Bull City Half Marathon- Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Running through a Hurricane

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

All American Marathon 2016- Race Recap

4/3-  The All American Marathon was my 25th Full.  I’m going to take a departure from my normal race review due to time restrictions, and the realization that lately I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and focus on a full account.  I haven’t had the desire to blog as much lately, leaving me sort of at odds with how best to review my races, and share information that may be helpful to others in choosing events.  I’ll just let my fingers do the typing and see where it leads……

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I’ve raced the All Amercican Full all three years of its existence.  It’s such a fun and inspirational event, growing in numbers every year.  I’ve had a close affiliation with the race, this year taking the lead in the final month for the pace team.

I worked the pacer table at the expo the day before the race, meeting tons of enthusiastic runners.  It was a chance to meet folks on the pacer team, and talk all things running related including the course, best spectator viewing spots, course elevation, etc…  It was a lot of fun to be involved in this way.

Race morning came, my son and I took off early from the house for the 45 minute drive to Fayetteville.  He was pacing the 2:00 Half, me the 4:00 Full.  The best part about this?  Since we were pacing the same time, we could run side by side for nearly 10 miles until the courses split!  Race day weather would introduce a new challenge for me, and others.  Temperatures were great, but it was very, very windy.  I’ve run in the absolute bitterness of 8 degrees at the Asheville Marathon, near 80 degree temps at Rock n Roll Raleigh, rain in Hilton Head and Asheville Fulls, some wind in Charleston, but this wind was different.  Headwinds of 20mph, mostly sustained, with gusts up to 30 mph.  It wasn’t until we were about 6-7 miles into the race that I really understood how difficult this day would be.

Dylan and I enjoyed our time together, perfectly pacing 10 miles through Fayettevile, onto the All American Freeway and on into Ft. Bragg.  Here are some awesome photos from someone overhead on one of the overpasses.

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We are in green!

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I realized as the courses split, that this day was going to test everything I had.  It would take every ounce of energy I could muster just to cross the finish line.  Turning onto Ft. Bragg, the winds got even worse.  Knowing the course, I was yearning to hit Pope Airfield, where I knew we would turn, and hopefully (finally) get to take advantage of tailwinds.  Just as he turn came, the winds died down, and with it my spirit.  I had never worked this hard to maintain pace.  I knew in my heart without a bit of help in my favor from the wind, the extra effort already expended would kill my race.  So, let’s add mega wind to my list of hates for race day weather.  The wind killed the races of about 300 runners that day in the marathon, as the list of runners that started the race but didn’t finish it, was immense.  More than I had ever seen.

By mile 20 I wanted to walk off the course.  I’ve never done this, but I wanted to.  I had absolutely nothing left in the tank.  All of my energy was drained from fighting the wind, and then it picked back up.  More headwinds….  Really?  Unbelievable.  How can I pace this, when it was really just a death march to the finish?  I was going to finish, but didn’t want to throw any runners off as far as pace, so although disappointed, took off my pacing shirt and ditched my pacing sign.  I was in the race still, but only for me.  Only to finish.

I have never felt so drained in my entire life, but I did eventually finish.  My marathon #25 now barely completed, and now my personal worst marathon finish.  BUT….I finished.  I was embarrassed, and disheartened by my performance.  I could barely stand, and felt like I could pass out of pure exhaustion any moment.  Luckily my son was there to lend assistance if needed.  It took me about 20 minutes to feel recovered enough to take the slow walk to the shuttle, and back to the car.  The weather defeated my pace goal that day, but didn’t defeat my finish.  I finished my quarter century marathon that day in a dismal 4:17:34.  My worst by 4 minutes over the Outer Banks Marathon a few years ago.

Over a week has passed since this event, and my time to reflect has left me with this thought.  I pushed through the conditions, and finished a marathon.  A friggin marathon.  Sometimes I take for granted just how difficult running a marathon is even in perfect conditions.  On that day, the weather was not perfect, my performance was not perfect.  Who cares!  I FINISHED!

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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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!

2016 Charleston Marathon

Less than two weeks to go until we ring in the New Year!  Yes, 2016 is waiting in the wings, and I hope it’s one of the best years yet!  I feel very fortunate to have had such a great year but I am ready to don my party hat and grab my noise maker.  Lets toast to another fun year of running!

Sort of a late entry into the game, I finally have a plan for January.  I am returning to a race I ran in 2014.  The charming city filled with southern hospitality that is Charleston, SC.  After scoring a coveted pacing slot, you’re will find me running the streets of Charleston in just 27 days.  I will be pacing the marathon finish time of 4 hours flat!  Of course, knowing this is a very important goal for so many runners, the main objective will be to cross the line in 3:59:59.  Break that 4 hour mark, right?  Big goal of so many!

So, if you happen to be running this race, stop by and say hello!  This is how I will be starting my 2016 racing season, and I am really looking forward to it.

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2016 Pace Gigs

Looking ahead to my 2016 racing season, so many things are still up in the air.  I usually have a pretty solid plan by now, and am typically already training for my next race.  Why is this not true this year?  I guess there are many reasons.

Ending the year with the one two punch of Chicago and New York, my body has felt a bit depleted.  When you have no energy, and a lack of desire, it leads me to a oh hum attitude when it comes to getting signed right up for my next race.  I just couldn’t find one that worked for my schedule and budget.  Then I got sick, and have still not fully recovered.  Still having problems and not feeling quite right going on three weeks now.  It has led me to quite the laissez faire attitude.  This is not good when it comes to having a rock solid plan for 2016.

I’m going to just roll with the punches.  I do know this however.  After spending the last five years running various races, I’ve learned a thing or two about myself and my running goals.  Sometimes my goal is to run fast, set a PR, or even try for a Boston Qualifier.  Sometimes not.  Sometimes it’s about the experience.  The race itself.  Getting out there, testing myself, enjoying myself on the run.  It’s not always about how fast you can go, or how far.  I’ve learned I like certain races, and others not so much.  I don’t just sign up for a race because I am a glutton.  I’ve learned to be smart about where I spend my racing dollars.

I’ve also learned through the past couple of years that one of my favorite things to do is be a pacer.  If not Boston material, I am certainly still a pretty fast runner.  What most folks would consider fast anyway.  What I do best I think is have a very consistent pace.  Fast or slow, consistency is key when pacing.  I can offer you that!  Helping others reach a goal before my own goals is something I just never saw coming, but has been a welcome addition to my charitable life.  Giving a bit of myself to others on the race course.  I love it!

This leads me to a few races which are set in stone for next year.  A couple of my favorite races, and races I will be pacing in 2016.  Drum roll please……

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In March I will be heading to Asheville, North Carolina to pace two events.  Actually same event, two different races.  The Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate is a full on runners challenge this coming year.  You can run the Half on Saturday, the Full on Sunday, or both!  I am running both, and pacing both!  I will be pacing the 2:00 Half, and 4:00 Full.  How much fun does that sound?  Tons!

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In April, I will be heading back to one of my favorites to pace for the first time.  The All American Marathon has been a trusted, awesome race experience for me the past two years.  I’ve run the Full both years the race has been in existence, so on its third anniversary, I will be pacing the 4:00 Full.  This will be my first marathon three-peat.

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I’m sure I will do some more pacing in 2016, but those gigs are what I have lined up so far.  I’m not sure I will even attempt a BQ this coming year.  Right now just not feeling the need to put that kind of pressure on myself.  2016 is going to be about having fun, running consistent, and getting back to basics.  Finding more joy out there on the road.  Listening to my body, and smiling.  If giving back to others through pacing is what gives me joy, I’m going to do even more of it.

What gives you joy this holiday season?

Bull City Race Fest 2015- Race Recap

The Bull City Race Fest is an amazing event, and was held for the third time in Durham, NC, on October 18, 2015.  The event includes a 1 mile, 5 mile, and signature Half marathon distance race.  It is truly an amazing event, that has gained popularity each year.

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This race has it all!  It is very family friendly, and one that I would recommend to any runner looking for a world class running experience.  Everything from the ease of packet pick up and expo, to the post race food truck rodeo and relaxing finisher village.  The highlight though in my eyes, is the race itself.  The course, with all of its hilly challenges, is both scenic and exciting.

This race was both a recovery run from my Chicago Marathon a week ago, and my final longish training run for the New York City Marathon just 12 days away.  The perfect way to run this race for me was to be a pacer!  The opportunity to pace it didn’t come until just a few days before the race itself.  I quickly jumped on it, and signed up my son to pace, as well.  This would be his first time pacing, and probably around my 10th time pacing a Half.  The best part?  Pacing together as Dad and Son.  In the same pace group, pacing the 8:30 (or finish time of 1:51:25).  Two years ago I paced the 1:45:00 finish group, so I knew the challenge of the course, and knew that we could both easily handle the job.

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Race morning went off without a hitch.  Parking was easy and we made it to the starting line for some pre-race photos with the pace team members at 6:50am.  The race was to begin at 7:30, so we had a chance to stretch and use the bathroom and get lined up with our fellow 8:30 pacers in plenty of time.  A cold front had come through our area overnight, and we had unusually cold temperatures for race morning.  It was like 36 degrees, so we tried to stay warm until the start.  It had been so long since running in temperatures like this it was kind of exciting.  When the sun rose, the sky was cloudless and blue.  It was going to be fun!

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The Half Marathon had over 2,200 people running and it was obvious when we all began lining up.  It was a sea of runners both in front of us and behind us.  I think we had 6 pacers in our group alone.  We talked some strategy on how we would pace the group right up until the gun went off.  With a challenging course like this one with all of its hills, I knew I wanted to be a few seconds ahead of target pace.  The final few hills can be PR killers, so staying one or two second ahead throughout the race would leave us in good standing for the final mile.

The first few miles are crowded, and run through downtown Durham.  You get a taste of the hills right from the start.  We nailed our target pace though right from the start.  We talked a lot with the group, but it was also obvious right from the start that we would be pacing about 40-50 people and we were all spread out.  I think the most exciting thing for me was how into it my son was.  He has a few trepidations about pacing when we first talked about it, but after I convinced him that he had everything it took to be a fantastic pacer, he really warmed up to it.  He was very excited!  I told him to stick as close to me as possible, but the excitement of the race had him out in front of me a ways quite often.

The course continues on trough Trinity Park, and Duke Campus, hills abound.  With every uphill though comes downhills, and it’s a really nicely varying race.  Occasionally there were neat signs along the course, and chalk drawings and encouragements on the road.  Our group waxed and waned, but our pace was right on the mark.  It was such an enjoyable run.  Offering words of encouragement to runners as they passed me, or encouraging every runner up the numerous hills.  The weather was so cooperative that I never felt like I needed to stop for hydration along the course.  I did, however use my GU’s at miles 5 and 10.

As the final mile approached and we were nearing the finish I started turning and running backwards to encourage runners behind me to push hard and pass me.  My son and I met up side by side with about a half mile remaining.  I wanted to be as close to the target of 8:30 as possible without going over so I ran backwards for pretty much the majority of the final tenth of a mile.  I have so much fun getting those racers to the finish!  Pacing is a truly awesome way to pay it forward.

I crossed the finish line in 1:51:14.  Eleven seconds under our pace goal.  Perfect!  My son finished about 45 seconds under the goal, so we were both within a minute under.  After the finish we were stopped numerous times and thanked for our pacing efforts.  I know several runners even had personal bests on that tough course, so it’s super satisfying to me.

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The post race village is amazing, and absolutely packed with runners and families.  Food trucks all over, lots of refreshments and food.  It was the perfect day for relaxing and relishing in a victory of the course.  Durham is such a fun happening city.  Relaxing on the lawn in front of the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) was so much easier after we ran back to the car to change out of wet shirts and grab a jacket.  It was chilly!  Well, it felt down right cold to me.  A few more photos on the lawn to commemorate our accomplishment, and a visit to the Baguettaboutit Food Truck before we called it a day and headed home.  Don’t ask me how, but I knew about ten people racing that day and managed to not bump into any of them after the race.  A bit of a disappointment, but there will be other races to meet up.  I had the best time with my son pacing that day.  I only hope the opportunity comes up again sometime.