Run & Ride Carowinds 2016

Ran there, Rode that!

Another fun year down visiting Carowinds amusement park.  Half Marathon and roller coasters, what could be better than that?

My time goal was hard to achieve because it was like a million degrees on race morning.  Plus two million percent humidity.  Just rough.  Not enough water on the course, and although the course was still not measured correctly, it was better than last years fiasco.

The real kicker this year?  The timing chips were all defective.  For all races.  The 5k, 10k and Half.  They had to rely on runner help for times, and some shotty backup camera.  Hilarious.

My time was 1:53:50, or so they say.  Who knows.  My garmin came in lower, the course was about a quarter of a mile long.  Short?  What ever.  It was fun.  I’m over obsessing about my times most days, so at least it was fun.  And look at the medal!

Charlie Brown riding a roller coaster?  Oh, hell yes!

Advertisements

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!

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

image

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.

26 Glorious 26.2’s

For those of you who have been keeping track (and this probably includes only me), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon on April 10th was my 26th full marathon.  I’ve considered myself a bit OCD when it comes to numbers, so this one was a big deal!  Don’t you have a favorite number?  A lucky number?  Numbers that y don’t care for or feel odd about?  Back several years ago my phone number included my birth date, my age and my sons age.  Of course that only lasted a year or so, but funny stuff with numbers is kinda cool to me.  They call an affection for numbers like this arithmomania.  I definitely have that when it comes to my most recent marathon!

Twenty-six twenty-six point twos.  Yep, most runners will never hit that mark.  I mean, if you consider that less than 1% of the worlds population has ever completed one marathon, what must the percentage be for someone running 26 of them?  A numerologist would have all sorts of fun figuring the statistics on people who run say more than 1, or more than 5.  More than 10, more than 25, or even higher.  It’s a crazy number that I hope will only continue upward for me.  Let’s hope the body continues to hold up!

So yeah, my “double weekend”, including the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k, which was my last blog post almost three weeks ago, was followed up by the marathon the next day.  This was another race that I’m proud to have been running with my son.  He ran the Half, to a blistering new PR, and although the course was extremely difficult, I managed a sub 4 finish.

image

Weather was pure perfection that day.  Unusually cold at the start, followed by tons and tons of sunshine and a gradual warm up.  A course that winds its way all over Raleigh up and down hills past historic cemeteries, buildings and monuments.  Past several colleges, and local landmarks, this race is really a feast for your eyes.  My first half was really good considering the hills.  I went out at a pace just over 8:00 minutes per mile, and maintained a sub 8:35 pace until a tough spot at mile 10.

Considering the fact that I had just run a marathon a week prior, I was feeling pretty good.  As the marathon and half courses split, that section through Meredith College was a big challenge.  Not for the faint of heart.  Or legs for that matter.  It’s a true test, but also rewarded with a downhill as runners head back toward NC State.  Even though my son is a student at State, there were parts of the course on the campus that I had never seen, and it was truly beautiful.  Centennial campus was just a really great part of the course!

image

Now, what follows on Avent Ferry Road was another true test of grit!  I believe for me, this was the beginning of the end for my speed.  I eeked it out, but man was it tough.  I didn’t have a ton of expectations for a finish time that day, I pretty much just wanted to finish in one piece.  My legs were already tired from a disastrous marathon seven days prior at All American.  You remember, my worst marathon finish ever.  I really only wanted to go sub 4 in Raleigh.

My pace and legs were wrecked by the time I hit Lake Johnson in Raleigh, but the views and quiet of running around the lake for the first time gave me some positive enregy for the final six miles of the race.  Just look at this picture I took.  Pure running serenity!

image

Time to head back northwest to the city, the course was pretty unforgiving.  With the exception of mile 22, where I had a burst of energy, and managed an 8:51 pace, each of my last six miles were over 10 minutes per mile.  I was beat!  I was looking forward to seeing my family at the finish.  Once I finally crested the ridiculous Boylan Avenue hill, I turned east and on into the city for the finish.  My younger son was waiting for me about 3/10 of a mile before the finish.  He surprised me, and I asked he join me and run me in to the finish.  He gladly accepted, although he wasn’t dressed for it at all. 🙂

image

Thanks to that final bit of energy he gave me, I gave it all I had and crossed the line in 3:59:05.  Two marathons in seven days, I’ve barely run since.  I was rewarded however with a nice marathon medal, and finish jacket.  I also received the “Remix” medal for completing both races during the weekend of events.  Although this marathon course will never be listed or described as flat, or easy, it’s always a joy to run the streets of Raleigh, my states Capitol.

I finished 30th in my AG, and 246th overall out of nearly a thousand finishers.  Top 25 percent, I’ll take it.  I hope to return to this race next year and give it another go.  I surely recommend it!

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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!  🙂

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!

image

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?

image

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