Hilton Head Island Marathon 2015- Race Recap

An absolute whirlwind the past few days have been.  I am still pretty exhausted, but hope to catch up with myself over the course of today and tomorrow.  With the race being on Saturday, I have now had a bit of time to soak it in, so here goes with the story of marathon #17…….

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We left home on Friday, February 6th just before 1pm.  Heading down to Hilton Head from here takes about five hours.  The weather was a bit chilly, but really nice for a drive.  Sunshine and thankfully traffic on Interstate 95 was not all that bad.  The drive down was uneventful.  My son had his headphones on for most of it, so I got to switch my XM channels back and forth between 70’s and 80’s music and CNN.  It was a very relaxing drive.

We got to Hilton Head right on schedule, and drove straight to packet pick up at the Westin Resort in Port Royal Plantation.  This being the first time I have ever run a marathon a second time, I knew that the packet pick up would only take minutes.  I was right!  No muss no fuss.  Into the line, and had my bib, shirt and various freebies in less than two minutes.  My son Colton, got into his line for the 5K, and had his stuff in moments, as well.  There really isn’t much to see at this expo.  A very few vendors, and the only thing I needed was five packets of GU, so thankfully the Palmetto Running Company could fulfill my one and only purchasing need.  We double checked our bib chips to make sure they worked, and we headed out.  The drive from the Westin to my Mother’s house is less than five minutes, so before we knew it we were pulling into the driveway.

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A nice reunion with Mom was followed by a relaxing evening at the house.  We settled in, and had a few snacks as she prepared a dinner of chicken marinara and pasta.  A great pre-race home cooked meal, complete with a salad and garlic bread.  Perfect!  Race morning would come fairly early, so I wasn’t long for the world that evening.  We mapped out our plan for the morning, and we headed off to bed.

I don’t now about you, but it’s especially sweet to be at a destination race, and be able to stay with family.  This doesn’t happen often, but enjoying the comforts of a home while away at a race is very nice.  Thanks Mom!

My alarm went off at 5am.  I had been fairly nervous leading up to this race being my first race in over three months.  I was actually fairly calm when I woke up after a really good sleep.  I made coffee and sat on the deck while it brewed.  The forecast had been perfect.  It was about 38 degrees when I got up, but it was supposed to warm up to about 40 by 8am when the race was to start.  The eventual high for the day was to be about 63.  No clouds, only sunshine.  Couldn’t ask for better.  As I sat with my coffee I was remembering last year at the race.  My performance had been sort of lackluster.  The weather was lackluster with rain, clouds and wind.  This year would be different I kept telling myself.

Mom lives very close to where the race starts, so we didn’t leave the house until 7:15.  Such a huge bonus, this really makes this race worthwhile for me.  There have been times for other races where I have had to leave the house three hours before the start.  45 minutes for this one.  Unheard of!  Before we knew it we were at Jarvis Creek Park, and getting ready to line up.

We have our jackets to Mom who would be there to watch the finish of Colton’s 5k before they headed back to the house for a while before coming back to watch my finish.  The morning was perfect!  Not a cloud in the sky.

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Such a beautiful setting for a race!

After snapping a few selfies, we spotted this woman wearing a shirt I had not seen before.  Hum…  Interesting choice.  Not sure if her butt ran fast or not.

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Promptly at 8am, the air horn sounded and we were off.  I remembered going out a bit too fast last year, so I didn’t want to make the same mistake this year.  We purposely started back a ways but found it annoying to have to weave around slow pokes that had no business being lined up where they were.  It never fails.  I need to publish a runner courtesy handbook so that everyone that races understands proper etiquette.  I encourage all types of runners to race but please, if you walk, or have a pace of 10, 11, 12 or more minutes per mile, you have no business lining up with a 8 or 9 minutes per mile pacer.  You just don’t.

The 5k, Half and Full courses are identical for the first two miles or so, so I knew I would at least be able to see my son for the first bit of the race.  He was in front of me for about a mile and a half before I caught up to him.  I didn’t feel like I was running too fast, but from behind him, he looked like he was just running too casually.  He looked slow.  When I finally caught him, I urged him to speed up.  He pulled off his headphones and told me that he had turned his ankle on a curb trying to get around someone, and that he was in pain.  Knowing he only had about a mile to go, I told him to just give it his best, and ice it after the finish.  I knew my Mom was at the finish and could tend to him if he needed help, so as confidently as I could I passed him.  We had agreed that he would text me his finish time once they got back to the house.  I had to wait.

The marathon course is mostly flat, but has four passes over a fairly substantial bridge over Broad Creek.  Heading into mile 5 is the first crossing.  I felt good going up and over the bridge the first time.  The course changed a bit this year, and the next two miles seemed a bit different to me.  There was actually one spot where we were on a wooded trail.  They had done a nice job of highlighting tree roots on the path with white spray paint.  Otherwise this could have been a very tricky part of the race with proper footing.

At this point in the race I really felt pretty comfortable.  My breathing was good, I wasn’t cold and I felt like I was maintaining a very consistent pace.  Most of the time when I race I switch my Garmin screen view to “pace view” right after the start.  This time I left my Garmin on “overall time”, or elapsed time the entire race except for once.  I toggled over to see my pace at about mile 7 to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it too early in the race.  I was on track.  Under 8 minutes per mile, I don’t remember exactly, but pace felt comfortable.  With a few turns, we were back on the Cross Island Parkway and about to make a second pass over the bridge.

Another successful pass up and over the bridge between miles seven and eight brought us to the point in the course where turned off the parkway and headed out toward Spanish Wells.  I remembered that last year between miles 9 and 10 that it started raining my mood dropped as well as my pace.  I vowed to myself that this wouldn’t happen again.  I felt strong.  I enjoyed the scenery, the live oak trees, the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  Beautiful, huge homes.  Occasionally island residents would be out in their driveways cheering on runners, but mostly they were still in bed, I think.  It was quiet.  Peaceful.  A beautiful morning for a run, and I was enjoying it.

I passed the first timing mat at mile 11.  Crossing at 1:27:54, for an overall pace of 7:59.  I was right on track.  As nervous as I was heading into this race about not feeling prepared, my body was holding up.  Just a few miles later though I started to feel some pain in the top of my right foot.  A familiar pain.  A few years ago I fractured a metatarsal in a car accident, and the pain was just like it.  Maybe I tied my shoe too tight.  Maybe the tongue of the shoe twisted somehow.  I wasn’t sure, but it was very annoying.  I stopped quickly at a water station to adjust it, but it just didn’t work.  The pain was there, and would stay with me the rest of the race.  I just had to try to forget about it and run through the pain.  I knew it was not something that I would have to quit the race over, but it was concerning.

The half way point came and went.  Aside from my right foot all was going well.  I checked my Garmin at 13.1.  My time was 1:43-ish.  I thought to myself “this is going too well”.  Right on track.  My spirits were still in good shape, and I chatted with almost every runner that I past.  I remember thinking somewhere in here that I was surprised I hadn’t heard from my son yet.  Why hadn’t he texted me yet?  I started thinking things like is he really hurt?  Maybe he is in the medical tent having his ankle wrapped.  I was worrying.  Then a few minutes later a “ding” on my phone.  This is what I saw as I drew my phone up to my eyes.  “2nd place age group”.  Wow!  Now I know why it took so long to hear from him.  He placed in his age group and had to wait around for the medal ceremony.  Worth the wait, I’d say!  I wrote “awesome!”, to which he replied “got a medal”.  Then he wrote that he was about to ice his ankle.  He asked me where I was, to which I responded, “mile 14”.

Knowing that all was good with him, I got back to focusing on my race.  Oh, by the way, for those of you who haven’t tried it, it’s really quite amusing to try to text back and forth while running a marathon.  We had agreed before the race that I would let him know via text when I hit mile 20, so that he and my Mom could head back to the park to watch me finish.  My focus was now on the next five miles.  Another trail-type section came up at mile 15.5 as we made our way through a field in Honey Horn.  Another new part of the course with some uneven footing, you really had to concentrate on foot strikes here.  It was a cool change from last year.

The next few miles put us back on the Cross Island Parkway.  Miles 16-18 were tough for me last year, so I knew I had a battle in front of me.  It is a boring straight section.  No spectators, straight into the sun, knowing the third pass over the bridge was looming in the distance.  I tried very hard to focus, but knew my pace was dropping off some.  I was tired.  I was not hot, but I needed some water and had two miles to go before another water stop.  My attitude could have really sucked here, but I repeated my race mantra in my head, “the heat is on”, and started to think of a friend of mine.  The night before the race I read a post on Facebook from a friend of mine in my childhood.  We haven’t had any contact whatsoever since Junior High School, but became friends on Facebook a few years ago because we are both runners.  He posted on Friday night that he had some terrible injuries to his knee through years of playing soccer, running and competing as a triathlete.  I had known this prior and he had some pretty major surgeries to try to fix his knee so that he could once again do what he loved.  He stated in his post that he would never win a marathon, or triathlon but at least wanted to get back to the sports that made his life complete.  That he endured the harsh surgeries and recovery so that he could once again play soccer with his young son, to run around the yard with his daughter, to race again one day.  He had gotten news from his Doctor and physical therapist that day that he was cleared to start running again.  I could sense his relief and joy in his post.  At this darker moment in the race I began to think of him, and to run, not walk for him.  To use his words as encouragement.  To dedicate these next two tough miles to him and his recovery.  It helped me through.  Tim, those tough miles were for you, my friend!  And thank you for inspiring me!

Before I knew it, I hydrated up, and hit the bridge at mile 19.  Here is the one and only photo I took during the race.

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That was my view from the bridge.

I texted that picture to my son along with the words “I Hate Bridge”.  Makes me laugh to read that now, and it perfectly describes how I felt at the time.  Coming off the bridge, miles 19-22 were and out and back through Point Comfort.  Another beautiful area on the island.  More importantly it meant that my final pass over the bridge at mile 22 was coming up.  I crossed the 20 mile timing mat at 2:47:09, again texting my son so they could head toward the finish.  I knew it would take me about an hour from the twenty mile mat to get to the finish.  My overall pace now was standing at 8:21.  Not bad, I thought.

I had to walk a bit up the bridge that last time at mile 22.  Losing time, of course, but it couldn’t be helped.  I just couldn’t manage to run it faster than I could walk it.  So I chose my spots on the uphill, and speed walked twice for about 20 seconds.  I told myself this was the only break I would allow myself to secure a strong finish.

I hit mile 23, done with that bridge for the final time.  It should be smooth, flat and comfortable until the end.  Then it happened!  Out of nowhere, my right foot big toe locked into the straight position.  It cramped up completely.  I had to stop to stretch it out.  I had to get it bending again so that I could run.  It was amazingly uncomfortable and very disheartening.  I had so few miles left to go and now this.  I was discouraged.  I got it going again, and started running although I was not confident at all that it wouldn’t cramp up again.  About a half mile later it happened again.  I stopped, stretched, and started running again.  What a pain, literally!  Must have been my hydration, no other way to explain it.  I thought I managed well, but I must have been a bit dehydrated.  Damn it!  Well, I got that toe to move one last time and made my way to the finish.  I didn’t have to stop again, and just before the mile 26 mark, we veered off the road onto the path around the pond at the park.  The final quarter mile was quiet, no one in front of me, and no one behind me.  Just a serene view of the water, and the finish line on the opposite side.  I knew my son and mother would be there to greet me.

Making the final approach to the finish, a few cheers here and there sprinkled in I saw them.  There they were, waiting for me!  Crossing the line in 3:46:53.  They both had two cups of water for me, which I downed immediately.  The medal draped around my neck, we walked gingerly away from the finisher chute.  I did it!  The last few miles weren’t altogether pretty, but I managed yet another marathon finish.

I really was happy with how I did overall.  We all talked, and caught up.  We walked over to the timing tent to enter my bib number, and this totally shocked me!

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What?  I placed second in my age group?  At a marathon?  OMG!!!  I finished 38th overall, too!  Wow!  I was shocked!

Instead of just grabbing a slice of pizza and heading to the car, winning an additional award meant we had to stay awhile for the ceremony.  So, we walked back to the car to change clothes before heading back to the park.  We found a nice sunny spot and relaxed.  We listened to some music, ate some food and just soaked in the experience.  What a great day!  My son and I both own age group medals, so we couldn’t have asked for a much better day.

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Hilton Head is not only the first marathon I have now run twice, but I may now have to go back for a threepeat.

An interesting factoid about this race….  Hilton Head is a vacation destination mainly, even though my mom lives there.  People vacation there to enjoy the beaches, the golf, the tennis.  The weather!  A lot of residents do participate in races there, but looking at the finisher list in the marathon, one thing is quite clear.  The Hilton Head Marathon is truly a destination race.  The top 10 finishers in the marathon all came from different states.  In order, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Maryland and California.  How cool is that?

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And how cool is it that I walk away from Hilton Head in 2015 with two medals, not just one?

Preview- Hilton Head Marathon

Last year a this time I was preparing for a year full of marathons.  Eight, to be exact.  I had just run a final training run on 1/1/14 of 10 miles, and was preparing the downward turn in training, aka the taper, for my first of the year in Charleston.  This year is different for many reasons.

For those of you that frequent my blog, you know I like to run new races.  So focused on trying to get into Boston, I picked a few flat marathons last year, and really didn’t have any success taking advantage of those courses.  As I evaluated my year, I realized that although I really enjoyed the multiple marathons I ran last year, that it’s more about quality over quantity.  Even though races are close by, I will not repeat marathons that I just didn’t enjoy for one reason or another.  Take for instance the Tobacco Road Marathon.  I ran it in 2012, and haven’t been back.  It’s even right here in the area.  A short 25 minute drive from home. Even though Runner’s World magazine touts it as one of the ten best new marathons, I just don’t care for the boring nature of the course.  Just because it’s flat, does not mean it is an awesome race.

So, in understanding myself a bit better this year, and what is important to me when running a race, my goals have changed somewhat.  I will not run a race solely on the basis that it is considered “flat”.  I really could care less.  I enjoy hills, undulation, scenery.  Sure, I want to qualify for Boston eventually, but I will not run flat races solely on the hope of a faster time.  When I lace up to run 26.2 miles, I want to enjoy the course.

With all of that being said, I have carefully planned a few races for this year based on the enjoyment of the overall experience.  The Hilton Head Marathon is my first of the year.  This race, which I thought I would never run again based on my Mother’s potential move and selling her house last year, holds a special place in my heart.  Well, Hilton Head does.  My Mom never sold her house, which is a short 10 minute easy drive to the starting line.  Race day logistics are so easy because of that.  Race day is five weeks from tomorrow!

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Hilton Head is a beautiful place.  Tucked into the southeast corner of South Carolina on the coast, Hilton Head has been a family vacation spot since I was about 12 years old.  It holds many memories.  Playing in the surf there when I was young, working there in 1990 and 1991.  Spending the Millennium New Year’s Eve there at the Hilton Head Yacht Club.  My mother has lived there now for close to 20 years.  I will be driving down there for the weekend of February 6-8.

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The weather at last years race was less than perfect.  It was cold, it rained.  It didn’t perform the greatest at all, with a finish of 3:54:00, but it was challenging, and beautiful and memorable.  All things I look for in a race.  Sure, this course features two difficult over and back sections on a pretty big bridge over the intercostal waterway, but it adds character to the run.  Mentally I will be more prepared for that bridge this year.

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I am running Hilton Head again because of family, history, beauty and memories.  I am not running it in hopes of a Boston qualifying run.  Hilton Head is kicking off my 2015 race year, and I hope it’s even more memorable than last year.

Hilton Head Island Marathon – Race recap

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The inaugural Hilton Head Marathon is going to be a tough one to summarize for many reasons.  There were many, many highs, along with some lows.  I guess that may be true for a lot of races, but I think now that I have had a few days to digest the race this one was so much more in my head and heart, and not necessarily in my feet.  I will try to explain…..

As I began planning out my races for the first half of 2014, I realized that this race would be my 10th marathon.  What an amazing achievement, but also bittersweet.  I would be traveling to this race, to Hilton Head, but it would really be my last visit to my Mother’s house before she puts it on the market to sell.  Yes, bittersweet.  Not sure when I will be back again, probably never again to the house, the mix of emotions and memories really got to me over the long weekend.

We drove down Thursday evening after work.  It’s a five hour drive, and after working eight straight days, I was just exhausted even before we arrived.  Mom, of course, was thrilled to see us.  She had prepared, and was taking hot homemade pizza out of the oven as we pulled up.  We got in about 9:30pm.  A great start to the weekend, we relaxed a bit to wind down from the drive, and hit the hay.

Friday was a day of relaxation for me.  I planned on doing very little except for getting in a quick last minute two mile tune up run.  The kids really wanted to play some golf, so that is exactly what they did.  So while they golfed, I went on a few mile peaceful walk on the beach.  Just what the doctor ordered.  It was a beautiful day.

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My late afternoon run was just a final stretch out for me to prepare for Saturday.  I made my way down golf cart paths around the plantation.  As I crossed a bridge over a pond on the golf course, I watched a huge pelican fly over me.  It was very peaceful, and reflective.  I was alone with my thoughts, and my feet carried me lightly through the live oaks and Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  What a great place to run.

In the early evening we had to make our way to the race Expo.  As luck would have it, we could have walked there.  It was that close to mom’s house. She lives in Port Royal Plantation, on the private side.  The race expo was in Port Royal, too, but on the public side, at the Westin Resort Hotel.  It was a very small expo.  It was a quick in and out really.  Just a shirt and bib pick up, and a few vendors.  They did have a chip check, but that was really it.

So, all in all, I think this was the quickest trip to and back from an expo ever!  We were gone from the house for probably 25 minutes total.  Not too bad.  We had a delicious dinner that night.  Pasta, chicken and salad, all well prepared by my Mom.  Then, we capped off the day by watching the 2014 Olympic opening ceremonies in Sochi.  Overall, a very relaxing day.  Time to get ready for race day, and get some rest.

This race is located only about a ten minute drive from the house, so we were lucky.  That meant a decent nights rest without worry about  a long commute to the race.  The race began at 8am, so we didn’t even leave the house until 7:15.  We all got up, and prepped.  Believe it or not, and I have talked many times previous to this post about the eventuality of a rainy race.  I was ready for it, thanks to a lot of great advice.  When I got up however, it was not raining.  It sprinkled for about 15 seconds, and that was it.  Looking at the local weather though, it looked like it would begin raining now sometime around 8am, just as the race was starting.

Easy parking across the street at a school, and a short walk to Jarvis Creek Park, we were at the start.  Right before the start we snapped a bunch of pictures.  It was about right then, that I realized that I was not alone in this race.  My whole family was running one event or another.  I started thinking more about their race, than mine.  Then things really got real.

The gun went off right at 8am.  I had lined up with my older son, who was running his first Half Marathon.  Further back were Lance, Colton and Tanner, all running the 5k.  We shot out pretty quickly for a mass start for all races.  The course for all three distances covered the first 2 miles together.  Just after about a half mile in, as my older son and I were dodging in and out of the crowd, trying to find room, my younger son shot right past us.  We was moving!  I was thrilled!  There was a turnaround just before the first mile marker.  I saw Colton on the other side as I approached it.  I made the turn, followed by Dylan.  It was then that I was trying to maintain pace, but fighting not going too fast.  When there is a mass start, it’s always more challenging for me not to go out to fast against those running shorter distances.  I found myself wanting to keep Colton in my view.  I knew he was running strong, and found myself wishing I could watch him finish.

The 5k turnaround came about 2.5 miles in.  So, Colton comes back in my direction with a big smile, and much determined look on his face.   I high fived him, and told him to finish strong.  Again, I found myself wishing I could watch him finish.  Alas, I had 24 more miles to go.  Most of this race is flat, but coming up just after the five mile mark was the first crossing over the bridge. Dylan was behind me somewhere, not sure where.  I was strong up the bridge, and glided down the other side. An extremely skinny tall guy, probably late 40’s whizzed past me on downhill.  He was booking.  About a half mile ahead, he was throwing up on the side of the road.  I never saw him again after that.

Wait, isn’t it supposed to be raining?  Oh yeah, it wasn’t.  I had worn a hat, something new to me, and had also left me phone in the car.  I usually run with my phone so that I can text out mile markers every now and then to those waiting at the finish for me.  I couldn’t do this for this race.  I wonder how Dylan is doing.  He has had stomach problems in other various races of shorter distances, I hope he is ok.  I hope he wasn’t back there puking alongside the other guy.  I tried to keep focused.  Focus, focus.  I was thinking more about my family, the rain, than on my race.

Mile 6.5 takes a turn onto a nice bike trail, for a loop down by Palmetto Bay Rd.  The south side of the island.  Promptly, at about mile 7, it started sprinkling.  By mile 8, it was a good light rain.  Ok, gear up, I told myself.  Wow!  In the midst of all of my mind wanderings, I had completely forgotten to take my first GU.  That would explain why my pace was dropping off.  What was once a pace of 7:30 was now at 7:43.  Right after I finished my gel, Dylan appears by my side.  What a relief, I thought.  We exchanged a few words, and he seemed really strong.  His longest training run was ten miles, and that was on a treadmill.  He was doing great!!  I told him to go, go, go.  He pulled away from me right after that.  He looked great.  Mile 9, a turn back toward the bridge for another crossing.  Give me strength.  I pounded up the bridge the best I could.  Dylan was moving further and further ahead.  I wanted to keep him within view for as long as possible.  He slowly faded away as we approached mile 10.  I was so happy for him.  He was matching his longest run ever, and had just 5k to go.  Me, on the other hand, had a long way to go.

At mile 10.5 the half marathoners and full marathoners split.  We turned out toward Spanish Wells Road, and they kept moving on the Cross Island Parkway back to Jarvis Creek Park.  At this point the runners became very sparse.  What a huge difference.  I knew that there were going to be several hundred more in the half marathon, but wow.  I now could only see about three to four runners ahead of me instead of a hundred.  I still felt pretty good, and I was dealing with the rain the best way I could.  I was trying to stay positive about it.  I was trying to stay away from puddles to keep my shoes as dry as possible.  Good thing that it wasn’t a downpour.  It was a light, steady rain.  Nothing too difficult, but I worried for me feet.  I worried about blisters, but other than that I felt good.  My legs were holding up.  The temperature was fine, upper 40’s.  I wasn’t cold.

As I hit mile 11, I felt myself slowing down.  I really felt it.  My 7 something pace was quickly approaching an 8 something pace.  I was disappointed.  As I past mile 12, wow, really slowing down.  I kept thinking about my boys.  How did they finish?  I wanted to know.  If I had my phone, they would have texted me by now.  I didn’t.  Knowing how they finished would have to wait.  I made my way to the timing mat at 13.1, for a 1:46:04.  Pace 8:05.  Mentally, I wasn’t in it like I needed to be.  My thoughts were elsewhere, and not on my race.  I oddly was ok with it.  I wasn’t disappointed in being unfocused until after the race.  This was a momentous day for my sons.  I thought of them instead of myself.

I am not going to lie here, the next several miles were a complete struggle.  We got back onto the Parkway about mile 15.  This section was boring, and rainy, and tiresome.  I wanted to be done.  Plus I knew that as the next few miles ticked by, it meant that I had to traverse the bridge, yet again.  So, at mile 17.5, the bridge comes into view, and my attitude dips.  Just get over it.  Oh, here comes the leader, meaning he is five miles ahead of me.  I was jealous.  I enjoyed the downhill off the bridge.  I tried to glide, and pick up the pace, even for just a moment.  We turned out toward Point Comfort, again on the south end of the island.  Pretty houses, marsh views.  It stopped raining here, too.  Ok, so the bulk of the race was behind me, the rain had stopped.  Let’s finish.  Let’s find that energy to get it done.

Mile 20 turns, and we head back toward the finish.  Back to the bridge.  Omg, not again.  This time the wind had picked up a bit, and I felt extremely cold running over the bridge.  I had to walk a few times, and then just try to meander my way to the end.  My pace was shot at this point, so my main goal became staying strong enough to finish sub 4.   The finish was actually fun, if you can call the last mile of a marathon fun.  My family was waiting at the entrance to Jarvis Park, cheering me on.  As I made the turn, I had about a half mile run around the pond in the park to finish.  I was a quiet, tranquil run around the pond.  I could see the finish, and I was alone.  No one around me.  It was quiet.  The crowd was cheering as I hit the finish line.  Sub 4 accomplished.  Family waiting with stories of their own races.  My body was beat up, my hips and knees.  The underside of my right foot was burning.  I knew this meant a blister had formed in my wet shoe.  I was glad it was over.

My 10th marathon was complete.  I was happy, but happier for my kids, as they told me of their runs.  Wish I could have seen both of them finish.

Here is a look at my medal.

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Stats certainly not what I wanted, but hey, you can’t win them all.

Finished 48th overall, out of 160.

Chip time: 3:54:00

My 5th sub 4 hour marathon in a row, and just about 7 minutes slower than the Charleston Marathon three weeks ago.  I am proud of my 10th, but even more proud of my kids.  Dylan finished his first Half Marathon in 68th place out of 579 runners.  Just amazing.  He won a medal for 2nd place in the 19 and under AG.  His finish time was an amazing 1:43:10.  So incredibly proud of him!  Here he is coming to the finish line.

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Colton had a massive PR in the 5k.  He placed 19th overall, out of exactly 300 runners.  At 15 years old, I am in awe of his accomplishment.  Simply incredible!  He finished in 22:39, and just out of the medals in his AG, in 4th place.

It really was a fantastic weekend.  Lance and Tanner had great races, too, and they didn’t even train.  I love my family!  Time with family is so precious and sometimes limited, that I really will cherish the memories this weekend left me with.  Family is not always with me when I run a race, but I know they have rallied around my crazy addiction to long distance running.  Sometimes they put up with it, other times they participate or spectate.  For all of their support, I thank them.  I would never have been able to get to a tenth marathon without their support.

Marathon #10 – One week to go!

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At this moment, one week from today……

I will be about 16 miles into my 26.2 mile quest at my tenth marathon.  It’s really hard to believe.  My 9th down in Charleston was two weeks ago today, and wow has the last two weeks just flown by.  The moment I finished that race I started thinking about the one coming up in Hilton Head.  I thought, some recovery runs, some short burst running, and pace practice would be all I would do.  Throw in the snow this past week, and the bitter cold temperatures the past two weeks overall, and I just haven’t gotten in the runs I wanted to.

I ended up with about 75 miles total for the month of January.  Not as many as I wanted.  I’m really trying to cut myself some slack, because I really had a longer recovery period from Charleston than I wanted.  That race really tired out my body.  The struggle against the wind at that race really did me in.  It took several more days than normal after a marathon for my body to get back to feeling good.

Last Fall, I ran two marathons in two weeks.  Looking back on that, I felt really good after the first.  I worked hard in that race, conquering the hills of Raleigh, and setting a new marathon PR.  I came off that race with high hopes, and recovered very quickly.  Two weeks later I was running another marathon in Las Vegas.  I wasn’t trying to set any records at that race, but it proved to me that my body could handle two marathons pretty close together.  The difference this time is that my body didn’t feel as good coming off of the a Charleston a Marathon.  Plus the weather has really been a deterrent to my training and recovery.

So, a week from today, my goal in Hilton Head is to not shoot for a BQ, but to work on the mental part of my running.  I want to reach the half way point in that race feeling very positive.  I want to push myself, and maintain a more positive attitude than I had in Charleston.  I am hoping for better weather conditions.  The seven day forecast shows a good chance of rain for race day, which I am not thrilled about at all.  Hopefully as race day nears, this forecast will change.  The low is supposed to be 40, high of 60.  I am ok with this, but no rain, please!!!  Isn’t it amazing how much the weather and conditions on race day can affect your run?

I am excited, and nervous.  This always happens, but I really revel in race week anxiousness.  It just proves to me that I love running, and the excitement of pushing myself in a race.  My only competition is me out there, and I really hope to have a great run next Saturday.  Just one week to go!

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Hilton Head Island Marathon is my 10th, so it will be one for my record book.  I can’t wait!

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Race Medal Sneak Peak

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I am running the Hilton Head Island Marathon in nine days.  As the photo above was posted today on Facebook, it made me wonder.  Do you like to know in advance what a race medal looks like before you actually run the race?  Some people may view it as a great motivator to get to the finish line.  Others may want to be surprised at the finish line.

I have run races knowing and not knowing what the medal looked like.  I can’t decide which I like more.  Seeing this medal today has gotten me more excited, for sure.  I think the medal looks great.  It has multiple colors, and runners.  It shows the bridge, which will play a big role at the event, as marathon runners have to traverse it twice.  The medal also shows the iconic red and white lighthouse located in Harbortown.

At this point I am not sure if this medal will be presented to both the marathon and half marathon participants, or not.  Maybe it will be awarded to those running the 5k, as well.  Time will tell.  Are you a fan of separate medals for different race distances at the same event, or does it not matter to you?  Some races don’t differentiate, and others do.  Some races give different shirts.  I know that 5k participants are getting long sleeve cotton shirts at this race, and the half and full runners will get tech shirts.

So, what do you think?  Should race awards be different in some way based on race distance?  Please share your thoughts.

Charleston Marathon -Race Recap

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As I sit here, and begin typing out this recap, I am trying to find the perfect word to summarize this event.  What comes to mind immediately is (WINDY).  Let’s see if that changes as I begin rehashing the events of this past weekends race from start to finish.

**I am going to try not be overly redundant, as I posted about this race a few times over the past few weeks, leading right up to an extremely brief recap the evening of the race.

First off, I just have to say that Charleston, South Carolina is fantastic!  I’ve only been there a few times in the past, and have never really gotten the chance to explore.  Although I became familiar with Charleston on foot during the race, I cannot wait to go back for a long weekend sometime to really absorb some of Charleston’s history and charm.  My friend Paula and I drove down on Friday.  The trip took us less than four hours.  We drove straight to our hotel, the La Quinta, right across the Ashley River from the peninsula of Charleston.  Our rooms were available for check in when we arrived, so we chilled for about a half hour before heading out to the race expo.

The expo was just a very short drive from our hotel.  Ten minutes, maybe, by car.  Maybe it’s just me, but when you have a race where tons and tons of folks are coming in from out of town, out of state, etc… please have signs posted outside pointing us where to go.  There were absolutely no road signs, and no signs on the building itself, nor inside, pointing runners in the right direction.  Luckily I saw a woman with what looked like a swag bag, walking on the side of the road, and asked her where to go.  She also offered to let us park in her spot as she was leaving.  Parking was not marked either.  Not a great start, but I’m easy, and didn’t let it bother me.

The expo was held in a high school gym, which was way too small for a race this size.  The layout of the expo was also an epic fail.  As this was the fourth installment of this race in Charleston, I was surprised by this.  I hope the race director improves this expo for future runners.  I knew two race directors for other races there, and they felt the same way.  The swag was minimal.  Just a shirt, and a very cheap swag bag to double as a bag check bag.  This was a pretty expensive race, for very little swag.  The shirt featured artwork by a local artist.image

The bib itself needs to be changed, as well.  I’ve read comments on this race from previous years, and it seems like no improvements have been made in this area.  In the photo above, I have the chip portion of the bib tucked under so you can’t see it, but the chip was attached to a tearaway strip on the bottom of the bib.  This was so flimsy, that I thought it would fall off before I even left the expo, and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving it as is, while running 26.2 miles.  I ended up grabbing extra pins, and pinning the chip to the upper bib.  No way I was going to run a marathon, and lose that chip due to flimsy bib design.  Flash forward, I made it over the finish line with my chip.  Others were not so lucky.  Note to future runners… If the bib and chip are flimsy, find a way to make it more sturdy.

Aside from a few other races being at the expo to spread the word about their races, there really wasn’t much else to see.  The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was there, as was Hilton Head Marathon, the Greensboro Marathon and the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate.  The race director for the Asheville race actually opened up 50 more spots for the previously sold out half at the Biltmore, just so that attendees of the Charleston Expo had a chance to sign up.  Very cool.  The Greensboro marathon was offering a $30 discount for a week, to sign up for their Marathon this Fall.  I plan on taking advantage of that, for sure.  *note to self! don’t forget to sign up before this weekend*.

We then took advantage of about an hour of free time before our dinner reservations to drive around Charleston and take a few pictures.  I was floored by the architectural beauty, and really enjoyed our sightseeing adventure. I will return for more details, and would actually like to walk around Charleston quite a bit, and take a food tour, as well.  Here are some photos of the area.

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We then made a quick trip back across the river to an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended.  Al Di La Tratoria was awesome.  We sat in the wine bar (no we didn’t have wine).  We sat down at 6pm, and by 6:30 the place was packed.  No wonder I could only get us a table in the bar area.  We didn’t mind at all, and proceeded to have an amazing meal.  I even capped off my meal with some white chocolate mousse with berries for dessert.  Yum!  Everything was so fresh, and tasted as good as it looked.

Back at the hotel, we were in for the night.  We agreed to meet up in the lobby at 6:30am, to head over to find parking at the starting line.  We thought it may be a bit of a cluster, so we gave ourselves ample time to get there, and be ready.  The rest of Friday evening I just relaxed, and tried to keep me feet up.  I got everything together for race morning, so that I could have a peaceful sleep.  Three alarms set for 4:30am, I actually slept fairly well.

Race day Saturday.  Everything went off without a hitch in the morning.  Oh, the one negative to staying at this hotel was that they offered no late check outs for runners.  Give me a break!  Come on La Quinta, get with the program.  I would love to shower before heading home.  Anyway, that was not going to happen, so I checked out, and met my friend in the lobby.  The quick trip to the race start was actually quicker at 6am, than the day before, and when we arrived, there was plentiful parking.  We had over an hour until the start of the race, so since the weather was cold (38), and the winds were blowing heftily at 20 mph, we sat in the warm truck and relaxed.

Promptly at 7:50am, I exited the truck, and headed over to the starting line.  Just a minutes walk away from where we parked.  Simple.  I didn’t have to shiver long, although I think I was the only person I could see in my immediate surroundings that didn’t have gloves on. The one thing I forgot at home.  Throwaway gloves!  Here is my view of the starting line just moments before the start of the race.

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See all of those hats?  It was cold!  Felt like 26-28 with the windchill.  The conditions would certainly end up wearing me down in the end, but I felt pretty good at the start.

The start near Burke High School would send thousands of half and full marathoners barreling down the first few miles along Fishburne/Lakewood Dr.  The crowd really didn’t start to thin until about a mile in.  There was a lot of foot dodging, and concentrating on not tripping yourself or another runner.  There were random pools of water on the sides of the street due to a quick moving thunderstorm the night before, which added to the madness.  We were moving though, the race had begun.

The fist few miles are mostly run along the water.  Very pretty start to this race.  I really enjoyed the sights, as I got into my rhythm for the run.  Miles 2.5 to 3 were beautiful, enjoying the sunshine on the water and faraway views of the area.  Just after mile three, the course turns left onto King St., the main north/south thoroughfare in Charleston.  This six mile stretch was tough.  Lots of wind, but also lots of crowd support.  All I kept thinking at this point in the race was that the crowd had just gotten up and came out to support us with a cup of coffee.  Many of these folks were still not showered, some out walking dogs, etc..  It was just about that moment that I found myself getting very jealous.  There I was still in the very early stages of a 26.2 mile race, and I began to smell bacon.  A very strong scent of bacon from a restaurant, just beginning a country breakfast feast for visitors and locals.  I became very distracted, and found myself wishing I was sitting down in that restaurant ordering my own big breakfast with a hefty side of bacon. Wow!  Then as soon as the bacon scent disappeared, I passed another restaurant, and more smells of, you guessed it, bacon.  Ok, I had to run faster to get away from those distractions.

Keeping up a decent pace, I was holding on to a 7:30 pace as mile 9 passed.  Just a short ways away, the half and full marathoners split, and the crowd lessened quickly. Circling back and under an overpass, we started heading southeast.  For a few minutes the intense wind wasn’t in our faces.  The wind was just daunting!  It was nice to have a bit of a break from it being right in my face.  This part of the course takes you back down toward the water, and eventually onto a pier for a quick out and back surrounded by the water on either side.  That was cool, but the wind was back, and turning back in a northerly direction to repeat that part of the course back to the race splitting point was where I started to lose some steam.  I remember it well.  I just kept thinking to myself to keep pushing.  My legs weren’t working as well, and I was really fighting the wind.  It was taking a lot out of me, and my pace.

I managed to make it to about the half way point in the race before my Garmin started to tick closer and closer to that magical BQ pace.  I was slowing down.  I couldn’t help it.  That 7:30 pace faded, now 7:40, 7:45, and eventually past 7:49.  I would have to maintain that pace the entire second half of the race if I wanted that BQ, but mentally I gave up right then.  This wasn’t my target race for the BQ, but in my mind I wanted to be able to last longer then just 14 miles sub 7:49 pace.  Today wasn’t the day, it was just too cold, and my body was starting to break down fighting that headwind.

Miles 16 though 24 were not as fun, as the course wasn’t as interesting.  More importantly though, I started feeling my lower body aching.  At first I felt it in my knees.  I have rarely been stricken with IT band issues, but started feeling my right knee aching terribly.  I haven’t had pain like that in a long time.  Then I started feeling pain in the back of both knees.  Then my hips.  I never cramped at all, as I hydrated well, and ate a half banana twice to keep going.  I had the hardest time.  My feet felt fine, which was good news.  My main focus now was to push through this pain, and keep moving forward.

I watched countless runners pass me, as we headed into an area of the course where there are a lot of out and backs, doubling back, seeing a lot of the same runners behind you countless times.  I struggled mentally and physically.  It was really tough pushing through the pain.  I wanted to tote along an IV drip with pain killers.  I was hurting.  With each passing mile, I found myself counting down to the finish.

The last several miles of the race are all run in North Charleston.  The wind was just as intense, but it was a tad warmer.  I knew I could still have a respectable finish if I could just keep moving.  Slowly but surely I was nearing the finish.  Have you ever run a race where you concentrated so much on your Garmin, and the miles just didn’t match with the course mileage signs?  My Garmin matched perfectly for most of the race until the very end.  When it matters most.  All of the sudden the last .2 on a marathon course becomes very important.  When you are ready to finish, and I was ready to be done, believe me, my Garmin said 26, but that sign was not there.  More and more spectators started coming into view, cheering.  Ok, so now here is the 26 mile sign, my Garmin says 26.2.  Wait, this should be the finish line, but it wasn’t.  Man, I was sore, and wanted to cross that line.

Finally the finish line came into view.  Finally!  I had to tell myself to enjoy the finish.  Normally I have a burst of energy at this point.  Sometimes I am able to really kick in one good last fight to the finish.  Not today.  I tried to force a smile, to thank those cheering on the sidelines.  I had a hard time even doing this.  It felt like a slow crawl across the finish.  Of course it wasn’t, but it felt that way.  My hips and knees were killing me.  I was never so happy to finish a race, and to have that medal placed around my neck.

I almost felt like I was in another world.  Not a happy world, but one where I was kind of out of my body, looking at myself.  I had done it, finished my 9th marathon.  A tough day overall.  The wind and cold had beaten me down.  It really sent my body into a tailspin that day.  I made my way through the finishers chute.  I grabbed some water, a flat soda, muffin and moved forward.  The finisher village was huge, and filled with vendors, and food.  I just couldn’t move through and see everything.  I grabbed a bowl of shrimp and grits (a brilliant idea) and made my way to the side of a building.  Wrapped in a Mylar blanket, a sat down in the sun.  It felt so good to sit.  I rested my legs for 15 minutes or so, relaxing.  That shrimp and grits were just what I needed.  That soda tasted so good!

As soon as I felt like I could get up without falling back down, we walked to the truck.  My friend had finished her race, the half, went back to our hotel, showered, checked out, and had returned to the finish line just moments before I crossed the finish.  It was time to head home.  So once at the truck, I quickly changed clothes, and we were on our way.

Results for the race are still currently preliminary, but here is a look at what I know at this point.

Gun Time: 3:48:38

Chip Time: 3:47:58

Overall: 231/1180

Age Group: 33/90

Gender: 182/618

Overall, considering the weather conditions, I am happy with my finish.  I wanted to be faster that day, but it wasn’t meant to be.  How can I not be happy though with finishing another marathon, just nine weeks shy of my last one.  The Charleston Marathon was my first race of 2014, and overall it was such a great race.  Every race is different, some harder than others.  The tough part for me that day was fighting against the wind, which ended up making me fight against a body.  My legs got me to the finish, and for that, I am grateful.

On to marathon #10.  As I recover over the coming days, the pain in my legs will disappear, leaving me with great memories of Charleston.  What a beautiful city, and an amazing marathon.  I certainly recommend it highly.  There are things they can improve upon, and I am confident that as this race grows, they will change those things to make the race even better.

Charleston Marathon Eve

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Tucked away here in a Charleston hotel, I feel good.

Made the 3 hour 45 minute drive down today.  Had great conversation with my friend Paula on the trip down.  The topic?  Running, well 90% running.  We hit the expo this afternoon around 4pm.  Nothing spectacular at all about this expo.  Stopped in however, to say hello and get info from the Greensboro Marathon booth, Hilton Head Island Marathon booth, and to spend a few minutes chatting with my Asheville Marathon buddy Daphne.

We drove around Charleston, which is just gorgeous.  I really need to come back here sometime soon and explore.  What a beautiful city!

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Dinner at 6pm at local favorite Al Di La.  Awesome food, great vibe!  Did I say awesome food?  Yep, it was awesome!

Now back here in the room, logistics planned for tomorrow.  Relaxing and getting sleepy.

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

Race day details and recap coming soon….  I gotta run the race first.

10 days til Marathon #9

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Here we go again.  As temperatures have been in the single digits overnight the past two days, tomorrow, the Charleston Marathon will be just single digits away.  Marathon #9 is 10 days away today.  Normally, I am more prepared, both physically and mentally for a marathon this close.  What has happened this time?  I actually started the pre race nerves this morning.  This race has truly snuck up on me.  I guess the reason for that is that I have not run a race in January before.  Normally I am base building right now.  It is amazing to me how much the holidays and work commitments have distracted me so much from this race.  Now is the time to get my head in the game!

It has been so difficult to get my training miles in.  I have been running, but I feel like it hasn’t been enough.  This is really uncharted territory for me.  The past two years, my first marathon each time has been in March.  This allowed for a slower progression toward my goal.  Due to the overwhelming cold weather recently, I have found it very challenging to just get out there and run.  This is no excuse normally, but temps have just been very extreme.  Today, I have a four miler planned, and I will run it at the height of the day, when the temperature is supposed to hit 42 degrees.

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Reminder!  Just 10 days away…..  Ok, so I need to get myself ready mentally, too.  I woke up this morning, my first day off from work in a week, thinking about the race.  Thinking about the plan.  The logistics.  The four hour ride to Charleston, the hotel, food options.  I have started looking for a restaurant, for my pre race dinner.  I’m thinking Italian.  Pasta, chicken.  My go to foods the night before a race.  Planning out the trip, the details, helps get my head in the game.  It helps to calm my nerves, having a plan in place.  Racing at home is so much easier on the nerves.  When you have to travel, stay in a hotel, and get around a city you are not familiar with it is just more unnerving. Planning these things now, will help me to stay calm.

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This is my first time running in Charleston.  I am so excited to see the city, and just experience the southern charm.  I am looking forward to the hospitality, and hope it abounds in the way of crowd support along the marathon route.  I am always so thankful, and show my appreciation to those cheering on us runners.

This being my ninth marathon, I feel pretty confident about getting through the miles.  My goal though for the first part of 2014, is to make progress toward Boston.  By the time the race comes, it will be almost exactly two months since my last marathon in Las Vegas.  So, even though I have only run one double digit mileage training run (10 miles) since Vegas, I feel like I can rely on my legs and feet to get me there.  Not sure if I’ve done enough to hit my goal of a 3:25:00 finish, however.  My goal is what has me nervous for this marathon.  Maybe those nerves will help me fight harder, run harder.

For today, and for the remaining days leading up to this race, I feel my best plan is to get in several more shorter runs.  Focusing mentally on the race will happen naturally while I run, and during my down time.  I feel like my body will be ready, so the mental game, the goal will be the focus.  Zeroing in on mental calm over the coming days is what is most important now.

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The starting line is 10 days away, but the final focus begins today.

Family & Independence Day Recap

ImageI hope that everyone had a great day of Independence today here in the USA!  America celebrates July 4th in a multitude of ways, with fireworks, with anthems and reenactments, with food, drink and family.  I consider myself very lucky to live and be free here in the United States of America.  Today I celebrated with my family ( at least a small portion of my family).  We live far and wide, and it’s always nice to spend a little time together.

We got up bright and early this morning to run the Hilton Head Firecracker 5000 here in South Carolina where my Mom lives.  This is the first time running this event.  My two sons, as well as my Mother, we joining in on the fun, and racing, too.  This race is in its 28th year!  Because of construction, however, the race was moved this year to Jarvis Creek Park.  This park is literally less than a ten minute drive from my Mom’s house, so getting there was super easy.  Parking across Rt. 278 was plentiful at the Hilton Head school campuses.  The park, and surrounding areas were a perfect setting for a beautiful morning race.

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Picture above is myself, my Mom, and my youngest son.

The race was using strictly gun timing, which I am not a huge fan of, but whatever.  The race started about a minute late, as it took forever for the group of over 1,600 runners to get into position.  No warning, no countdown….  then…..  Firecrackers snapped and popped loudly to start the race.  My older son and I started not far behind the line, and quickly set out on this 82 degree morning.  Sticky, sunny and hot, my least favorite three words on race morning.  It is what it is, and we had to deal with it.  After all, we are in South Carolina, and it is July.  Shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

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I quickly passed my son right out of the gate.  He was having some stomach issues, which I hated for him, but we’ve all been there.  I completely understood that this would not be his day.  I usually have him ahead of me, sort of pacing myself, keeping my eye on him out in front, but not this time.  The route took us through beautiful low country roads, in and around Jarvis Creek Park.  I quickly found a good rhythm and began a good breathing pattern.  Steady from the start the crowd thinned fairly well by a half mile in.  I reached mile 1 at 6:48.  Ok, right on plan, I said to myself.  Keep moving.  As we headed out toward Hatton Place, there were a few sections that went through roundabouts.  Coming back on the first I spotted my older son, he was shaking his head to say, “this is a nightmare”.  I felt bad, but had to push on.  Approaching mile marker two, my pace was slowing, but not terribly.  I hit the marker at 14:10.  7:05 pace, which I was ok with giving the fact that I was gunning for a sub 22.  At this point I knew that if I kept on pace I could do it with a good push at the end.

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Mom pictured above – heading toward the finish.

After looping around mile 2 marker, we headed back, and it gave me another opportunity to see my boys.  This time I got to see only my younger son, who was looking really strong.  We made the turn back onto Pembroke Drive, and headed back to the Park to the finish.  I tried looking for Mom, but never caught a glimpse of her on the run.  I hoped she was having a good run/walk.  Soon enough I was at only a half mile to go.  I felt strong.  I knew that I could just pump it a little harder, and make my goal.  Closer and closer, I maintained pace, and kicked it up a notch into the finish line.  Garmin time 21:45.  I made it!!

I grabbed a few waters, and headed back to watch everyone come in.  I wanted to cheer on my kids, and then Mom, as well.  Not a shocker, but a first in 7 races together, my younger son crossed the line ahead of my older son.  Based on his complaining about abdominal cramps, I was surprised that he even finished.  He did though, not with a pretty time at all for him, but he did not give up, and still finished.  I am very proud of both of my kids, and feel very fortunate that I can share racing experiences with them.  Mom eventually came into view, and we roared with excitement for her.  She was doing it!  Racing for the first time at age 71, I have to hand it to her.  Kudos galore!  I quickly started to jog next to her to coach her to the finish.  She was thrilled.

Official results are now posted.  There were 1,632 runners.

I finished 113th overall, and 13th in my AG, with an official firecracker/gun time of 21:50.  Almost a sub 7 pace.  I haven’t had a race that fast since March 10, 2012.

My younger son had his second best time, my older had his worst 5k finish, but my Mother was the star of the day, coming in at 46:39, just over 15 minutes per mile pace.  She finished ahead of almost 200 runners.  Fantastic in my book!  Truly a family affair.

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Then it was off to the beach!!!!

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Good food and home made ice cream topped off the night, after some swimming, biking and even a couple sets of tennis.  Total exhaustion now, but a truly wonderful day.  Happy 4th of July everyone, from our neck of the woods in Hilton Head!

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Upcoming Races

Here is a list (not solid yet) of upcoming races on my calendar.  My quest for 13 Half and Full Marathons for 2013 continues into the Summer and Fall.  There are a bunch of options, but spacing them out is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

Image  Taking a trip to South Carolina next month and will do this race with my kids.  This is one of the top 10 biggest races yearly in the state.

Image  On recommendation of folks that have run this race before, this Half Marathon is on my list during a road trip to NY this August.  This race will put my Half/Full count at 7 for the year.  That leaves 6 more for Fall.

9/21 –  Midtown Race Series Johnson Lexus Half Marathon in Raleigh

Image  I’ve already signed up for this Marathon in Asheville, NC.  I ran the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate earlier this year in March, and just fell in love with the City of Asheville, so I thought I would return in the Fall for the City Marathon.  Completely different course.  I took advantage of the discount they were offering on National Running Day!

Image  Running this race again, as it is a favorite, and I am friends with the race director Paula.

image  The Bull City Race Fest!  This event is on 10/20, and I am signed up for the Half Mary.  This will be my first time running this event.

I may run the Greensboro Marathon on 10/26.

Hallowed half  I ran this hilly Half last year.  It is a Halloween themed race that was really tough, but very enjoyable.  Not sure I can do a back to back Half and Full the same weekend.  Jury is still out on this weekend.

City of oaks  The City of Oaks is our local marathon in the Fall, and this will be my first year running it.  I work along the race route, and have worked the last two years on race day.  It makes me very jealous to watch the masses pass by, but this year will be a different story.

Depending on if I get all these races in, my goal will be complete at this Marathon on 11/3.  If I happen to miss one of the events listed above, I have a fall back on race, the Skinny Turkey Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day.  I have run that race the last two years, and really want to reach my goal prior to that this year so that I can just eat on Turkey Day.

So, what do you think of this schedule?  It means either 4 or 5 marathons this year, and either 8 or 9 Halves.  Lofty goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, but I can make it, if I stay focused, trained and injury free.