Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Geist Half Marathon - Fisher's, IN

I have decided with my blog, I will give a light overview of my performance, to include results; however, I am not going to bore you with pre-race meals, descriptions of my attire and what I did to recover. Instead, I would like to provide some tips on preparation and an overview of the races I participate in so you can make the choice whether to run them and if running is for you. No pressure!
Geist is always awesome! Mr. Tom Britt is a top-notch fella and runners can always expect great swag, amazing volunteer excitement and views unlike any other. 
After a bit of a late start, for good reason, we were off and running in my 6th Geist Half Marathon. The course changed this year; however, the experience did not! Organizers and volunteers were a their best on a chilly, beautiful morning around the reservoir. The first half of the race went quick. It seemed mostly downhill, and the second half of the race proved my theory with proof. The last three miles are extremely tough. Conquering this course and crossing the finish is a definite accomplishment, as runners are rewarded with goodies, medals and cheers. Awesome as usual Geist Half team. Thanks again! 
Aside from my hometown race, the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon, Geist has a fond place in my heart. I am alway treated well up there.
Here are my results:
37th overall place of approximately 1506 participants
Overall time 1:32:09, pace 6:58/mi
36th in gender and 5th in age division

Pretty darn good for such a beautiful yet tough course.
Geist is one of the top three races I have participated in the Midwest. Aside from the race, the area is beautiful with nice places to stay, eat, shop and enjoy. Come for the experience of the Geist Half Marathon and stay a few days for the warm hospitality and scenery Fishers and the Great Indianapolis area offers.


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Thank you for reading, commenting and, as always, HAPPY RUNNING!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Moving on Up - an Age Group - What a B-day Present!

Moving on Up - an Age Group - What a B-day Present!
April 26, 2014 - Wow, another awesome year of running! I have not posted on the blog in ten (10) months. The last time I wrote was in June of 2013, following the hardest road race in recent memory. Heat, hills and blaring sun is a difficult recipe to stir up for a strong race, and I felt every part of it. Since, I have PR'd once in a ten-mile race and twice in half marathons. The last PR was in the KDF Half, my hometown love, in my last race in the 30-34 age group, finished in 1:28:05, good enough for 106th place, overall.

In 2013, I ran 13 half marathons, 1,615 miles, in 204 hours and 36 minutes. As of today, since 2008, I have logged 8,600 total miles. Pretty cool!!!

Now, I move on the an equally competitive, if not more, age group: 35-39. Runners are at their peak and this is their chance to run the best miles and races of their competitive or recreational running career. I am no different. I love running and I put a great deal of effort into every race. I have completed around 60 half marathons, and countless other distance races, and still love it like my first.

I have enjoyed the ride, seeing places, spending time with my wife, and building a great relationship with my running partner, Thomas Hines. I celebrate victories within races, flaunt UK gear no matter the city and take in the magnitude of the effort I put forth, the enjoyment I get in return, and the person my hobby has made me over the years.

I vow to keep scheduling races (I have the Backside Trail Half Marathon tomorrow morning), to keep enjoying and making the most of the hobby I love so much and to keep letting the result grow me as a better husband, son, friend, person, and even one day as a father. I hope to have an impact on people for the better, and that's all I want for my birthday, today. :) Thanks to everyone for the inspiration.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 Varmint Half Marathon Review & Results - Burkes Garden, VA

Five races in the last seven weeks and seven half marathons in far!

No posts have been written for my last two races, Geist and Bernheim Trail, well, because both are awesome and I have posted tremendous feedback to the organizers and they just keep getting better!

Where I found the Varmint Half, I am not too sure. The drive to nearly the most western tip of Virginia took us through Coal Miner Country. We drove I-64 East for nearly two hours and the remainder were tense, white-knuckled back roads through the mountains and mining towns. Beautiful mountains and terrain and some of the hardest working, proud, people in the world were just some of my observations the last couple days. Similar to us as proud runners, coal miners have personalized license plates and stickers on vehicles to show how they feel about a really tough, dirty, dangerous industry.

Our stay was at a Super 8 Hotel in Pounding Mill, VA, about 45 minutes from the start on the Varmint Half Marathon. Due to the far distance, we test drove to the start/finish. Absolutely a beautiful area of our nation! Mountains and knobs and huge rocks; the scenery looked like the Shire from Lord of the Rings. Driving up Burkes Garden Road had me hoping this was not the race route, made up of tight winding roads up the side of a mountain. Again, the view from up there were nothing short of breathtaking.

After that voyage, Ames and I dropped Cali off back at the hotel and set out for dinner at Cuz's Uptown Barbecue. Just three miles from our hotel, Cub's is a local favorite eccentric dining. The staff were pretty friendly and the food was good. Not exactly the ideal pre-race meal with a filet; however, that steak did the trick!

The morning came and off to the Burkes Garden Community Center we went. Early arrival is always good for my one mile warm up. In this race, packet pick up was the morning of. For the record number of runners, Charity and her staff were well organized and ready for the crowd. Pickup was in a gym older than me. The old basketball floor and the baskets with the plywood backboards were an awesome sight to see. This is small town livin'!!! Off to run a mile, kissed Amy and Cali, and to the start I went. Here is how my race went:

Miles 1-3: Temperature at race time was awesome: overcast and about 63 degrees. I made the mistake of getting out in front. I looked at the elevation and last year's results, so I thought I could run with those boys - big mistake! Mile 1 was a 6:45/mi pace - big mistake with some steep, mountainous hills coming up. We made the turn at mile one and up we went. I felt good about my first leg with a strong pace; however, there was still a long way to go and the temps were rising.

Miles 4-6: The second leg was no easier. After miles two through five, the Varmint had bit me and I knew it. I paced pretty good through this leg. After a cool start, the sun blared with the open road ahead. No shade and my goose was cookin'!
The Garmin did not do justice to the elevation. WOW!

Miles 7-10: The hills just kept coming. This part of the route was similar to running the country roads of Kentucky in the Bourbon Chase, only hotter. Mile 8 is where I met my threshold. My hip pointers were screaming from last weekend's trail half, I was dripping with sweat and I knew a saving some energy for the final leg and finishing would be a great accomplishment. So, at a couple inclines, I walked to recharge a little. My legs were toast and there is know shame in considering personal safety when out on the course. My goal is always to finish safely where I can run another day. Mile 9 was a 7:52/mi pace and mile 10 dropped all the way to 8:32/mi. I knew, run or walk, I had to keep moving forward.

Miles 11-13.1: My final leg started off a little conservatively at a 7:58/mi pace. I was definitely fine with that. At this point in the run, my butt was kicked, I was exhausted and the goal was to finish. As always, a little adrenaline kicked in, pacing mile 12 at 7:30/mi and mile 13 at 7:18/mi. After a painful, grueling, hilly, hot and exhausting race, I was thankful I finished safely. Here are my results:
Well deserved after a grueling race!

Bib: 117
Finish Time: 1:39:02
Overall Place: 24 of 283
Division Place: 6 of 22
Average Pace: 7:34/mi

Virginia is my 16th state where I have finished a half marathon; just under one-third of the way to my goal. The drive and the area we visited was truly gorgeous and the people were so nice! Charity McDaniel and her team did a fantastic job organizing and accommodating to a record number of participants. The feel good story of this race to me was mentioned in the pre-race announcements: 
While I do not recall her name, a lady participating in the race (which made all 20) was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery two days ago, and had the will and determination to keep her streak alive. I hope this message finds you well: you are an inspiration to everyone that ran today and, to all I am sure that know you. Keep fighting the good fight!

The 20th annual Varmint half had it all: challenges, hills, good competition, nice volunteers and a homely feel and just a great vibe. Admittedly, the half marathon, my 40th, was the most challenging. I came in expecting to win an award and it did not happen. I finished successfully and safe and ready to race again!
Our traveling companion! Ready to be home!

Another great trip with Ames and Cali and now for some well-deserved rest! Here are my next scheduled races. I hope to add a couple more in the this year!

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    Thank you for reading, commenting and, as always, HAPPY RUNNING!

Monday, May 13, 2013

2013 Gnaw Bone Extreme Trail Half Marathon Review & Results

Trail running is much different than the roads. With more adventure, obstacles and so much green, you feel like part of nature letting you run through its beauty. There is also the thrill of getting muddy and overcoming streams, tree roots and slippery rocks and coming out safely, with a little blood or a couple of scratches. Trails are simply a different set of elements, which I have added within my love of running.

The Dances with Dirt ( Gnaw Bone Extreme Trail Half Marathon was an awesome event from start to finish. Upon signing up, I had no clue where to set my expectations. I received and read the Waiver, which all runners are required to sign, which was the first time I had ever read a waiver for a race. Honestly, the mention of broken bones and death made me think. In conversation with Derek at Blue Mile of Louisville, I made mention. His response: "You mean the death waiver?!" While this made me laugh, Derek did make me feel much more at ease about the race. Once that obstacle was overcome, I was confident and ready for race day.

Days leading up to the race made for fun conditions with a lot of rain and low temperatures. This meant  sloppy and muddy conditions - my favorite! Race day temperature was a prime 44 degrees and overcast.

Before the start of the race, the announcer described mile two as the "shittiest mile of the race." This set the tone for my race - get through mile two and the rest would be smooth sailing. After a few more announcements, we set off into the woods of Brown County State Park. here is how my race went:

While I can break my road races down into sections for mental purposes, trail runs are much tougher. My approach to trails is to break the race down by major inclines. Gnaw Bone had three. The major climb was at the beginning. When the race started, runner were lead up a fire road to a sloppy climb. Due to earlier races, the mud was deep and soft - the kind that will take your shoe right off! My strategy up the first climb was to follow and keep up with a fast runner and use their footprints as plant points. This would, for the most part, help me avoid sinking. Good strategy - still almost lost a shoe four times. 

Mile 2 was, as promised, the toughest and slowest mile of my race, with a 10:58/mi pace. Pace was not an issue for me. In trail runs and races, my goal is to come out safely and let pace take on a life of its own. The slow pace of mile two would prove to be a great contribution toward my finish. Once mile two was done, I was positive the rest of the race would be at least, easier than mile two.

Through trails and campsites and winding through the park, terrain was varied and the focus was safety. Throughout the race, I tried to stay behind runners and use their footing as safe spots. Two times I had a runner wipeout in front of me. Once I made sure they were okay, I continued on. Luckily, I stayed upright and avoided falls. 

One of the best parts of the race, besides the challenge of mile two, was the last mile. Running downhill through long grass, I felt separated from others running the half, while passing some 10K'ers. Once down the hill, all the mud was washed of while running through a few creeks. The day was cool and the water was cold. At one point, the stream was nearly waist deep and I thought about swimming! After tackling that obstacle, I emerged from the water, legs numb, and hit the last quarter mile hard! Crossing the finish line was awesome, especially when seeing my time. Here are my official results:

Bib# 2043
Age 30-34: 1st Place (see video)
Overall: 5 of 180
Official Time: 1:55:10

This, my third trail half marathon, was an awesome race! The course was well-routed and marked,  volunteers and organizers were awesome, and the medals, shirts, and "death waiver" are awesome!  The under two hour time was a great accomplishment for me, along with a first place age group finish. Thanks to DWD for a great event. See you next year!

My race schedule gets no easier:

My Race Schedule

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    Thank you for reading, commenting and, as always, HAPPY RUNNING!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 KDF Mini Marathon

What a great day!
My hometown race is always the most special and this one did not disappoint.

The Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) Mini Marathon is always a great race. In the midst of Derby events, the race falls on or near my birthday (April 26) and alway draws a large crowd. This year, 18,000 runners gathered on a prime running morning to run a route worthy of traveling to our great city to tour. From the Louisville Slugger Factory/Museum and YUM! Center on Main around and through the old victorian mansions and the University of Louisville campus, in and out of Churchill Downs then back down to our beautiful waterfront, the views take your mind off the effort and strain of 13.1 or 26.2.

I set out to the start feeling good and ready for a smooth and steady race. Unlike last year, when I ran with such emotion, my sixth KDF Mini in 2013 was not to set a PR or to run my best time; my goal was to run with my friend Thomas and let our conditioning and feeling guide us to an efficient and safe finish.

Thomas and I met up for our ritual warm-up run. We ran a mile to loosen up the legs and get set. Once complete, we headed toward the start. The National Anthem was AWESOME, as always, followed by a necessary moment of silence for Boston and those affected. We took our place in the pack and, after the cannon blast, we were off.

As planned, we ran a nice smooth and efficient pace. West on Main Street, then around toward Churchill Downs, the weather was perfect with overcast skies and 50 degrees. An observation during the race was the continuance of support of my fellow Louisvillians. Despite the events of Boston and the fear of many, our residents were out in full force and cheering louder than ever. We appreciate that more than you know and it always makes me smile!

South into Churchill Downs and north out the tunnel toward the river, only four miles are left to the finish. This part of the race is like a straightaway in the Derby, with a couple light hills. After much conversation and pulling each other along, Thomas and I turned the last couple corners to Preston Street and another finish line in the KDF Mini.

Official finish time: 1:36:37, 7:23/mi pace.

As I said before, I appreciate the reminders the race gives of such an awesome city we live in. Possibility City we call it. We are artsy, unique, full of landmarks and beautiful sights and saturated by great, creative, hospitable residents.

As with every race, feedback is necessary to improve the following year. We felt like some cost-cutting measures were a little obvious in the 2013 KDF Mini. The one that stood out the most was the lack of sports drink at the hydration stations. While I can only recall two stops with a sports drink, at those two stops there were only two people handing it out, and we had to ask. My recommendation is to use two different color cups and have some one yelling or have a sign letting runners know what to look for. Set the expectation in the FAQs before the race so runners can better manage their run. Second, their was no chocolate milk at this finish. With 18,000 runners, there has to be a vendor will in to supply or show up at the finish. Chocolate milk is a growing need for hydration and recovery and is a must-do for 2014. Please.

Other than those, Thomas and I ran well and enjoyed the race. I remember coming out of Churchill Downs and being so proud of Louisville, KY. The KDF truly puts on one of the nations best races and has tremendous local support. Our city comes out, stands up and cheers as needed.

As for me, this is the time of year where my race schedule ramps up:

    Thank you for reading, commenting and, as always, HAPPY RUNNING!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Run for Boston

The last couple weeks have been moving for the running community in Louisville, KY. For me, I took special interest in the events in Boston, having a good friend up there, thinking about how many finish lines I have crossed, and how people can be so inhumane. On the flip side, I have been inspired by the show of selflessness and humanitarianism of people, not only in Boston or around the world, but from the residents of my hometown of Louisville, KY. 

Monday night, the running community met a Hogan's Fountain in Cherokee Park. I had the pleasure and honor of running there with the good people of Blue Mile Highlands. Runners came from all directions and all stores in the Louisville area to meet and have a moment of silence at 6:26pm. This was a good show of a community pulling together, not for money, but for a common cause, a purpose, an interest, in which we all find solace: running. Being in that moment with so many recreational athletes was special to me. 
Finish lines will never be the same. While we will all think of Boston with every line we cross, let us also be thankful for the ability to be able to run free and cross those finish lines. While you are inspired by Boston, always keep in mind, as a runner, you inspire people with your story. 
This weekend and the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini and Full marathon, runners I ask you to not only take joy in and be proud of yourself for crossing the finish line; think about how you arrived at that moment in your life. Who or what was it that inspired you, how hard you have worked, what opportunity cost did you sacrifice, all with the finish line in mind. 
Remember Boston, your friends and family that support you, your inspiration, and run a good race. The finish line is waiting for you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

2013 Little Rock Half Marathon

First race of the season is always highly anticipated for a lot of reasons: first race of the season, seeing where my fitness is after the colder training months, sets the tone for the race season, and this one was awesome because it was another state marked off the list.

Amy, Cali and I set off for Little Rock Friday after work. In dark, cold, wet temperatures, driving was tense. We stopped in Jackson, TN, to rest then off to our destination in the morning.
After checking in, and unpacking the baggage, I went to the Expo at the Statehouse Convention Center, which was nice and well-organized. Throught the crowds and back to the packet pack-up, there seemed like a whole lot more runners were participating in this event. The race organizer really did well on the expo. I cannot help but compare this one to Cincinnati's Flying Pig, maybe because of the "Hog-Theme" of Arkansas? This is a great race for beginning runners looking to have a really good time. From cowboy hats, to swag, even to the Volunteer "Western-style" tees, the folks were really welcoming and fun. Even more, I LOVED the additional merchandise available for purchased. I picked up a sweet new pair of socks and a tee the reads, "Thirteen Point Freaking One," so I can just point when some one asks how many miles are in a half marathon.

While we did not get to explore Little Rock too much, we did find a phenomenal place to eat Saturday night: Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro. Great atmosphere, "Award Winning" cheese dip, some great sandwiches, and white Wedding Cake for dessert make the experience prime. The only bad part was the pain I was in as we left the restaurant from my glutonous eating habit - good thing I have a running habit!
Race morning was a chilly 25 degrees. I dressed, kissed Ames and Cali, and set off for a short run to the Clinton Library, across the walking bridge, then around to the start line after 2 miles. Corral A was my start and I felt in place. While I am sure many runners were much faster than I, those people set the tone for my run to be a fast-paced one. After a prayer and our great country's National Anthem, start time had finally arrived. Here is how my race went:

Miles 1-3: I felt really great out of the gates. I had my racing shoes on, my mental state was prime, breathing was good, and my body was quiet. Although around 30 degrees at the start, the sun was blaring I did not feel the cold weather. This was by far my best leg of the race; coincidently, it was also the flattest part of the course! About mile 3, danger hit. Sharp pains started shooting into my right shoulder. I managed to keep up the pace although really struggling. Although I averaged a 6:50/mi pace, I was hurting.

Miles 4-6: Mile 4 was flat, 5 got a little tougher going back over the bridge and 6 got into the gradual hilliness of the course. I felt none of that due to my shoulder pain. Maintain was all I could think of even though I was averaging a 6:56/mi pace throughout my second leg. I was not struggling anywhere else, I just wanted the pain to go away.

Miles 7-10: Mile 7 was a water stop where I decided to walk for a few seconds, get a drink, stretch my shoulder and pray for the pain to subside. Oddly enough, the pain gradually went away over the next mile. I was fine after that, even though I avoided pushing my pace. Strong and steady, I averaged about a 7:10/mi pace. I had my thoughts and sights on the finish, and off I went.

Miles 11-13.1: After splits from those crazy full marathoners, my fitness took over for a valiant race to the finish line. For me, the last leg of my run is always the easiest, really from mile seven on. I keep the mentality that half the race is over, and its all downhill to the finish! Around a few curves and I ran hard for a last mile average pace of 6:54/mi and a strong finish. Crossing the finish line was relieving and another state is in the books.

Bib Number:
Time: 1:32:44
Pace: 7:05/mi
Division Place: 8 of 231
Gender Place: 64 of 1673
Overall Place: 69 of 4431

The Little Rock Half Marathon was a success in my eyes. I have trained for the moment to perform well, I performed well finishing in the top 1.5% of the field, I overcame a little pain, and I cross the finish line. Although I am not competitive with the elite runner that post ridiculously fast times, I am running against myself and those in direct sight. The next runner in front of me is always my goal to overtake.

I mention swag earlier in the post. Included the awesomeness is the Finisher's Medal. While I did not do the full to receive a medal about as round as a basketball (no joke!), the Half Medal was the best earned to date! Big, heavy and glittery, you can tell some serious design played a role in the creation of what has been publish as the best finisher's medal in the country.

The race was well-supported by supporters and AWESOME volunteers, covering nearly the entire course. We were given the opportunity to explore Downtown Little Rock, cross a bridge and see the Governor's Mansion, which was pretty cool. This was a welcoming town with a pretty cool water front. The best quality of this race is the proceeds supported Little Rock Parks and Recreation. I am a huge supporter of this cause due to the beautification of the city and the benefits and encouragement the residents receive to stay active.

On to the next race for me. I have four races scheduled in the upcoming months:
Lincoln Presidential Half - 4/6/13 - Springfield, IL - my 2nd year
Wickedly Fast Half - 4/20/13 - Olathe, KS - Wizard of Oz themed for Ames
KDF Mini Marathon - 4/27/13 - Louisville, KY - my hometown race and 6th consecutive year
Monumental Half - 11/2/13 - Indianapolis, IN - new race for me

We see some great things on the road, going to races and just living life. You can obviously tell I love running as a hobby. Arkansas marks the 15th state I have conquered a half marathon in. Wow! What an opportunity we have to do anything we want to enhance the quality of life. I feel my life is better with running, spending quality time with my wife, meeting people, and talking about my hobby.  As the kids at work say, "That's what's up!"

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Thank you for reading, commenting and, as always, HAPPY RUNNING!