Monday, December 2, 2013

Framingham Turkey Trot 5K Recap

Approaching mile 1 (I'm in the blue shirt)
No Thanksgiving can be complete without a nice morning run, and there's no better way to get a run in than with a turkey trot.

This year I ran my third consecutive Framingham Turkey Trot (officially called the Turkey Classic Road Race). It's a 5K race that begins and ends in the center of town, and consists of a nice loop through some neighborhoods with a mix of flat and rolling hills. Overall it's a really fast course, which is a big benefit, as there's nothing like running fast before a Thanksgiving meal!

This year's race had just under 1,000 finishers and always gets some fast runners out of the house before a big meal. As always, the roads were well blocked off and race officials make sure the race starts on time so everyone can keep to their holiday plans.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Incorrect Assumptions in The Wall Street Journal's Anti-Runner Column

Last week Chat Stafko, a writer living in Freeburg, Ill., wrote an anti-runner article for The Wall Street Journal that put down runners in every possible way. The piece, "Ok, You're a Runner. Get Over It,"was full of confused and incorrect statements, so much that while reading the article aloud to my wife, I couldn't help but laugh and chuckle at several of the points he was trying to make.

I don't usually like to focus on these types of people in this blog, but I wanted to clarify a few things.

Chad writes, There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats. So let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations. I'd even offer to give them a pat on the back—once they're done doing it themselves.

I have a 26.2 sticker on my car, which I put on the bumper six years after running my first full marathon. But I didn't do it to brag. I put it on there after the 2013 Boston Marathon because I wanted to show support for the marathon. I'm sure there are lots of runners who put the stickers on to share their experience as well - not everyone is trying to brag.

Chad writes, Or these runners, when they're not running, can go shopping—at a running store. There's one such store less than 15 miles, or better said, just a bit over a half-marathon, from my house. It sells only running equipment and apparel. The store has been in business several years, so apparently it is making money. This "equipment," of course, is nothing but shoes and clothes. You can buy these same shoes at a sporting-goods store or online, probably for much less.

Running stories don't just have clothes and shoes, there's ton of other random items that are important. And besides, you can order anything online, but stores exist to people can buy things in person. And lots of people go to stores.

Chad writes, Why would someone want to get up at 5 a.m. and run 10 miles adorned with fluorescent tape to avoid being struck by someone who has the good sense to use a car for a 10-mile journey? I have a theory. There is no more visible form of strenuous exercise than running. When runners are dashing down a street in the middle of town or through a subdivision, they know that every driver, every pedestrian, every leaf-raker and every person idly staring out a window can see them.

This was the first time I laughed while reading this. People run because they want to be in shape and exercise. And if you ask any runner, every person will say they'd rather run down an empty road or peaceful trail than on a busy road. However, not every runner has access to those types of areas and if it's dark, that can be really unsafe. Fluorescent colors are used so we don't get hit by a car!

Chad writes, Many of my friends who regularly run have done so for years, decades before there was a thing called social media to put humanity's self-absorption in overdrive. These folks also tend to be infatuated with fitness anyway. If they're not out on the streets showing the sedentary world how it's done, they're at the gym or in a spinning class.

Again, I laughed here. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only runner who hates - despises - the treadmill. Why would I want to workout inside when I can get some fresh air and enjoy the spring flowers, fall colors or a beautiful day in this world? Seriously Chad, even you must know that statement is crazy!

Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

Post-race picture with my brother and cousin, who came to watch
Over the weekend I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon, which came six years after running my first full marathon in this very same event.

The first thing I noticed was how much larger this race is now than it was in 2007. There were about 30,000 runners between the full and half marathon and the organization was much improved. There are now corals and a very organized starting line, in addition to well blocked off streets, lots of fans lining the streets and a larger, more conveniently located expo.

The half marathon (as well as the first 13 miles of the full) wind through Philly's mostly flat city streets, giving runners a historical tour of the city. I ran right by the Liberty Bell, City Hall, plenty of museums and the heart of the city. It also went by the fraternities at Drexel University, which had rowdy and very excited college students cheering everyone on.

Following the race, I (along with many other runners) ran up the "Rocky" steps and snapped a few pictures, including the one with my brother and cousin, who came to watch.

The biggest negative to the race is the quality (or lack thereof) of Philadelphia's streets. There weren't potholes, but the pavement was really uneven, making it difficult to stay balanced at some points. However, that was overshadowed by the positives - if you're on the east coast and looking for a fun race in the late fall, this is the one!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NYC Marathon Gets New Name

Following the 2013 ING New York City Marathon last weekend, NYRR announced that it singed on a new lead sponsor for 2014 - and the following seven years. Gone is the "ING"from the name, which will be replaced by TCS, standing for Tata Consultancy Services.... (and to think the name couldn't get more dull).

These types of sponsorships bring in a lot of money so it's completely understandable why naming rights go to the highest bidder. (On a side note, I hope NYRR is getting a LOT of money out of this sponsorship, because it already has ridiculously high entry fees - in 2013 U.S. runners paid $266 while international participants were set back $358. Yikes!)

However, there's something special about races that aren't named after a company, like the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. Unlike NYC and Chicago, the Boston Marathon is "presented" by it's official sponsor, John Hancock, but the company name doesn't precede the race name. Hopefully it stays that way.

And of course, with the new name comes a new logo as well, featuring the statue of liberty. It's actually a pretty cool look!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gear Review: Stay Visible During WInter Running with Brooks

With clocks falling back an hour this weekend, many runners are beginning a five month stretch where the majority of their training will occur in the dark.

Between the cold, snow, ice and darkness, some people take to treadmills, choosing to run in a controlled temperature and environment. However, if you're like me, you hate the treadmill and want nothing to do with it whatsoever. Therefore, it' time to find some running gear that will keep you safe!

I've tried a lot of nighttime running accessories over the year. I have a very bright jacket (which is awesome), flashing lights (not quite as awesome) and even a light that straps onto - and constantly falls off - my shoe.

Then last week I heard from some nice folks at Brooks (side note - Brooks has the best men's running shorts I've ever found) contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out a couple things. They sent over a Nightlife Arm and Leg Band and a Nightlife Hat. My wife (who is also a runner) and I have been trying them out and are really happy with both items. They're very visible in the darkness and can be easily warn, without adding excess or awkward weight. The only problem is that we'll probably be fighting over the arm bands all winter!

So before you risk your life running outside this winter, make a smart decision and buy these items (or anything from Brooks' Nightlife line, you'll be happy you did!

Katie Lynch Half Marathon Recap

The beautiful scenery of the race
Winding through the beautiful roads of Wayland and Sudbury Massachusetts, the Katie Lynch Half Marathon is an ideal low-key race.

The course is a giant loop that is mostly on quite roads and is filled with rolling hills (plus a few flat stretches) that provides a peaceful escape from the busy city races a daily routine. The fall colors only adds to the enjoyment.

While the course is open to traffic, volunteers and police to a good job of keeping runners safe and traffic in control. Plus, there's a surprising amount of people cheering runners on throughout the race, many of whom have walked down to the end of their driveways.

It was really chilly during today's race, so when pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches were served following the race, it gave everyone something warm and delicious - one of the best post-race meals I've ever seen at a race.

This is certainly a race to do in the future, especially if you live in the area and are used to driving along much of the course, like I am.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Applefest Half Marathon Recap

My prize: a basket of apples
This weekend I ran the 31st and final Applefest Half Marathon in Hollis, NH. The race is in southern New Hampshire and only an hour drive, so the 10 a.m. starting time allowed us to sleep to a reasonable time before driving up.

The race is really well organized even though it isn't huge and the volunteers did a great job of keeping the roads clear and safe for runners. I was also impressed at how loud spectators were, everyone I ran by (none of whom knew me) cheered, which doesn't always happen, but was really nice.

The course itself is stunning. It goes along beautiful country roads during the perfect time of year to see the foliage. I ran by forest, farms and even apple orchards, one of which provided a wonderfully strong smell of apple cider. There are rolling hills throughout, but when there's a downhill I really had the opportunity to get some speed going, resulting in a balanced time overall (I ran the exact same time in the very flat Surftown Half a few weeks ago).

After the race there's a wide selection of snacks including apple crisp, plus the awards for age group winners are giant baskets of apples, which I was lucky enough to take home.

Overall this was an awesome race that I wish I had discovered earlier. Unfortunately, this is the last Applefest Half Marathon that will be run, though the organizers will be creating another race in the future.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Runner's World Half Marathon & Festival Coming to Boston!

Next summer the Runner's World festival - which includes a 5K, 10K and half marathon - is coming to Boston. The races will all take place from June 6-8, 2014 in/around Boston College.

The 5K and 10K will both take place on Saturday morning, while the half marathon will occur on Sunday morning. Runners have the option of running one, two or all three races. Plus, for those interested there will be a seminar, dinner with Runner's World editors plus other activities.

The courses will take place along Heartbreak Hill, the famous stretch of the Boston Marathon, which will ensure that the course is far from being flat!

It's not known if this will be an annual event in Boston or if this is part of a national tour - so far Runner's World has only held races around its headquarters in Pennsylvania. No matter what, this is an event and race you won't want to miss!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Registration Stays Open for Week Two

After a highly watched week of registration for the 2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon, the field limit has not yet been reached and registration will continue through next week, beginning Monday at 10 a.m ET. Last week, only runners with times at least five minutes below their age group qualification mark were allowed to register.

Next week, all runners who qualified are allowed to register, but it will not be on a first come first served basis. Instead, the B.A.A. will wait until everyone wanting to has registered, and take the fastest times (compared to age group qualification marks) and accept those until the field limit i reached.

Earlier this week it was stated that 22,000 qualified runners will be accepted for the 2014 Marathon, despite the field size being increased by 9,000. A significant number of those additional spots are for runners who were unable to finish last years race, and it is speculated additional spots will go to charities, corporate sponsors and towns/cities.

Earlier this week Runner's World reported 11,300 people had registered for the race after four days, but there has been no update since Friday morning, which i when registration opened for people meeting the qualification time by five minutes or more. This could be because it's the weekend, but more likely it is because the B.A.A. doesn't want people to know exactly how many spots are left. Could this be because it wants some flexibility in allowing additional runners in, depending on how many people register next week?

UPDATE: Runner's World reports that 5,000 spots remain open.

Surftown Half Marathon Recap

The 2013 finisher's medal
All the way in the southwest corner of Rhode Island in Westerly, the Surftown Half Marathon is a flat, fast and scenic course that is provides a good opportunity to run fast.

The race is essentially a figure 8. You run two loops that are connected with a straightaway, which you run twice (once in each direction). For a race that's not huge, it was surprising how many people were along the course cheering runners on. It's not a city race or anything, but people were vocal, especially the many great volunteers.

There are several points of the race where you can take in a nice view of the water, but the course is mostly through small neighborhoods and streets. If you're looking for a race that's all about ocean views, try a different one in Rhode Island, such as Newport.

The biggest downside to the race was that its start was delayed about 15 minutes because of the long bathroom lines. And course, they didn't have nearly enough bathrooms.

Side note: I don't understand why races don't have enough of the portable bathrooms brought in. When there are hundreds or thousands of runners, you're going to need more then 15-20 bathrooms. Every time this happens (which is more frequently than anyone would hope) it bewilders me.

In any case, I enjoyed the race overall. It was low-key but still had good competition and a well organized race. I'm not sure if I'll run it again because of I had to wake up really early (4:55am) to drive there, but if I were local this would be on my yearly race calendar.

Overall Ranking: 7 (out of 10)
Course: 8
T-shirt: 7
Medal: 7

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

4,000 Runners Sign Up for Boston Marathon on Day 1

The 2014 Boston Marathon is filling up at a faster rate then the 2013 race did - which comes at no surprise. 4,000 people registered the first day registration opened, which is for runners that met the qualifying standards by 20 minutes or more.

Quoted in Runner's World, B.A.A. spokesperson Jack Fleming said, "We are running less than a couple thousand ahead of year-to-year. Better indicators will be on Wedneday when 10 minutes and faster qualifiers can submit their entry application, and of course on Friday, when 5 minutes and faster qualifies can submit their entry."

Based on Flemming's statement, it appears the B.A.A. expects registration to open at least until Friday. However, message boards are speculating the marathon could fill up during the BQ-5 registration period. We should know a lot more after Wednesday, when the next rush of registration will take place with BQ-10 runners.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boston Marathon Field Size & Registration Date Set

Today the B.A.A. announced the details for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

1. As expected, the field size will increase by 9,000 runners to allow 36,000 runners to take part next year.

2. Rolling registration will open on Monday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. ET.

  • Runners meeting the qualifying standards by 20 minutes or more will be able to register immediately. 
  • Runners meeting the qualifying standards by 10 minutes or more will be able to register on Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. ET.
  • Runners meeting the qualifying standards by 5 minutes or more will be able to register on Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. ET.
  • All qualified runners will be able to register beginning Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. ET.
Of course, at any point registration will fill up and close. My guess is sometime on Sept. 13, and I'm really hoping I'm able to get in (I'm in the 5 minute group). We'll all find out soon enough!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Do People Heckle Runners?

Every runner has heard the typical lines from hecklers:

"Nice shorts!"

"Run Forest, Run!"

"Agggghhhhhh" (usually the drunk person leaning half way out of the car window)

Overall, very few are creative, and some are downright appalling (I'm not going to include those, but it's shocking what some people will scream out their car window).

But no matter what is said, it's amusing to see how proud people can be the moment after delivering a really long, "Runnnn" in their Alabama accent. Forget the fact that it's mostly kids who use the famous movie line and weren't old enough to talk when the film first came out.

I often wonder what people think after they've delivered a line like "nice shorts!" Do they high five their friends and seek congratulations for their perfect delivery? Do they beam with a smile, proud at their ability of screaming out the car window at a perfect stranger? I'm guessing it's a combination of both.

Usually when I hear these lines, I just keep on running. Of course, some of them catch me off guard and I jump a little bit, unsure where the disruptive noise is coming from. I'm sometimes annoyed for a second, but I never give them anything back. While I'm running I'm in own world with me own thoughts, and I want that world to be peaceful.

But mostly, I feel sorry for these folks. Imaging when heckling a runner is a highlight of someone's day - how sad is that. If they could only experience the great feelings that come with running or working out, imagine how much better they'd feel.

So here's my question: are these people heckle runners? Are they angry or jealous?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Boston Marathon Field Growing by 9,000 Runners!

Even though the BAA hasn't made an official announcement, it appears that the 2014 Boston Marathon is going to have an additional 9,000 runners. This is according to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who gave an interview to NECN over the weekend.The first thing this does is account for the 5,633 runners who were given guaranteed entry into the race. These are people who ran at least half way in 2013, but were not able to finish the race.

Adding an additional 3,000+ spots will help meet some of the increased interest in running what will be a very special race. This will also bring a big sigh of relief to many runners who have qualified for the race, but are on the cusp of getting in due to the high demand for a number.The BAA should probably make an announcement about field size and registration details over the next couple weeks, as registration is going to begin in September.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jamestown Half Marathon Recap

The 2013 Jamestown Half Marathon in Rhode Island was the second year the race took place. Overall, the experience can be divided in half - from before the starting gun went off and after the race began.

Before the race began, the Jamestown Half is one of the most poorly planned races I've ever been a part of. With over 2,000 registered runners, there was only one person handing out bib numbers. This resulted in a very long number pick-up line. Additionally, there weren't enough buses bringing runners to the start of the race (everyone must park in Newport and get a ride to Jamestown). The result: The race began about 25 minutes late. It's pretty shocking the race organizers couldn't pull this together better, considering the main sponsor (United Healthcare) also sponsors full and half marathons in Providence and Newport, which are much better organized. On top of it all, the race begins at 6:30am, so it's pretty bad to have something this disorganized so early in the morning.

Once the starting gun went off, the experience drastically changed. The course, which does a full circle of the island, is beautiful from start to finish. There are views of quant homes, beaches, ponds, fields and trees. While there's not a lot of people watching, the people that do attend the race are vocal and supportive. The course has a good mix of flat, uphill and downhill, making it challenging but fast at the same time. Even though there were double the amount of runners as last year, the race was still pretty spread out (for me at least) - after about four to five miles, I couldn't see another runner in either direction.

I've done this race two years now and I'm unsure if I'll return for a third. However, considering the lack of July marathons on New England, this is a very good option.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Running in London

While in London, I had a few days to run and explored two parts of the city. The first day I decided to go for a run along the river. I ended up running west to east, with my turning point being Big Ben. Overall the run was very nice, I saw several parts of the city and there were many people out biking and running to work. However, unlike Boston, the river views were not impressive. There were a lot of buildings and construction sites in the way, and there weren't any of the beautiful sprawling parks I've been used to.

The next two days I changed course and ran through Hyde Park, as I was staying just a couple blocks from the south side of it. Over the two days I ran through pretty much the entire thing and enjoyed every minute of it. There was a wonderful pond to run around, paths reserved for only walkers and runners, and having no cars was a huge plus. Additionally, the park is large enough where I could go 45-60 minutes without repeating anything. If I'm in London again, I'll definitely plan on doing this run again.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Running in Singapore

Last week I ventured to Singapore's Botanical Gardens for a couple run. I was staying about a mile down the street, so it was a quick run to the park, on sidewalks that were nice and wide.

Upon entering the Gardens, I was immediately taken back by how beautiful it was. There were so many trees, flowers and beautiful paths and walkways. Of course, it was incredibly clean and there were people throughout walking, running and enjoying the day.

I ended up running around the Gardens twice and covered most of the paths. They wind around ponds, waterfalls, fields and flower gardens. Additionally, I discovered a long boardwalk through the woods that really made me feel like I was in the jungle. It was a very cool experience and the boardwalk didn't shake at all - again, not surprising for Singapore.

If you're staying closer to the waterfront in Singapore, the other place to go for a run is along the river. There are beautiful, wide sidewalks on the bank and will provide great views of the city. However, the Gardens are definitely worth going to if you're able to. Plus, you can run about 4 miles without repeating any paths (just be prepared to get lost a bit on the winding trails - but it's fun!).

Another thing to be prepared for is the heat. Singapore is really hot and really humid. Make sure you're hydrated and make it an easy run day, because after about 10 minutes you'll really feel it. I'd recommend running in dri-fit because otherwise your shirt will be soaking wet and weigh you down almost immediately.

Also, Singapore is really safe, so even though you may be running around new and unseen territory, it's perfectly fine to do alone.

Phuket 10.5K Recap

On June 9th I ran the Phuket 10.5K in Thailand. I had originally singed up for the half marathon, but due to the heat and humidity (nt to mention three weeks of treadmill running that was more about maintaining shape then anything else) I decided to cut down on the distance.

The race began early in the morning and was mostly flat, with just one uphill. It was great to see the roads blocked off really well and plenty of water stops. Not knowing how my body was going to react to the conditions (i.e. 90 degrees and humid and all hell) I began the race at a comfortable pace and aimed to maintain or pick it up as I went along.

After the first kilometer, I began picking off the runners in front of me ne by one, realizing I felt surprising good and the course was flat. I also had to adjust to having kilometer markers rather than mile markers and did my best to calculate my splits (it was a rough estimate). Unlike most races, I noticed that runners paid close attention to me as I ran by them. This was probably because I stuck out like a sore thumb, but it was a bit weird to experience.

I ended up finishing in 13th place, running just shy of 42 minutes - a pace of around 6:16 miles. After the race I got a quick massage/stretch by the staff, collected my age group award and went for a swim, because I was dripping with sweat.

Overall this was a great experience. It was my second international race (the first I've done in Asia). Of all decisions I made, the best was to rn the 10.5K - the humidity was a killer!

Overall Ranking: 7 (out of 10)
Course: 7
T-shirt: 7
Medal: 6

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trail Running in Hong Kong

Today I went for a run on the trains in Hong Kong - which was a completely new experience. Luckily I had a guide for this tour, someone that I work with. We took a taxi up to the mountains where we picked up the trail.

The route we took altered between dirt trail and paved paths. The paved parts were much easier to run on and still very peaceful - high up and outside of the city. The dirt trains were filled with rocks and were still very wet from the rainstorm the day before. While very challenging, it felt completely different from the rest of the city, almost like running on the volcanoes in Hawaii - we were completely surrounded by rain forest.

We ran for about an hour, and had a lot of great views of the south side of the city. Of course, with the hot temperatures and humidity, I was sweating quite a bit! However, it's a good preview for what my half marathon in Phuket, Thailand will be like.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Thoughts on the 2013 Boston Marathon

This was the first year since 2008 that I did not sign up for the Boston Marathon, wanting to give my legs a rest this winter. However, my wife was running for her second time and I woke up early to drop her off at the starting line in Hopkinton.

After going for a morning run, I watched the first hour of the race at home on TV, paying close attention to the elite women, where two Americans had good chances of competing for the win. Then I drove to Mile 17.5 to watch my wife and several friends run by. It was difficult not running, but I was really happy for them, as they got the chance to run on a beautiful day.

After my wife ran by, I drove to Boston and parked in the Boston Common garage. I walked to the intersection of Boylston and Arlington, where she would exit her corral. She had finished the race in 3:30 and we met up around 2:20 p.m. She had been battling a knee injury but was excited. She had run a good time on the course and said the crowds were huge this year, even louder than last year's 88 degree race. She loved going by the college students at Wellesley and said the BC crowds were rambunctious as usual.

A proud finisher when the day was still normal.
We walked into the Public Garden and she put some warmer clothing on. I snapped a few pictures and she proudly wore her 2013 marathon jacket, which had been untouched in a bag until that moment. She was really hungry so we decided to head home and walked to the car.

Then in one moment, everything changed.

As we left Boston (Storrow Drive to 93 South to Mass Pike West), we began seeing police cars, with sirens blazing, driving by us the opposite way. Then we got a text message from a friend: "Are you guys ok?"

At that moment there was an uneasy feeling in my stomach I knew something bad had happened. I turned on the radio and heard the words, "explosion at Marathon Sports." We knew that was the finish line of the marathon and immediately felt sick. We were shocked and in disbelief.

We soon got home and by that time had several texts and phone calls to respond to, letting family and friends know we were safe. I posted a message on Facebook, realizing it was the best way to alert people we were indeed at home. We were very lucky, but couldn't believe what had happened. We turned on the TV and saw the footage, it just didn't seem real.

What's so great about a marathon is that everyone is a winner. Yes, there are elite racers trying to be the first across the line, but everyone else is just as victories. Runners compete against themselves, trying to beat their own personal times. Some just have a goal of finishing the race, or enjoying the the experience and crowds. Marathons are supposed to be a joyous event for everyone - runners and fans - and demonstrate what people can accomplish with hard work and dedication. The Boston Marathon heightens this accomplishment due to it's tough qualification standards and rich history.

It is awful - to the point where words can't describe - what happened yesterday. I think it's impossible not to have a pit in your stomach, knowing that people are hurt or did not survive the violence. It will take a long time for things to return to normal. There will probably always be an strange, uncomfortable feeling when I walk down Boylston Street or go into Marathon Sports.

Police outside the Old State House on Tuesday.
Today while walking through Boston on my way to and from work, I saw police with dogs, armed officers and military. It's  strange and uncomfortable feeling that we are not supposed to experience, and I'm not sure if it makes me feel more or less safe.

While families of the victims are forever affected, my hope is that yesterday's events won't take away from the joy that occurs every year on Patriot's Day for the city. The day is supposed to be a celebration for the city and people around the world who come to Boston that weekend. It's filled with excitement, joy and all types of emotions. This will certainly be true moving forward, but sadness and reflection will also be part of those feelings in the future.

When registration for the 2014 Boston Marathon opens this fall I will be signing up right away. With a sense of pride for our city, I will run the 26.2 miles with thousands of other runners and look forward to seeing people line the streets and show their support for the runners, the city and the victims. I'm sure there will be a wide range of emotions for people running and watching the marathon and it will be a powerful demonstration that we will not be made afraid and will not live in fear.

We will cross the finish line safely.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fools Dual Half Marathon Recap

Since I decided not to run the Boston Marathon this year, I was looking for a half marathon right before the race, and laded on the Fools Dual Half Marathon, which took place in Gloucester and Rockport, MA. I hadn't run a race in that area before but it's supposed to be beautiful, so I decided to give it a try.

It was a nice and crisp morning, very good for running. The race was fairly low key, with a little bit more than 500 runners. The race began quite slow - which was a surprise. Usually people sprint at the beginning, but this group didn't make that mistake. The course was an out and back along the northern side of Gloucester and Rockport, with beautiful views of the ocean, inlets and houses lining the streets. It was also really, really hilly. The entire thing was rolling hills. It was up, down, up, down - with no flat surface at all. The wind was also very rough on the way back, but it was still a lot of run to run. I ended up finishing in third place, so during the second half of the run many of the other runners were cheering us on (the benefits of an out and back course).

If I'm not running Boston next year, I'd definitely consider doing it again. But I'd have to make sure I do some hill workouts beforehand.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rave Run: Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, ME

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vacation Racing

There are two races I never got the chance to write about that we ran on vacation. One was in Hawaii and the other was in Italy.

In Hawaii we ran the Rain Forest Runs, which takes place at Volcanos National Park on the Big Island. This is a small town race in all senses. It takes place in the countryside and the course includes what seems to be every side road in the town. After running through the neighborhood where most of the houses are located, it starts gong up a hill, until you reach the end of the road. Then we turn around and head right back to the start. Most of the course is isolated and doesn't have fan support, but that's not a negative. The entire run is through the forest, as it's surrounded by vegetation and is stunningly beautiful Also, the last 4ish miles of the race are downhill and you can get some amazing speed.

After prizes for top finishers after the race aren't medals or trophies, but art, as it's sponsored by the local art center. This was an amazing race and a lot of fun.

In Italy we did the Marathon d' Europa which takes place in Trieste. The city of Trieste of small and on the border of Croatia and Slovenia. It's a point-to-point course that begins outside the city and finishes in the main square. The strange thing about running a race in Europe is hearing all of the race announcements in a different language. But having done enough races, we knew what to do and when to line up. The race itself was very cool. After a couple miles of flat and/or uphill, the last 10 miles are almost all downhill and make for a fast course. It's all along the mountains next to the ocean and has some beautiful views. The day we ran was quite hot and many people were hugging the side of the road to try and get some shade.

The excitement of the race builds as you get into the city and wraps around almost the entire central square of cobblestone road before crossing the finish line. There are large crowds and the support is impressive. Running a race in a foreign country is truly a unique experience and something we'll remember for a long time.

Overall ranking: 8
Course: 9
T-shirt: 2
Medal: 2

Overall ranking: 8
Course: 9
T-shirt: 4
Medal: 2

Austin Half Marathon Recap

Since February is generally a cold and snowy month in Boston, we decided to head to Austin, TX for a weekend in February and get some sun - and run a half marathon! The Livestrong Austin Half Marathon was taking place and it looked like a fun race.

When we arrived we went to the went to the expo and got our numbers. They had some decent race merchandise but I didn't end up getting anything. We then went for a run along the river, which was amazing. There were so many runners, walkers and bikers, which was really motivational. It was a dirt path that went on either side of the river and the scenery was really nice. We ran about 40 minutes, but then stopped to we'd be ready for the race the next day.

The starting line was at the Texas state capital, which is massive. There were a lot of people at the start but it wasn't overly crowded and we went towards the front. The course itself winds around downtown for the first couple miles, then heads straight south. It goes through some interesting neighborhoods, then turns and goes back towards downtown. Just when you think the race is getting ready to wrap up, you find yourself heading up some steep hills on the outskirts of the downtown area, and then winding around the capital before finishing in front of it.

The weather in Austin was perfect for racing and even through it has a couple big hills, it's a fast course. It's also well organized and the fan support is pretty good throughout the race.

UnitedHealthcare Triple Crown

In 2012 I participated in the UnitedHealthcare Triple Crown, which consisted of three half marathon: the Providence Half Marathon in May, the Jamestown Half Marathon in July and the Newport Half Marathon in October. I had originally singed up for Providence, then learned that the Triple Crown was formed and decided to do the others. I knew nothing about Jamestown (it was a new race), but had heard amazing things about Newport and decided to run it, even though it was a week after the Chicago Marathon.

Providence was pretty much what I'd expected from a small city race. It had a small expo, nice course and here-and-there crowd support. It was well organized and gave a good tour of the city, which was a plus. It actually has a very similar course as the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon.

Jamestown was a fun race, which did a complete loop of the island. It was quite challenging, especially in the second half, as there were several very steep hills. Since there weren't too many runners, I was completely alone during that part (I couldn't see anyone in front or behind me) and spent much of the race just trying to push myself. The crowd support was very, very thin, but it was such a relaxing atmosphere that I ended up getting in a grove and really enjoyed it.

Newport was by far the largest race. After a very crowded and somewhat disorganized start, the running spread out quickly because we immediately ran up a big hill. The race then went through neighborhoods, and about half way through, became really beautiful. We started running by stunning houses and along the ocean. It was a really windy day, so I ended up taking in the scenery rather than focusing on my splits. The race finished along the beach and afterwards, we spent the day in Newport and enjoyed the town.

ING Miami Half Marathon Recap

Since my grandfather lives in Miami, we decided to head down in January for a visit - which timed really nicely with the ING Miami Half Marathon (not a coincidence).

The day before the race we woke up and went for a run along the water. It was pretty and warm, but all concrete and didn't have the beauty that many other cities have. We then went to the expo to grab out numbers, before spending the day with family.

The race starts really early in the morning (6:15am). This is actually a blessing because it was really hot there, and as soon as the sun came up (around mile 4) we could really feel the heat. The race starts and ends near American Airlines Arena, and the course goes over a bridge to Miami Beach, through the area, then back over a different bridge.

The start of the race was horrendous - probably the worst I've ever experienced. I don't know what method they used to line people up, but I was put in the third coral and spent the first two miles pushing past people and running sideways more than forward, to pass people who were already walking or going really slow. After finally making through all of that, I got in a grove and enjoyed the run - which I was treating as a tempo. The fan support was ok and the course was decent, but not anything I was amazed by. The last couple miles go through the city and there's not too much build-up until you turn the corner and see the finish line.

I was glad I did the race, but wouldn't do it again.

Chicago Marathon Recap

I had been planning to run the 2012 Chicago Marathon for well over two years, and in short, it was everything I thought it would be and more.

We flew into Chicago with two of our best friends from college, who were also running the marathon. After arriving on Saturday morning (it would have been better to go a day earlier), we went to the expo and got our numbers. While I used to enjoy marathon expos, the crowds are starting to get to me, so I mainly wanted to get my number, t-shirt, check to see if there's any cool official race merchandise (they were sold out of everything but XL) and get out of there.

Before dinner we headed into Grant Park to do an easy 20-25 minute run. It was cold out, but there were a lot of people running and it was still beautiful in the park and around the lake. The excitement was in the air, especially as we ran by the starting line and saw everything being set up.

When I woke up the next morning I was pumped. The great thing about the Chicago Marathon is that you can stay in the city, roll out of bed an hour before the race, and leave the hotel just 30 minutes before the start. And that's wat we did. 30-35 minutes before the race we left the hotel, walked into the park and checked our bag, then made our way to the starting line. The starting area was huge, which have us space to move around, which was nice to do since it was about 40 degrees. When the race started there was plenty of space as the roads were wide. We then began a 26.2 mile journey through the city of Chicago that had fans cheering every step of the way - which was really awesome. Also, like I and everyone else had been told, the course is completely flat.

I felt really good through most of the race, but around mile 22 my quads got really tired and I ended up doing everything I could to hang on. I ended up finishing the race in 2:59:11, good enough for a 12 second PR!

After the race I quickly put some extra clothing on (it was cold out) and made my way to the massage tent, which was filled with really amazing people ready to help warm us up and relax our muscles. I really want to run this race again and beat my time, probably in 2014.

Eugene Half Marathon Recap

A few weeks after running the Boston Marathon, I went to Eugene, OR with my wife to run the Eugene Half Marathon. When we arrived it had the feel of a running town, and the first thing we did was go on a run along the river, which was filled with awesome paved trails. I think we could have easily gotten lost, but we didn't want to run too much the day before a race.

After picking up our numbers in town, we went to Hayward Field to get a look at the track. The gate was closed and locked, but that didn't stop us from snapping a few pictures at the entrance and checking out the University of Oregon campus.

The next day we walked over to the starting line, which was on the road outside of the stadium. The first half of the race went through the neighborhoods in Eugene and was a combination of flat stretches and rolling hills. There was a lot of crowd support throughout the race, not necessarily in bunches, but it was very consistent. The second half of the race was on the paths along the river, which we had gone on the previous day. But there were so many different paths I don't think we repeated any.

As we made our way back to the stadium I braced myself for the finish - 200 meters on the track at Hayward Field! As I turned onto the track, it felt really soft below my feet and I couldn't help but smile as I made my way to the finish line. Even though I was running a great time, I didn't want to rush the last 200 meters so I could try and take it all in - the crowd in the stands, running in the same place the Olympic Trials would take place just weeks later - it was awesome.

After the race we stretched, joined in on the pancake breakfast, watched the first full marathon finishers and then got a massage.