few minutes to try to recapture some thoughts and moments from my second running of a huge Triangle event.  The Tarheel 10 Miler and 4 Miler were run on the beautiful (and difficult) Chapel Hill streets on April 23rd, 2016.

An event that draws thousands of runners every year, we converged on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill bright and early that Saturday morning.  For me, it’s about a 50 minute drive, which means I left the house before 6am.  I think I was parking about 6:30, for a meet up with my son, and eventual meetup time with the pacers at 7:15.  Everything about the morning was smooth, except for the temperatures.  It was a bit warm.  Anytime you schedule a race later than mid May around here, it’s a complete crap shoot as to the weather.  It could be 50, it could be 70.  We were flirting with race day temperatures just a tad too warm.

We met at the iconic Belltower on campus for photos and quick meeting.  My first time pacing this event, but have paced two other races (both Bull City) for this team.  With a new race course, which promised more of a flatter run, and the dreaded 1 mile uphill climb near the finish, I didn’t notice much about the new course that made it easier.  In fact, I ran it faster two years ago.  Laurel Hill is the finishing challenge, and after fighting the warmth of the day, and mile markers which were all over the place, I had very little gas left in the tank for that mile long uphill climb.

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There were three of us pacing the 8:00 per mile group, including my son and another guy who I hadn’t met previously.  Right from the start it was painfully clear that our Garmins and the mile markers would make this a difficult race to pace.  Side note: please, mile markers need to be carefully mapped and placed on courses in the correct spots!  We were off by almost a quarter of a mile as we reached Mile 1!  No excuses for that.  It left us wondering, and confused.  We had no choice but to follow our Garmin pace, because after asking several runners during the race, everyone’s timing devices were all over the place.  Needless to say it made for a challenging race.  We made ok time, but often us pacers were not even together, what to rely on?  Course markers?  Garmins?  We did our best.  That dreaded hill at the finish nailed all of our coffins, and each of us were just slightly over 8 minute pace.  It really couldn’t be helped.  Funny, too, that I ran the race 4 minutes or so faster a few years back.

It was still really enjoyable though, and I always love pacing, and the interaction with runners.  We had a good race.  The only other negative I had for the new finish area was that once you  left the finisher chute, there was no access that I saw to additional water.  If I had known that, I would have brought a drop bag with a few bottles of water in it.

According to the website, there were 4,010 finishers in the 10 Miler.  That’s a big race! My finish put me in the top 16%.  Not sure if I could have done better on the day if I hadn’t been pacing because the weather may have impacted my speed.  It was just too warm and sunny.  The Tarheel 10 & 4 Miler is a very successful and huge event in Chapel Hill, and you should try it one day!  UNC is a beautiful campus!  They have pretty nice swag, too for finishing!

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