Marathon 25 – 5 days away!

When I sit back and think about it, I am truly astonished!

The Quarter Century mark!  I know there are people out there who have run hundreds of marathons.  You know, those 100 marathon clubs, and such.  Well, with my marathon this weekend, I feel like I am really hitting a pretty significant milestone.

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The All American Marathon this Sunday will be my 25th marathon.  What began as a simple quest, pushing myself further than I ever thought possible, has turned into quite the passion.  It all began in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2012.  My first marathon.  Races, places, I’ve been a few places since that first one.  My journey has taken me to 8 different states.  Of course I’ve run the majority of my marathons in my home state of North Carolina, but I’ve ventured out a few times.  ;). Tackling America’s Toughest Road Marathon in Virginia, enjoying plentiful neon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon in Nevada, running past Moose at Big Cottonwood in Utah, being cheered on twice by millions of spectators in Illinois at the infamous Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running high up in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and most recently taking a running bite out of the Big Apple at the TCS New York City Marathon.  Many, many more inbetween.

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Yes, the journey continues.  Still loving it, still competing, and doing more pacing.  I’m not shooting for the elusive Boston Qualifier this weekend, I am pacing instead.  I will lead the 4:00:00 group to a fun finish for my 25th this Sunday.  I’m getting very excited!  The All American Marathon this Sunday is a milestone to celebrate for me.  It also kicks off a new chapter.  Where will the next 25 take me?  The possibilities are endless!  Cheers!

My Asheville Marathon Results ~ Spoiler Alert

We are not going to talk about my curious absence from blogging this past month.  I just haven’t had enough time on my hands.  There is a ton to recap about each of the individual races I paced last weekend in Asheville, but I just don’t have the time right now to do a recap justice.  I guess we’ll settle for snippets, and results…..

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Btw…I am still trying to gather pictures from the event, which I have to search for and grab/copy before my long recap posts.  But, isn’t this an awesome picture of the Biltmore Estate from a cool spot on the race course?

I had an awesome weekend in Asheville participating in the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge.  What is that, you ask?  Well, this year the race doubled down, and held the events on two consecutive days.  The Half Marathon on Saturday, and the Full Marathon on Sunday.  I ran both!  I paced both!

This weekend was all about having fun, and running my heart out.  Giving back to my fellow runners by pacing them to a specific time goal.  For the Half, I paced the 2:00:00 finish group.  A very popular group, containing all of those runners out there trying to get the sub 2.  The weather was perfect, maybe just a tad on the warm side, but me and my pacing partner Louis brought those runners in at 1:59:23.  Just under the mark!

I then refueled, and spent five hours working an expo table for the marathon the following day.  All the while chatting up marathon runners, taking gulps of Gatorade along the way.  Yes, I had a chair, which I requested!  After having run the Half, and having another 26.2 miles the following day, I needed to be off my feet.

Marathon Sunday came so very quickly.  Back at it, I felt good.  I was pacing the 4:00:00 group for the marathon, and the weather?  Not so good.  It started raining about 20 minutes before the race began, and would rain intermittently for the entire race.  I don’t often run in the rain so it was an interesting twist.  Pace the hills for 26.2 miles, in the rain, and mud.  All after having run a Half the day before.  I felt good though, and knew I could manage it.  About 10 miles into the race, my pacing partner Andrea fell off the pace.  Now alone on dirt and rock trails, I had to dig in.  Climbing, climbing, the often washed over mile 11-12 was grueling.  I maintained pace somehow without a helper, and in the quiet.  Runners around me, but no one with me.  I carried on…..

Mile 12 is when she appeared.  A 23 year old medical student from Iowa.  Payton was her name, and she was my angel.  She sidled up to my left side, and said, “I want to break 4:00:00 today, so I am going to run with you to the end!”  I desparately needed the company, so welcomed her with open arms.  We traversed the difficult trails on the backside of the Biltmore Estate through the vineyards, past historic barns, up and down, through the rain, the mud and muck.  Payton kept me honest.  We both almost fell a few times due to slick muddy spots, but I kept on pace.  On pace!  13, 14, 15, the miles we left behind….

We stayed together up to mile 23 when she began to fade just a bit.  I willed her to keep up, She just couldn’t.  She silently started lagging further and further behind me.  I had to keep going however.  I had a schedule to keep.  I had a date with the finish line and would carry whoever I could to cross with me or in front of me.  The rain ebbed and flowed, but my shoes kept moving forward.  3:59:32 was my magic number on the day.  Made it perfectly to the end, urging runners to beat the clock.  It was a magically wet marathon, one I will remember forever.  I absolutely loved it.  Both days!

39.3 miles, two epic days at the Biltmore.  Two spot on pacing days, to boot.  One day sunny, one day rainy.  Perfect!  More details and pictures to come, including why I love pacing, and more on Payton.  :). Happy running!

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2016 Spring Racing Schedule

With a glimmer of Spring these past few days, all I can say is I am ready!  Today being Leap Day, we have to wait an extra day until Spring this year, but the weather lately has me thinking positively.  I went out on a five plus miler yesterday afternoon on a beautiful 65 degree sunny afternoon.  It was even 60 degrees way up in the northeast.  A good sign that Spring is just around the corner.

Will all of those miles logged over the past few cold, long dreary months pay off?  Wel’ll see.  In general, I’ve felt pretty lazy, as usual for this time of year.  But, I for one, am ready to get off the couch and race!  I have a busy few months ahead, so I am hopeful for some really fun events.

My “Spring racing season” begins in less than two weeks up in the mountains of North Carolina.  I will be heading to Asheville for a few races back to back.  I ran the inaugural Marathon at the Biltmore Estate back in 2013, returned last year to pace the Half Marathon, and this year will be pacing BOTH, on back to back days.

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I am excited to return, and conquer the beastly hills on that lovely estate!  Just thinking about them has me a bit nervous, but my experience should help.  I’ve run them before.  I can, I will, get over those hills again!

After Asheville, I have a few weeks break.  Of course it will be good to take several days off to let my legs and feet recover.  I’ll need it.  With Easter during that time, we should be getting into Spring quite nicely by then.

The first weekend in April I will be pacing another event.  The All American Marathon which is run on a point to point course from Fayetteville to Ft. Bragg, NC, will be my first time running the same marathon three times.  Actually this year is the third anniversary of the event, so I will have run it all three times.  The All American Marathon will be my 25th marathon overall, so it should be full of meaning for me!  I am pacing the 4:00:00 Full, and couldn’t be happier to have reached the “Quarter Century” mark at this event!  I’ve already spoken with the team there to try to get bib #25!

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll Series first came to Raleigh back in 2014.  The first event was on my 44th Birthday.  The folks at RnR helped me celebrate with a 44 on my bib.  Because of the heat and pollen and tough marathon course that year, I decided to run the Half in 2015, only to regret that decision when the made changes to the marathon course a few months prior to the event.  The offered an incredible deal last year at the race expo, to run either race this year for $50.  I signed up for the marathon this year, and I plan to just have fun with this one since it will only be a week after All American.  I also signed up to run the inaugural 5k the day before.  It’s been a few years since I’ve run a 5k, so I figured it would be a good shake out run.

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What an awesome medal!  Rock n Roll originally signed a three year deal with this Raleigh location, with an option to add two more years.  So, depending on numbers, this may very well be the last event here.  Time will tell.

It is surely going to be an exciting Spring for me.  How about you?  What epic races do you have planned for the coming season?  I think that next year I am going to try to break out of my comfort zone, and do a destination marathon for Spring 2017.  The three races I have coming up I have already raced twice each, and will likely choose a change of venue next year.  Any thoughts?  Suggestions?  Where should I race next Spring?

Herald of Victory Marathon

When planning out a racing season I look at many things.  I look at race history, cost, course layout and elevation, swag, ease of logistics, etc..  I pick local races a lot, and why?  Those races are typically, in the end, cheaper all around because they don’t involve travel costs or lodging.  Sometimes though, I just have to look at races that do involve travel because it often times lends to a change in scenery, a new race, a chance at a mini vacation, and so on.

This coming May, I chose a race that involves a very long drive.  Yes, of course I could fly, but that would add more expense.  I originally heard about this race last Fall, and jumped on early pricing.  This race happens to be an inaugural race.  Now, I’m not always keen on brand new races, as most often waiting a year or two for the race to work the kinks out can be a very good idea.  This time around I chose to give it a chance because of the location.  It’s a brand new marathon, where I grew up!  I couldn’t pass up the chance to run a marathon there.

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So, the Herald of Victory Marathon, in Binghamton, NY will essentially close out my long distance events before the Summer.  The course will take me all over the greater Binghamton area, and has a fair share of elevation change, but looking at the course profile, nothing too difficult.  My Father lives in Binghamton still, so it will be a great chance to once again visit, and have him attend one of my races.  A win win!

Not sure originally that I would be able to break away from work on a holiday weekend, I am going to make it happen.  I am full on planning this trip now.  The race is on Sunday before Memorial Day, so I will make the 10 hour drive on Friday before, and either head back home on Memorial Day or the day after.  Accommodations are booked just in case it ends up being more than just me who make the drive up for the weekend.  If it’s just me, I’ll stay with my Dad.

Believe it or not, I have run two races in Binghamton in the past.  Actually it was the same race, run two different years.  It was a 5k, too.  The Kelly LeBare 5k run during the yearly Spiedie Fest in August.  I wasn’t in running shape for either of those races, in fact I really wasn’t a runner at all back then.  I ran those races back in 2003 and 2004, so it’s been well over a decade since I last raced in Binghamton.  Should be a ton of fun!  So, even though this is a brand new event quite a ways away from home, I have plenty of reasons to give it a shot.  Hoping the Herald of Victory will be an amazing race capping off an amazing trip to see my Dad.

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Double Trouble in Asheville

The Backyard to Vineyard Challenge they call it.  An all new event at the Asheville Marathon & Half at Biltmore Estate.  What began as just a marathon in 2013, the folks at IDaph Events have added a Half Marathon in subsequent years, and now have added a double (for double trouble).

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Crazy runners (like me), are gearing up for a beast of a challenge in mid-March.  Now just four short weeks away I will be running/pacing these events in the mountains of North Carolina.  A Half Marathon that celebrates the beauty and history that is The Biltmore Estate, on Saturday March 12th, followed by another pass by the glorious Estate during a 26.2 mile journey through gardens, hills and vineyards the following day.  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, at least 100 runners are up to the challenge and will receive a commemorative award and special finishers jacket reserved for only the most crazy to finish both events.

This will be my second attempt at running a Half and Full on back to back days.  The first time I tried something like this was last July.  It’s a very exciting prospect, but not easy.  For those of you that have completed two Full marathons back to back are just a bit crazier than me.  For now!  I will attempt the Full/Full challenge one day in the near future.

So, how does a runners prepare for a challenge such as Backyard to Vineyard?  I believe a good dose of mental prep is in order, along with the physical.  Being mentally prepared to tackle 39.3 miles over the course of two days will more than likely be easier for me than the physical part.  I’m already in talks with my legs and feet, believe me!  I know I can do it though!  I’ve done it before, and at elevation.  This time it won’t be any easier, in fact the course is tougher by a long shot.  I will be as ready as ever to conquer!

As a runner, what is your proudest accomplishment?  Have you ever tried any crazy challenges that are out there?  I love to hear your stories.

 

Winter Blues

The time has come.  Seems as though it gets earlier and earlier every year.  I have had it with Winter.  Dread it getting here, dread it even more in the midst of it, and eventually fed up completely with the cold and bitterness.  Jesus, and I don’t even live in the north.  My blood has completely thinned out in the years that I have lived in the south.  Winters here have been a walk in the park compared to those when I lived in NY.  That day is here though, I am ready for Spring!

So many of my usual things get hampered by the lack of daylight, the lack of sunshine, the lack of warmth.  My energy levels suck this time of year.  Why do I find this time of year is best spent on the couch or in bed?  The weather just lends to lack of motivation for me.  I have to force myself to bundle up and get outside for a run.  Does this happen to you?

My training miles really suffer at this time of year.  Looking back on my running calendar I realize just how unmotivated I am at this time of year.  60 something miles in January?  How pathetic is that?  What’s even more pathetic is that of those 60 miles, 26.2 of them were during a marathon.  I didn’t even take my running shoes on vacation.  Didn’t run once.

I can only hope Spring gets here soon.  I have a bunch of racing to do in the coming months, and that means training if I want to perform well.  I have Asheville Half and Full in four weeks!  Then All American Full three weeks later.  Then Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Full the week after that.  I need training miles to feel ready.  What do you do to motivate yourself to get those training miles in for the races ahead?  Dreaming of Spring, warmer temps and sunshine doesn’t seem to be cutting it for me these days.  I need something more! Bring on 101 degrees!

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Major Announcement

Since becoming a marathoner almost 4 years ago, I knew I was destined to run this amazing 26.2 mile distance again and again.  All it took was that first race, that first finish line.  I wanted more, in fact I craved it.

Every runner has a path.  My path has been very exciting, all the while learning about myself, my body and how to run injury free.  The path hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve made mistakes along the way.  Who doesn’t?  The main thing to focus on is the process.  How to get yourself to the starting line, and how best to cross the finish line.  To date, I have now crossed the marathon finish line 23 times.  I am full of gratitude just thinking about that number.  Each race offers a unique runner experience, and in fact, over the next few months I will be hopefully adding another 4 marathon finishes to my repertoire.  Asheville, All American, Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, and Herald of Victory all by the end of May.  How lucky am I?

My marathon journey affords me chances to challenge myself beyond my wildest imagination.  It really is no joke to set out on a 26.2 mile run.  For my ability to run, I am so thankful.  My journey also gives me chances to travel to places I may not have  gone otherwise.  For example, I’ve been to Chicago twice now in two years, both times to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  I’ve only been to NYC once now in the past 18 years, and why?  Yep, you guessed it, to run the TCS New York City Marathon.  Marathons get me places, take me places and sometimes even put me in my place.  I’ve been to Colordao once in my life.  Yes, to run a marathon.  I’ve been to Utah once, again, for a 26.2.  Where to next?  I’ve never been to Boston, but I want to go!  (I’m working on it!).

Amazing marathons exist all over the globe, and I hope to have the chance to travel abroad to many great races.  I recently entered the lottery to run the BMW Berlin Marathon this year, but didn’t get in.  I’ll keep trying.  Eventually I would love to run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  As my marathon journeys continue, so will my chances to get into the final four majors that I haven’t been so lucky or fortunate to run yet.  What’s left on the list?  Of course the coveted BAA Boston Marathon, but also the Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon.  This list leads me to my Major Announcement…..  I have been named an Abbott World Marathon Major Ambassador!!!  Yes!  So excited to help spread the word of marathoning and working with this great organization.  I hope you’ll enjoy this journey with me.

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Whirlwind Marathon Trip

The last few days are such a blur.  As I sit here on the couch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I only have a short few hours before heading to work.  Most people I know are on the tail end/final day of an either three day or four day weekend.  Me?  Not so much….

I worked last week on Thursday night, getting home about 10:30pm.  I did have Friday off, so I packed in the morning and did various other chores before hitting the road for a 250 mile drive to Charleston, SC.  I drove south through pounding rain for about four hours before it finally quit and turned partly sunny as I was arriving.  The drive sucked!

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The reason for my trip was to run/pace a marathon the following morning.  So, my first stop was the race expo, which was easy to find and navigate through.  Since I arrived fairly late I couldn’t spend a lot of time there because I still had to find my hotel, grab dinner at a decent hour, and get some relaxation in before an early bedtime.  My stomach felt a little off all day, so I wanted something fairly benign for dinner.  So, after finding my hotel I did a search on my phone for something nearby.  I found a sub shop just two minutes away, and I ordered a plain turkey sub.

Me, in for the night back at the hotel with turkey sub in hand, I relaxed the rest of the evening before a 10pm turn in.  Maybe it was the bed, or the pillows, or the warm room.  Something just wouldn’t allow me to relax and fade away to sleep like usual.  It was a struggle.

I woke up early feeling good though on Saturday morning.  Off to the race site for early meetup with the other pacers.  It was a pleasure meeting everyone.  I felt good, and confident.  A full race recap will follow in the coming days, this is more of a weekend recap, so many of the details are going to wait for that.  As the race began, it was warm, and windy.  All went well for miles and miles.  Right on pace.  As a pace leader you can’t really let on when things start to go wrong.  It happens though.  Luckily I wasn’t alone pacing the 4:00 group.  My pacing partner Eric was awesome!

In a nutshell, the race was good, but I wasn’t, starting about 18 miles in.  I fell off the pace by a few seconds when I started feeling dizzy.  Race day temps were warm, so I took some extra time at an aid station to try to offset what felt like some dehydration issues.  My stomach wasn’t feeling right again.  I did catch up to the group shortly thereafter, but my race was never the same after another mile or two.  My stomach and GI issues continued.  I felt such utter disappointment as my group finally started pulling away from me.  I needed a bathroom, and needed one quickly.  My stomach was my downfall in this race.  I finished off pace, and truly was embarrassed.  I tried to shake it off, as we all know anything can happen on race day.  Truth is, I hadn’t had a finish in a marathon over four hours in almost three years.  I still haven’t gotten over it, but I will.

After the race, I drove the 250 miles home, where my son was waiting for me.  I spent what was left of the evening on the couch resting my aching legs and stomach.  I had to be up early on Sunday to work, and have to work again today.  Yes, talk about a whirlwind four days.  500 miles in the car, 26.2 miles of running, and all the while with stomach issues.  Not sure what went wrong, but my stomach is still not back to normal.  I’ve spent more time in the bathroom the past few days than I have in the past two weeks combined.  It’s really been tough.  But….  This too shall pass.

Onward and upward.  I am blessed that most of my marathons have gone my way.  Most without issue.  When you run as many marathons as I have over the past few years, I guess a bad one is bound to happen every now and then.  I’m just embarrassed that a bad one occurred at a race I was pacing.  I will say, I wasn’t far off my goal pace, even considering my GI issues, but I failed at my pace goal.  I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do, but as with anything else, time will heal my wounds.

Race recap coming soon…..  not all was bad!  I enjoyed most of it, met some great folks, and will return one day to Charleston to do it all over again.  Well, without the stomach issues, I hope!  🙂

Garmin Vivoactive Ready

You might have guessed that on my Christmas list this year, among a few other things, was a new sport watch.  My son actually did some homework on this watch, by Garmin, and asked for one for Christmas.  I got him one!  When it was delivered (about three weeks before Christmas) I got all excited like I had bought it for myself.  After reading up on it, I decided to put it on my list, too.

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Low and behold, Santa left me one under the tree, as well.  So, after much ado, as I have been given the label “TC”, or “Technology Challenged”, I finally have it figured out.  It took some time for me to get it all programmed the way I want it, but I really like it.  A lot!  I haven’t worn a “regular” watch in years, so it has been difficult to get used to, but I am finally adjusted to wearing it all the time.

My old Garmin has been retired.

I have now been running with it on about ten times, and it works like a charm.  It syncs up with an app on my phone, so I can look at maps of where I’ve run, overall pace, elevation changes, best pace, cadence, and the list goes on.  It’s really cool!  I’ve also enjoyed the step counter (I’d been using a different app for that on my phone the past year, but it didn’t track overall mileage from my steps) and the Garmin does, so it’s very nice.  I’ve figured out that an average work day, I cover about 7-9 miles, which is just ridiculous when you think about it.  The sleep feature is the only other feature I’ve tested out so far, and it does a decent job of showing me my sleep patterns.  Bonus!

So, my Vivoactive will be making its debut on the racing scene in two days.  I am heading down to Charleston, South Carolina tomorrow evening for the marathon on Saturday.  It’s going to be an awesome race!  I am pacing the 4:00:00 marathon, so it will be a true test of how well this new device tracks mileage.  Fingers crossed, I will let you know how it goes.

Happy running!

Abbott World Marathon Majors

Slowly but surely….

It may take a while, but with conviction and commitment, I will run each of the worlds major marathons.  What an accomplishment that would be!  To get to do what I love and mix in traveling to places I’ve never been would be a huge treat!

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As it now stands, at the beginning of 2016, I’ve run two of the six.  What started as a six year plan (when I first learned that I had made it into Chicaco in 2014) I thought about trying to run at least one of the six every year for six straight years.  Of course that plan could change at any time depending on when and if I qualify for Boston.  My best being only 7 minutes shy of my qualifying time, I know I can get to Boston!  When and where that lucky qualifying race will be is still in question.

So, in 2014, I made an epic start to the Six, in Chicago.  I followed that up with another run in Chicago in 2015, along with the second of The Six, in New York City.  My plan for 2016 was Berlin, but that fell through with a disappointing email that stated I didn’t get in through the lottery.  So, what to do now?  Is 2016 lost?  I think not!  My focus for the first part of 2016 will be really finding a routine again.  The last two months of every year are really tough on me work-wise. The holidays are just so tough, and busy it leaves me so little time to really run.  I usually just end up using November and December as full on recovery mode from busy racing years.  It typically works well to my advantage, as in years past when my racing commences the following year, I feel fresh and renewed.  My last few weeks of running have felt really good.

My 2016 plan begins with finding rhythm.  I am pacing three marathons and one half marathon over the next few months, and it all begins this weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.  My reasons for pacing are many.  First and foremost, I find pacing super gratifying because I can give back to my fellow runners.  Using the skills that I have learned through running over the past five years, and completing over 30 Halves and 22 Marathons, I feel very comfortable leading a group of runners to a certain finish time.  It’s a social event, too.  As a manager/director in real life, I am used to leading people.  Being the supporter, and helping people reach goals both personally and professionally.  This flows so naturally into my running, so my comfort level while pacing comes through.  Let’s talk, lets uplift and encourage, and get that PR.  Love it.

I will be pacing the Half and Full in Asheville in March, and then again pacing the Full at the All American Marathon at the beginning of April.  From there I have two more marathons planned before the Summer begins.  I plan on working on speed work, doing 800’s, and hill work during the Summer, and really pushing my own envelope when it comes to speed.  I need to if I want to really concentrate on getting a coveted Boston Qualifyer.  That race will be late summer if all things come together.  My tentative plans for Fall were a hopeful trip to Berlin, so I’ll need to focus on a new plan.  It will come with time.  I do know though, that I will keep focused on my plan of completing each of the Big 6.

Wouldnt it be amazing to be able to say one day that you completed all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors?  Boston, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Chicago, New York.  Wow!  That would be something, wouldn’t it?

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Have you completed any of these races?  Would love to hear your stories!