Marine Corps Half Marathon- Race Recap

This past Saturday, 9/19/15, my oldest son and I ran an amazing race together.  A new Half Marathon to us, but a tried and true tradition for years about a two and a half hour drive from home.  This race has been on my radar for a few years now, but timing and obligations always seemed to get in the way.  Not this year!  Back at the beginning of the Summer my son called me and said “let’s sign up for a race”.  You know me, I love running races with my boys, so I searched and searched to find us a race.  Because I didn’t have a September marathon planned this year, this Half Marathon at Camp LeJeune was the perfect choice.

image

This race would be my sons 5th Half, and my 29th!  The weather the week prior to the race was finally cooling off a bit.  For a few weeks I had been able to get in some training runs in more moderately warm conditions versus down right hot ones.  My son was taking this race very seriously.  He has recently gotten a lot fitter, and had really taken training for this race to a new level for him.  Based on the runs he had in the month leading up to the race, I knew if he had a good day that he would leave Dad in the dust right at the start.  Time would tell.

This race location is an interesting one for us.  Being about 150 miles away from home, it seemed too close to commit to an overnight in a hotel, but meant getting up mega early on race morning to drive there.  I chose to drive on race morning since they offered race day packet pick up.  It was way more difficult to do this than I had ever imagined.  We had to leave the house by 3am!!  Yes, 3:00am.  Ugh!  It wasn’t a big deal to my son, who threw on some headphones, and curled up in the passenger seat.  To me?  Not fun!  Because of added security measures at Camp LeJeune, they suggested we get there 90 minutes before the race.  We had to submit personal info prior to the race like drivers license info, make and model of the car I would be driving, etc..  Getting there early would mean I would have the needed time to get my parking pass, find parking on base, pick up our packets, and get prepared to race.  It all worked out just fine, it was just a very long morning.

Our race preparations went as planned.  I was a bit disappointed that the cooler morning temperatures of the prior week had decided to end abruptly that day.  When I had gotten up at 1:30am, the temperature was 70 degrees.  By the time the race started it was 72, and humid.  We hydrated the best we could before the race began, and I hoped for the best.

This race also includes a 5k, and 10k so there were plenty of runners everywhere.  A very nice large holding area/finish area, it never felt too crowded but I knew that based on previous runnings of this event that there was over 1,000 runners there ready to race.  We lined up at 6:45, and promptly at 7am, the race began.  I told my son to race smart, and to hydrate and be sure to take his gels.  Within the first 30 seconds he was well out in front of me.  I hoped he hadn’t gone out too fast, only to lose it on the second half.  United States Marines manned intersections and kept traffic under control.  Since this entire race course was taking place in their home it was only fitting.

The race course was quiet and mostly flat.  I was clocking mile paces in the 7:30 range at the beginning. This would change, and all too soon.  It was incredibly sticky outside, and by mile three began to feel more like I was running through a swamp and not running on the road.  It was tough.  The condition were not ripe for a brilliantly fast race for me, and considering I had run another Half Marathon six days prior, I wasn’t trying to set any records.  I just knew it wouldn’t happen, especially with the heat of the morning.  The race course was beautiful though.  Several signs along the way, families in their driveways cheering us on.  It felt cozy and warm.  The section of the race course along the water was very scenic and tranquil.

My race shirt usually gets soaked with sweat during a race, but this was extreme.  My shirt was soaked by mile five, and my shorts were already getting that way.  I had a guy pass me around mile five that was literally dripping from head to toe.  He was drenched!  I think he was almost leaving wet footprints as he ran by me.  It was humid!  I was enjoying myself though, and found myself hoping that I would never catch another glimpse of my son until the finish line.  I wanted him to have a great race.  He trained hard for it, and I wanted him to succeed.

My race felt dauntingly slow.  As my pace crept upward I made a goal to come in faster than 1:49:00, a mark I was using to pace myself the prior week at the Carowinds Half.  I felt this goal was achievable, even in the heat.  Beyond the midway point in the race the pack was very thin.  I raced in and around the same group of guys for quite some time.  We traded positions at every aid station.  Water was every two miles on the course up to mile 8, and then every mile until the finish.  I knew based on how much I was sweating that I had better take advantage of each one until the end.  I would skip the last one.

The later miles were tough.  I just wanted to finish.  The effort I expended during this race was far more than my previous race, and it was all because of the heat and humidity.  It really zonked my energy.  Nearing the end, I couldn’t wait to see my son.  I wanted to know how he did.  I never caught up to him, but found myself doing a double take at mile 13 when I ran up next to an ambulance and medics loading a runner onto a stretcher.  Luckily it wasn’t him, but felt badly for that guy.  Been there, done that.  Not fun.  Racing in these conditions can land you in the hospital if not properly prepared.

image

The finish line finally in view, I managed to hold my pace under my goal.  I crossed the line in 1:48:08.  Receiving my medal from a U.S. marine in uniform was very nice!  My son was there to congratulate me and tell me all about his run.  We swapped war stories of the heat and how we managed to push through to the finish.  He beat me by about four minutes.  He did start out too fast, and really slowed down the last few miles.  He was pleased though with his race.

image image image

We gathered some water and Gatorade, and tried to cool down.  Once we did, we walked right over to the car to change clothes.  It was nice to be able to do that so easily.  The car was right there!  I guess that was a benefit to getting there early that morning.  We made our way over to the large lawn that was filled with runners, family and friends.  They had quite the spread.  Tons of food, everything from funnel cakes to hotdogs, and everything inbetween.  Fruit, sweets, beer, the list goes on and on.  It was very nice.  My calves started cramping up the minute I sat down.  Even though I tried my best to stay hydrated, the heat, sun and humidity of the morning left me a bit dehydrated.

image

We hung around for the award ceremony, you know, just in case one of us won something.  Plus it was just a really nice atmosphere, and much needed recuperation time before driving back home.  I’m glad we stuck around!  As they began announcing the Half Marathon awards they started with teams, then masters, then age groups.  Low and behold, my name was announced!  Second place!  Then, as they progressed to the younger age groups, my sons name was announced, too.  He had won second place in his age group!

image

We were both thrilled!  The medals are beautiful, too!  We couldn’t have asked for a better way to cap off this event than with an extra medal each!  Father and son had succeeded the best we could that day given the conditions.  I’m so glad we finally ran this race, and I have to say, may become a tradition for us.  A cooler day would have been more optimal, but we had a great time together.

image image image

My son finished in 65th place out of 975 runners!  Just amazing!  His time was 1:44:39

I finished 94th with a 1:48:08.

How I ran to Marathon #20

I got a very peaceful nine hours of sleep last night.  A much needed rest from the total chaos of work lately.  Today, I’m off.  So, besides just relaxing and trying to catch up with myself, and blog reading and writing, I will try to get out for a run today.  After all, I can’t forget that I have a pretty monumental marathon coming up in the not so distant future.

My last marathon, the New River Marathon, was over six weeks ago now.  Plenty of down time, plenty of recovery.  Time now to really get serious and focus on the next challenge.  Yep, marathon # 20 is just 32 days away!  Just typing that is just unbelievable to me.  Twenty marathons!  Back in 2010 when I first started cranking out two and three mile runs I never would have guessed that this day would arrive.  It’s a pretty amazing achievement.

I think that because this running adventure I’ve been on is about to hit another big milestone, I have really started lately reflecting back on marathons I’ve run up until now.  Each one has a story, and each one a medal of achievement.  A momento of accomplishment.  My race medals are loosely displayed on a book shelf in my bedroom.  Hung over books.  Dangling from shelves.  Wrapped around nic knacks.  Some days I don’t pay them much mind, but lately I have been looking at them more.  They tell quite a story of my journey.

I trained, I trained hard!  I hit the starting line in Myrtle Beach in February of 2012 with zeal!  Unknowing of where my running journey would take me.  I ran my heart out, completely unaware of what lie ahead.  It hurt, and I could barely walk back to the car, but with a 3:33:24 finish, I knew it wouldn’t be my last marathon.  What a sense of accomplishment.  I felt like I had achieved something very special.  Running that marathon changed me.  I felt like a Super Hero.  I knew about an hour later that Myrtle Beach would not be a one and done marathon for me.

image

My inexperience and lack of respect for the distance immediately took over.  A few days later I signed up for another marathon the following month,  I needed that high again.  Marathon #2 at Tobacco Road proved a big bust.  Thinking I was Ironman, I went out with the 3:30:00 pace group, and clipped away great with the pack until about mile 7.  Miles 8-26.2 I quickly learned to respect the marathon distance, as I cramped, and limped, and struggled to a 4:11:27 finish.  I learned a lot that day.  The most important thing I learned was that this journey for me was not going to be all about speed.  I needed more than that.  I needed to learn lessons.

image

Each marathon that has come and gone since then has been a learning experience.  Gaining knowledge about myself, and this sport I love.  I continue to love the marathon.  Each one is unique.  One of the things about running that has really come front and center during my journey is that I not only run with my feet, but with my eyes.  I need scenery.  Views.  I haven’t run Tobacco Road again because the course is monotonous and boring.  It’s a shame too, because it is a local race for me.

Once I figured out that speed wasn’t everything I still struggled over the next few races I ran.  Why?  Lack of experience.  Lack of knowledge on how my body responds to and the correct training I need.  It’s all a learning experience that just takes time.  My next marathon, the Outer Bank Marathon several months later was run with Plantar Fasciitis.  An epic fail.  A race I should not have even run.  That 4:13:58 finish still holds the record for my worst finish.  I learned lessons in the OBX though that I still hold on to today.  I listen to my body more now, I train smarter, I eat better, and proper hydration will make or break a race no matter how fast you run.

Marathons #4 and #5 were both finishes over 4 hours.  Asheville was all about the weather (8 degrees with windchill at the start) and Blue Ridge is considered the toughest road marathon in the United States.  Of my four hour plus marathon finishes the Blue Ridge Marathon was my biggest success.  A monumentally difficult course, I almost broke four hours, and ran a great, and smart race.  That 4:04:59 finish I consider one of my proudest accomplishments.

image

By this point, my marathon journey was a year and a half in the making, and that 4:04 in Virginia back in 2013 was my last 4 hour plus marathon.  Lessons learned, new skills and techniques put to use.  Live, run, and learn.  I ran my marathon PR later that year at the City of Oaks in 3:32:24, and followed that up with a 3:41:41 in Las Vegas two weeks later.  By the end of 2013 is when I truly felt like I had learned enough lessons to really consider myself a seasoned marathoner.

image image

So many more races have come and gone since, and I still am enjoying every moment.  As I count down the days to my 20th marathon, I say thanks for my health.  I revel in the journey, as every mile has brought me to where I am today.  Marathon #20 will be run in Colorado on July 19th.  The Rockies Marathon will be a stepping stone for me.  It may get me to Boston.  It may not.  It will be a new adventure, and the perfect way to celebrate my journey.  A journey that will continue for another 20 marathons after that one, if I’m lucky.  With the Chicago and New York Marathons later this year, all I can say is that I am so lucky and proud to call myself a marathoner.

OBX Racing Challenge- What is that?

After my last post about running challenge events, I started to think.  The 10k, 5k back to back I raced last June was not the only time I’ve taken on a challenge.  I had an eppiphany!  Ok, spell check didn’t highlight that word I’ve probably never written, so maybe I spelled eppiphany correctly?  Anyway, here’s another challenge story leading up to my biggest challenge this Summer when I run a Half Marathon on Saturday, followed by a Full the next day.

What is OBX, you ask?  Maybe you’ve seen the oval stickers on the bumpers of numerous vehicles for years and always wondered what it meant.  Well, it refers to one of the most beautiful places here in my home state of North Carolina.  The Outer Banks!

image

About a four hour drive from home, the Outer Banks of NC, are incredibly beautiful.  A vacation spot for thousands and thousands of people from all over the States and abroad.  It’s a place to slow down, enjoy the views, play in the sand and enjoy the ocean, sunrises and sunsets.  You only need to speed up in the OBX if you happen to be there to run one of the several awesome races they host over the course of each year.

image

A few years ago I had the opportunity to run a race there!  The Outer Banks Marathon is a weekend full of events and takes place each year in November,  The weekend includes fun runs for both kids, and adults, the Buccaneer 5k, the Outer Banks 8k, a 5k and Half Marathon Challenge, the 8k and Half Challenge, the 8k and Full Marathon Challenge, Southern 6, the TowneBank Outer Banks Half Marathon, and the TowneBank Outer Banks Marathon.  Wow!  Tons of events, and a bunch of challenges to choose from.  Back when I ran these races the title sponsor was Gateway Bank.

In 2012, I chose to run the Blackbeard Challenge!  It entailed the 8k on Saturday morning, followed by the Full Marathon on Sunday morning. See?  How did I forget about this challenge when I wrote my last post?  At the time, I had never tried anything even close to this kind of challenge.  In fact, this Marathon was only the third marathon I had ever run.

Outer Banks Sporting Events has several great races throughout the year.  The Flying Pirate Half Marathon in April each year, Storm the Beach, and Saga Outerbanks Triathlon are other events they host.  This race company is known for great swag, medals and overall fun experiences.  The year that I ran this challenge, they even offered custom race shirts, and of course I had to get one since this was a big challenge to me, and I wanted to commemorate it with more than just “the race shirt”.  It’s from a company called WearYourNumber.com. Check it out!

image

Isn’t it cool?  I got to customize it with my own photo (a beach photo because of where the race was located) and with verbiage/script of my choice.  It looks like a bib, but it’s actually printed on the shirt!  It was my actual race number, too!

We had the best weekend in the Outer Banks!  Family, food, fun and racing.  At the time I was suffering (and had been for months) with Plantar Fascitis.  It was excruciating, and added an extra challenge for me that weekend.  Looking back on it, I was pretty miserable for both races, and didn’t have great races at all.  But, I did it!  I ran and conquered both.

8k medal.  Completed in 38:21. 37th place overall!

8k medal. Completed in 38:21. 37th place overall!

There was a race shirt and medal for both races I ran, and an additional medal for completing the challenge.

Race shirt.  I absolutely love the logo!

Race shirt. I absolutely love the logo!

Next up, after much unsuccessful foam rolling was the marathon.  I started well, enjoying views from Kitty Hawk to Manteo, but failed miserably with cramping and of course my PF was killing me.  My worst marathon finish to date at a pace of 9:41 for an overall finish time of 4:13:58.  Yeah, I was happy to finish, but felt a bit deflated with my time.  I guess considering my physical struggles, finishing was probably all I should have hoped for.  Here is a look at the medal.

A beautiful medal, even if it is a little small compared to most races I've run.  Still love it!

A beautiful medal, even if it is a little small compared to most races I’ve run. Still love it!

To top off the weekend, I received this medal for completing the challenge.

image

So there you have it.  I didn’t start blogging until six months after this race, so a recap full of detailed memories from my races isn’t included.  I really can’t go back in my mind and try to review it.  I do know though, that if you are looking for a great weekend at the beach in November, this is a great option.

On to the next challenge.  Back to back Half and Full.  This July!  Aspen Valley Half and Rockies Marathon.

Double Agent reporting for duty!

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

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

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

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

image

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

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

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

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

image

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

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

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

Merriam-Webster-

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

I am kinda mad about running!

Heading to Asheville

Now that my seven day stretch at work is finally over, I can focus on the weekend!

First off?  Relaxation and packing tonight.  It’s cloudy and dreary, so I am not running a final shake out run today.  Maybe tomorrow at some point, but not this evening.  I am going to put my feet up, and chill for the night.

Second thing, upon a fairly early wake up call, I will be hopping into the car for a four hour drive to the laid back, picturesque city known as Asheville.  I have an Expo table to work tomorrow afternoon, and a big 13.1 on Sunday to run.

image

The weather is looking good, the forecast for no rain and high of about 62 is holding strong.  Should be an absolutely lovely weekend in the mountain town, and a run by the Downton Abbyesque Biltmore Estate.

image

Pacing and racing update to follow this great weekend.  Hope you all enjoy!

I’m a Cartoon Character!

Good morning readers!

A quick post this morning to share with you a new mini version of myself (which I’m sure you will see more of) created by the folks at http://www.ilovetorun.org.

I actually took part in a blog contest a few weeks back at http://www.trippingthekenyans.com. I had to create an eBib, running related, of course.  One of my creations was chosen as the winner, and as reward, they caricaturized me!

Look!  How cute is my mini me?

image

Check out Scott’s blog, he is runner supreme, and funny!  Tripping the Kenyans has great content.

If you check out the eBib website, you can create custom Bibs to display on many different platforms.  Here is an example…..

image

It’s simple, and easy.

Quarter Century Club for Half Marathons

Five years ago, back before I had ever run a Half Marathon, I never imagined that I would be staring Half number 25 in the face.  It was a goal, for sure, to run one Half Marathon!

I quickly caught the Half Marathon bug after my first race in Jersey City, New Jersey.  I ran that race with my brother and my best friend.  It was September 25th, 2011.  It was a hot day for a race.  70 degrees plus, with a field of over 2,200 runners.  Views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and barely escaping a train crossing over the race route were all highlights.  I finished in 1:41:38.  7:45 pace.  That one race was all it took, I was hooked!

I did become a fanatic for the distance.  Since that first race, I’ve run Halves in NC, NY, NV and TN.  I’ve run small races with under 200 finishers, and I’ve run huge races with over 33,000 finishers.  There is a story behind each one.  A great story.  13.1 really is the perfect distance!

In less than two weeks, I will be running my 25th Half Marathon in less than a four year time frame.  This one is a big deal!  I will be running the Asheville Half Marathon at Biltmore Estate in western North Carolina.

image

What’s even more fun about it is that I will be pacing at this event.  I have the 1:45:00 pace group, so I will get to celebrate my own achievement along with a group of runners.  Those runners may be attempting a Half Marathon for the first time, or shooting for a PR.  Regardless of the reasons, it will be an epic race in Asheville on March 15th.

image

Here’s to celebrating a quarter of the way to 100!

Marathon #17

Keep calm, they say.

image

With less than two weeks to go, I think I am everything but calm.  You would think that I have this whole marathon gig down pat.  I mean, having run eight marathons last year, I should be raring to go.  In fact, I do have race withdrawal.  An affliction I’ve endured for the last two months or so.  I haven’t raced since November 2nd.  This may, in fact, be the longest break between races I have ever endured.  Normally I start have race withdrawal about two weeks after a race.  This stretch by race day, will be over three months.  No wonder I am anything but calm.

I really did need the break, however.  My body was just tired after a full racing season in 2014.  I had some great races, and some not so great.  I needed the time off.  I needed to recover, and get that desire back.  It really took longer than I thought it would.  Even my long training runs haven’t been that fun leading up to marathon 17.  I really haven’t enjoyed many runs at all.  I think the combination of tired legs, lackluster cold weather running and the general malaise that this time of year brings me have left me feeling quite unprepared for this marathon.  Race day has really snuck up on me.  I mean, it really, really has.  I know my mind knows how to conquer the 26.2 miles that await me on February 7th, I just don’t know at this point how my legs will react on race day.

image

No, this twelve day stretch doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas, Paul.  These twelve days have everything to do with a marathon.  The only present involved will be a medal at the finish line.  If I make it to the finish.  Can you believe that I am even afraid of not finishing?  I guess the nerves are starting to kick in.  Stay calm!  I can do this!  I have to keep reminding myself.

My goals for this race are just to finish, and try to let my body relax through the process and take it all in. Of course, no two marathons are quite the same.  I’m not talking about the course either.  Marathon race day can being all sorts of different results, even for elite athletes.  One never knows how the body will react on race day.  To have the most consistent results, one needs proper training.  This training cycle has been anything but consistent for me, so I need to rely more this time on tenure.  I’ve done this sixteen times in the past, so I have to rely on knowledge I’ve gained along the way.

Hopefully this knowledge will get me to the finish!

No matter how many races you’ve done, have you ever felt underprepared come race day?  How have you overcome?

Don’t call me a fucking jogger!

When did you become a runner?  That is a question that most people answer in different ways.  How does one define a runner?  I guess we must define a runner before we can answer the question of when we became one.

Just for fun I took a look at true definitions of the term “runner”, and the most amusing one, and perhaps most fitting was this….

Runner – Someone who runs at a decent pace, on all terrain, in all weather because they want to.

That was followed up by this…. “Not a fucking jogger, ok?”

As runners, we hate the word jogger.  Jogger implies slow, I guess.  Well, to me, it really doesn’t matter at what pace you run, but to be a runner we must actually be moving faster than a walk.  I think the term “jogger” implies a casual mover, one who doesn’t care about pace, and is just out there for exercise.

Let’s now define “Jogger”.  A jogger is someone who trots or runs at a slow or leisurely pace.  The main intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running.

Here is a jogger.  Casual, wearing a sweatband, and even sandals.

Here is a jogger. Casual, wearing a sweatband, and even sandals.

I do not trot.  Let’s get this straight.

I was a true runner a few times much earlier in my life, and actually ran a few races back in the 90’s and early 00’s.  I truly didn’t catch the running bug though until 2010.  In 2010, the month was August when I laced up and hit the road in hopes of starting a new revolution in my life.  I ran short distances, anything from a mile to two miles, probably four times a week.  While slowly developing some cardio vascular health, I found it got easier each time I ran.  So what did I do?  I ran more.  I gradually added distance, sometimes up to three miles, sometimes five to six times a week.  I didn’t even start tracking my runs until October 15th, 2010.

A funny thing started happening over the course of those first few months.  Competitiveness started kicking in.  I was getting good at this thing called running.  Nope, don’t call me a jogger, I am a runner!  Each time I would lace up, I started timing myself.  My goals started to change.  I wanted to get faster, and to get faster I needed to know how fast or slow I was running.  I picked a 5k loop in my neighborhood and ran it incessantly.  I recorded my times on paper for every single run.  I got faster.  I got fitter, and I got more competitive.  A jogger doesn’t care about pace, right?

Then I started to get bored with the same old route, the same distance, the same surroundings.  I decided to step it up.  To run further and faster.  I gradually added more miles, different routes and kept the same routines.  Running was my exercise, my joy.  This didn’t fade, and still hasn’t up to today.  It was early in 2011 that I decided I wanted to take on a real race.  A 5k is where I would test out my new found love of running.  That April I ran a 22:03 5k, won my age group and was like 11th overall.  Success!  It was not called a jogging race, it was a running race.  I was a runner!  What I was doing was working.  That race lit my competitive fire, and looking back at my training log, I started running longer distances on my next training run.  Two days after that 5k I ran 5 miles.  That 5 turned into 10k, and then even longer.

image

My goals changed, and broadened.  I wanted to get faster, but I also wanted to run longer.  I started obsessing over races.  I wanted to prove myself a runner.  Racing was fun.  I ran several more 5k’s within weeks of that first one, and with my increased miles in training, my first 10k road race was in July.  It was at that race that I started dreaming of one day calling myself a half marathoner.  That goal would put me on the road more often, and for longer durations.

image

I was loving it!  It didn’t let up.  Increasing my mileage was leading to better fitness, and by August I really was in great shape.  I signed up for a Half.  That September, I ran my first Half.  The Newport Liberty Half Marathon, in Jersey City, NJ.  It was amazing!  It was a big race, and I finished in 1:41:38.  I was truly hooked.  About a month later I really started contemplating running (not jogging) a marathon.  It was a daunting thought, but it was possible, right?  I had to really convince myself that I could do it.  After running that Half though, I knew down deep inside that I could run a Full marathon.

image

I looked at training plans, I looked at races.  By December of that year I had run two more Halves, and was well on my way to running 26.2 for the first time.  Myrtle Beach would become my first marathon in 2012.  I smoked that course, too.  A finish of 3:33:24 was leaps and bounds above my expectations.  No, I am not the fastest runner out there, but this was a huge success for me.  After completing that marathon I truly considered myself a runner.  A real runner.  A marathoner!

image

You see, to me, being a marathoner is a world away from the term jogger.  I do not casually run or trot twenty six point two miles.  I suppose I could, but I don’t.  I don’t judge those that do walk or jog a race, even distances up to a marathon, just don’t call me a jogger.

How do you feel about labels?  If you were referred to as a jogger would it bother you?  How would you define a “runner”. A “jogger”?

Revel Rockies Marathon & Half

Revel Race series is currently a group of three incredibly beautiful, downhill races in western U.S..  Big Cottonwood, in Utah (which I ran this year), Revel Rockies in Colorado, and Canyon City just outside of Los Angeles, California.  The inaugural event at Canyon City is this weekend, so good luck to those of you lucky enough to be running there!

A huge fan of this race series, I have to check them off my race to-do list.  Why?  I can think of many reasons.  Traveling to race?  Yes!  Up until my race in Utah in September, I hadn’t been to any of the three locations they offer races.  A great reason to run.  Visiting Salt Lake City was a load of fun.  Getting to see a beautiful area on foot while running a marathon was just amazing!  Downhill races equal faster races.  Better chance for a PR or BQ, or both?  Another huge factor for wanting to run these races.  They have a naturally higher percentage of Boston Qualifiers than most races in the States.  Beautiful vistas, mountains, canyons, nature.  Courses designed for beauty and speed, amazing!  They also have great bling, swag and offer a very generous cancellation policy.  You don’t see that in many races at all.  So many reasons to run a Revel event.

image

I have decided to run the Rockies event in 2015.  Race day is July 19th.  I haven’t booked any travel yet, as one of my favorite airlines, Southwest, hasn’t opened up their flight schedule that far out yet.  Travel details will work themselves out in the months to come.  For now though, I have created a team, and would welcome anyone who wants to join in.  You only run together if you want to, but joining a team allows you to get a discount on registration in addition to liking them on Facebook (which gets you another $5 off).  My team name is “Running Down A Dream”.  You can click on the following link and be taken to the registration page.  https://www.brooksee.com/rdv/register?team=146952.   Let’s Revel Rockies.

Take a look at the great finisher medal from the inaugural event this year.  It’s huge!

image

The Rockies event promises a beautiful downhill course.  Just look at the elevation chart.  I can tell you from experience, you must train differently for a downhill race.  Do some research, and find yourself a good training plan so that your legs aren’t wrecked post race.

image

If you are anything like me, you base many decisions on what events you sign up for on the overall runner experience. You look at race recaps, online forums, and race websites.  Based on my experience at Big Cottonwood this year, I know the folks at Revel Races do races right.

Check out this great race series online.  You can read all about their mission, read runner reviews, check out the race course maps, and much more.  www.runrevel.com.