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New Orleans Half Marathon Recap

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First Half Marathon - Frederick Half

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Tower of Terror 10 Miler Finishers

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The Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler. Our first RunDisney Event. Click here for a full race recap

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New York Rock n Roll 10K

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Army 10 Miler Race Recap

Army 10 Miler

Inspirational run!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Frederick Half Marathon 2013

A return to the beginning

It’s hard to believe that it has been a full year since I ran my first half marathon in Frederick MD. Time flies when you are working, raising kids, and training. Over the past year I have participated in many other races in huge cities and with tons of people…but the Frederick Half Marathon has a special place in my heart. Aside from the fact that it was my first half marathon, which makes it special in its own right, this race had a special charm all its own. So much so, that it is worth noting that it is the only race from 2012 that I am repeating in 2013 (and there were many races that I ran in 2012 that I really liked).

 We signed up for this race months ago and we had two half marathons and a 10 miler in the meantime that distracted me enough that this race sorta snuck up on me.

The week before the race I went to the local Sports Authority to pick up my race packet.  Kudos to the organizers of the Frederick Running Festival for coming up with this method of Packet Pick-up. It was so easy and convenient! Awesome idea and I would hope that more races start to add this option.

As with last year, we headed to Frederick on the Saturday before the race to have dinner with friends that live in the Frederick area. Mike and his wife put us up for the night since they have a huge house and the hotels in Frederick are not the greatest. (as we found out last year)

We had pizza for dinner and cookies afterwards….have I mentioned that carb-loading fricking rocks???

It was interesting that after a year of running races, we all were far less nervous for this race than we had been last year BUT not totally without nerves.

We turned in reasonably early (9:30 pm) and I actually slept pretty well. I’m not big on staying at other people’s houses because I generally feel uncomfortable. However, I was fine at Mike’s…even though he wouldn’t let me bunk with him. J

Next morning – I woke up early and went and grabbed a bagel for breakfast and started drinking some Gatorade. Overall, I felt great but I also was starting to get nervous.

In the months leading up to this race, I had had once successive good race after the other and I really wanted to parlay that into a good finish in Frederick. Also, I found out that there is additional pressure in running a race that you have run before.  The nightmare scenario is something going wrong and actually not beating your previous years’ time…particularly when I ran this race just to finish the year before. This all started to weigh on me.

By the time we got to the venue, we only had about a half hour to go before the race started, which in my estimation is perfect timing. You have time to hit a port-o-pottie and get to the starting line without too much pressure or too much waiting…. I like it.

With just a few minutes to go….Tiffany hit silent mode. This is a very rare condition that only occurs when she is nervous and it is almost impossible too eek any words out of her.

So, let’s talk my goal for this race. The previous year, I ran it in 2:19 and I was fairly happy with that as it was my first half marathon. Since that time, I had run two other half marathons where I shaved a little time off in each. So officially, my goal was to beat my previous PR…However, my unofficial goal was to blow it up as I had with my previous 10 Miler… I wanted to average under a 10 minute pace and finish in 2:10...crushing my PR of  2:16 57

National Anthem time….
And then we were off

We started closer to the start-line this year and it was not nearly as congested in the first mile as it had been the previous year.  Tiffany and I quickly separated. (which can also be read as she left my slow ass behind)

Frederick came out again… There were people throughout the majority of the town cheering on the runners. This is one of my favorite things about this run…I really like the town and love the fact that those in town come out and support the event.

For those that didn’t read my 2012 recap of the Frederick Half Marathon, I will paraphrase what I said about running in the town of Frederick… The downtown area is interesting in that in some ways it appears to be from a time gone by…however, it is obviously thriving. Frederick is quaint, charming, idyllic, and somehow…modern and cool. Simply put, it’s a great place to run.

The first mile flew by and a look at my Garmin Forerunner 10 showed that I ran it in 8:35. Simply put, this is too fast for me and I immediately slowed down a bit.

About a mile and a half in, I hit the water station and it was manned by tons of excited volunteers and it was easy/quick to grab a drink. This is the way water stations are meant to be run… (hear that, Rock n Roll DC)

The second mile was a bit of a grind. It’s not atypical for me to struggle early on because I’m not in the groove yet and it just seems like there is soooooo far to go. Nonetheless, my legs felt good and I was having no issue maintaining a slightly faster pace than I needed.  I finished the second mile in 9:04.

The third and fourth mile flew by as I enjoyed the scenery of running down Market St. It is one of the main streets in Frederick and the crowd support was excellent. As a bonus, we ran by one of my Favorite Restaurants…VOLT. My pace was in the 9:15 range for these two miles…still pretty fast as I was hoping for 9:30-10:00 miles. I decided to slow it down more just so I wouldn’t run out of steam in the last few miles.

The fifth mile was run at a slower pace of 9:50… but it frankly felt too slow. My running has been improving quite a bit in the months leading up to this race and I decided to run where it felt natural. 

So, I downed my first GU, admired the scenery in Baker park and picked up the pace…

 The sixth and seventh mile, I fell into a nice groove and hit a pace of 9:23 and 9:33 respectively. One of the joys in running races is where you sorta zone out and find yourself further along than you thought you were.  

I was wearing a Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon t-shirt and I had a fellow runner come up and ask me if I ran there.  Turns out that he ran there as well and we spent quite a while talking about that race…probably about a miles worth. The good news is that mile flew by…the bad news is that I got progressively more and more winded the longer we talked. So, at the next water break I took the opportunity to peel off, grab some water, walk for a minute and basically separate myself from that guy. (although I enjoyed talking to him…I wanted to get my wind back)

It was around the 8 mile mark that I realized how far ahead of pace I was and that I was on pace to destroy by previous PR and even beat my optimistic goal of 2:10. As with the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler though, I told myself to only focus on keeping my pace below 10 minute miles and the rest would work itself out.

Okay – time for an aside here. Blogging about running has generally been easy but there are times that it is difficult. There are times when being honest does not always cast oneself in the best light. For instance, I hated writing the St. Michaels Half Marathon recap…because it caused me to admit that I fell apart in just about every way. Well, todays example isn’t nearly that bad… but it does cast me in a corny light. (oh well)

I have had moments where the doubt starts to creep in and the running naysayers in my head take over. One of the common methods for getting through this is repeating a Mantra…such as “Just keep running” or “One step at a time”. I have tried this in the past and it has not worked at all…because I kinda felt like I was faking it. It reminds me of the scene in every Vampire movie where the non-believer tries to pull a crucifix and the Vampire crushes it or brushes it aside.

So, I am embarrassed to say this but I had a Mantra come to me and I had no freaking clue where I had heard it. “Sign the painting!”

Lol – it’s looks even worse reading it than it sounds saying it. (in my head)

Okay, so…. “Sign the Painting”. As I said, I wasn’t sure where it came from but I knew it was in a competition of some sorts and it was another way to say “finish what you have started”. To me, it totally worked because it evoked the idea that all of the hard work is wasted if you don’t finish strong. So, it popped in my head out of nowhere and kept coming back every time I started to feel tired. Honestly, it gave me strength and stopped the negative bargaining that sometimes happens….  “You are so far ahead of pace that you could slow down for a while and be fine” became “Sign the painting”.

So, with my new (terrible) mantra in place…I proceeded through the 8th and 9th mile in about 9:30 to 9:40 pace. I passed the 10 mile mark around an hour and 35 minutes in. This was faster than my fastest 10 Miler time and I knew that, barring a major malfunction, I was going to beat the 2:10 optimistic mark I had set. I started doing the math on how slowly I could run the final 3 miles and still finish under that mark…but then I remembered… “Sign the damn painting!”

The 11th and 12th mile were tough for me as I had genuinely pushed my pace beyond anything I had ever done, but I refused to allow my pace to creep over 10 minute miles…after all, I had a Mantra now. I couldn’t let my Mantra down!  I finished them both around a 9:50 pace.

When I past the 12 mile marker and I knew I only had a little over a mile to go, I picked up my pace again. I wanted to finish this 1.1 miles under the 9:50 pace I had settled into. I pushed on and generally felt really good as it was becoming reality that I was going to do everything I had set out to do that day.

With a little less than a half mile to go, I hit the big, long hill that kicked my butt the previous year.... But the previous year, I didn’t have a Mantra! I tore up this hill! "Sign the F#ck#ng painting!!!!"

The final run through the stadium was in much better shape this year and I finished at a near sprint.

I crossed the finish line in 2:04:14 and beat my previous best by 13 minutes.

I always feel a wave of emotion when I finish a run…but this was different. I was overwhelmed with pride and exhaustion… my normal masculine defenses let down for a minute and I cried. God…I don’t know why I write this damn thing.

I received the following Finishers Medal. This is a huge improvement over the previous years medal and it is now one of my favorites.

Frederick half marathon finisher medal 2013

We grabbed our beers and our race jackets. This thing is really, really nice. Between the new medal and the jacket, I have to say that this race has some of the best swag that we have received. In fact, it is right up there in value with the Wicked 10k.

In summary, this was/is my favorite race that I have run. That’s saying something considering how many races we have run and the scale of many of them. The Frederick Organizers do a really nice job and I don’t have any complaints on this race.

I will be doing this again next year and I recommend that you do as well.

I am going to resist the urge to finish this post with “sign the painting”…but I will note that I am curious if that will work for me in the future or if it was a one-time thing. I hope it sticks around and works…while I have admitted that it is not the coolest thing ever (or even close), it did work for me and that is really all that matters. (or at least that’s what I tell myself)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Roar for Autism 5k - Race and Event Recap

Running for Charity

I was approached in February to see if I would write a promotional post of the Kennedy Krieger Institutes ROAR for Autism 5k. I was honored and immediately agreed.  This led to the following post

I decided to do them one better and actually run the race with the whole family. I wanted to (Cliché warning)put my money where my mouth was.

So, this past weekend Tif, Boy, Middle, Little, and I headed out to Cockeysville to run what I thought would be a very small race. I was surprised when I got there to see that there were a lot of people (several hundred- best guess)there to run and support an excellent cause.

We signed up just minutes before the race started and walked to the starting line. I was touched to see how many people were wearing personalized shirts that reflected who they were running for.

Tif and I had run several half-marathons in the months leading up to this event so the idea of running a 5k with the family was a welcome change. We decided that she would run with Boy who would be the fastest of the kids and I would run with Little who would be the slowest.  Well, once we got going Little took off and caught up to Mommy (love that little firecracker).  So, the three of us ended up running together and the older kids ran ahead.

Little ran almost the entire first mile and was making friends with every group we passed. “Awwww…she is so cute” and “We just got passed by a toddler” were among the things I overheard. J

The course was a lot of fun. It started on the roads/paths of the park but eventually took us out through some really hilly fields. There were great views and it was just a nice relaxing run. I have to take my hat off to the volunteers who were fired up and yelling encouraging words to all of the runners.

Little ran probably 80% of the race and finished in 40 minutes (even after falling at one point on a slick downhill.) As soon as we crossed the finish line I scooped her up and carried her for a few minutes.
3.1 miles on 4 year old legs is incredible and I figured she deserved a free ride for a bit.

Boy and Middle were waiting for us and they were both excited that they beat their best times as well. It is awesome how great racing makes you feel after you are done and I was very proud of all of them.

We headed over and picked up some top-notch refreshments. (Panera French-Toast Bagels ROCK!) We sat around for a little while and talked about the race. Good times.

After that, I got the kids all some shaved ice and we walked around the family fun fair. Kennedy Krieger did an excellent job with this as well. There were activities all over the place and enough happening that you didn’t have to wait too long for anything.

We watched the Mascot Races which the kids got a kick out of. Many of the local mascots (Oriole Bird, Baltimore Raven, Loyola Greyhound, etc) had to run through an obstacle course in a series of heats. It was entertaining and I was so freaking happy to see the Greyhound beat that god-forsaken Raven! J

Long and short – we all got some exercise, supported a great cause and had an excellent morning. The ROAR for Autism 5k  far exceeded my expectations and the kids all said they would like to do it again next year. (which I am all for)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - Race Recap 2013

Washington DC - April 14th 2013

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Recap

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is very difficult to get into. They have an annual lottery where runners are chosen at random for the event and it seems that more are rejected than chosen.

Well, I decided that it was worth entering since it was unlikely that we would get in. They, like many lottery driven races, have a special inclusion for those that have failed to be chosen after several consecutive years. So, I figured we would start the long process of failing to be chosen, year after year, so that we could eventually get a guaranteed entry.

But, as sometimes happens…the running fates smiled on Tif and I and we were chosen the first time we entered. (Should have played the lottery that day)

This was our third race of 2013 and it followed two half-marathons that I PR’d. With that in mind, I went into this race feeling confident (weird, right??)Sure, I had to beat my Army 10 Miler time from the previous year, which I was pretty happy with, but I thought I could do it based on the times I had put up in the New Orleans Half Marathon and the DC Half Marathon.

Something to mention here – I have started doing something that defies every rule of running but it is working for me. I do not run for at least a week and a half before any race. I did it the first time before the New Orleans Half because that was supposed to be a “just for fun” race and I was feeling a little beat down with 2 weeks to go. So, I started that race and found that my legs felt really, uh, springy?? Yeah, Springy! Running was easy… my legs felt light and I was moving faster than I had hoped to. Well, I did the same thing before the DC Half and again felt fast and light.

So, for the two weeks before the race….I did nothing other than swim and the elliptical. (swimming sucks by the way)

The day before the race we headed down to DC to go to the expo, pick up our packet and do some carb loading! Okay, so the first note on the expo at the National Building…this is the nicest building I have ever been in for an expo. Marble columns, water fountains, the worlds smallest steps. (seriously, are those steps weird or what…each rises about 2 inches and I think I could ride a bike up them)

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Recap - Expo
Nice Expo Location

Running For It Girls

Anyway – the packet pick up was really well organized and easy to deal with. I was concerned that going on Saturday afternoon was going to be painful, but there was almost no wait at all. I chose not to upgrade our race shirts and was sorry about that. The design on the shirt is nice but it is obvious just based on feel that these are not high quality shirts. Oh well… I have far too many race shirts anyway.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Running For Boston

I have been quiet on the Blog over the past week.

The long and short is that I was shocked by the bombing in Boston and couldn't find the right tone for any post... I started a couple times and just didn't really know how to capture what I wanted to say.

Well, a week has past and our nations fine law enforcement officers have gotten the 2 suspects and I figured it was time to comment. (briefly)

The fact that the bombing targeted a running event is terrible...but no more so than it would have been if it had targeted a concert or bus or whatever. With that said, I have found that I think about this every time when I am out running. I want to honor that city and race over my next few runs(at least)

With that in mind, I am kicking around the idea of putting this custom version of my logo on a tech shirt and running in it for a while. It is a simple way to sorta represent Boston. It is also what I fully expect to be thinking about when I run the Frederick Half in a week and a half.

By the way, the Frederick Half Marathon Organizers have asked all of the runners to wear either yellow or blue laces as a show of solidarity for the City of Boston. A classy move, in my opinion.

My wife is a devotee of the Saucony Kinvara 3. Well, Saucony released a Boston Marathon Special Edition  of the brand new Kinvara 4 in honor of that event (prior to the race and bombing).

We had them delivered this week so she will be representing while wearing these.

So, with this post complete... I am going to work on my long- overdue Cherry Blossom 10 Miler recap.

Thanks for stopping by and let me know what you think of the logo and/or shoes.

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