2019 Boston (GA) mini marathon (Recap)

Boston mini

“How do you know someone ran a marathon?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

(Jimmy Fallon)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide me with adventures and challenges to chase.  The latest challenge came during the Boston (GA) mini marathon (13.1 miles) on 10/26/19.  This race was on my 2019 schedule because I ran it last year and had really good results.  Set my first of many personal records (PR) at the race last year.

Fast forward to this year’s race and there’s not a PR to discuss.  My race time and finish position regressed this year.  Was a bit disappointed with my results because I know I can run faster and have done so multiple times this year on tougher courses.

So, why did I regress during this race?  Great question and I spent a day reflecting on why this race didn’t go as I planned.  Turns out I simply took running fast times for granted.  Not saying I didn’t train and put in the miles to run another good half marathon time.

  • September miles: 44 (includes Philly Rock N Roll Half marathon)
  • October miles: 29 (includes Boston mini marathon)

I did assume my Boston mini marathon race results from 2018 would automatically translate to the 2019 race.  The course was the same, but the weather was significantly different this year–mid-50s in 2018 and mid-70s with high humidity this year.  Also, needed a better hydration plan since the temperatures and humidity were higher than normal for an October morning.

My race mistakes are all easily correctable and I was back in the gym the next morning correcting them.  My physical race prep will still resemble what I’ve been doing but working on the mental aspects, so I never enter a race with assumptions again.  I improved my half marathon times this year by entering every race with a chip on my shoulder—got ahead of myself for this race but the corrections are being made.

Lesson learned—never take a race or finish time for granted.

Boston mini marathon weekend

Boston (GA) is a nice little town 40 miles northeast of Tallahassee (FL).  The people are friendly and have a blast for the entire race weekend. The half marathon is just one of the events they host for the weekend. It’s the kickoff event but most of the weekend action happens once the runners get out of the way.

Vendors setup before the sun comes out to get ready for visitors.  The Boston butt BBQ competition is fierce with BBQ outfits from multiple states vying to win the first-place prize money.  Most of these folks provide samples of their competition level BBQ after the race.  There are other vendors with additional items for purchase (cakes, pies, fish, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.).  Almost has a carnival feel to the day once the race is over.

The parade starts right after the race awards are presented.  I normally hit the road right before the parade kicks off since most intersections are blocked to accommodate the parade route.  Great little town and event if you’re ever in the area.

https://bostonga.com/boston-mini-marathon/

 

Next race

Will venture down to Orlando for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) half marathon on 12/7/19.  I ran my first ever half marathon at the OUC event back in 2013.  Hard to believe but I’ve been chasing people at half marathons for 6 years now.  Never thought I would run another half marathon after the first one but now I’m traveling the country making memories with my friends.  Pretty cool transformation for me as I continue to Walk into the Future.

Looking forward to my training as I prepare for the OUC race.  Also excited to catch up with family and friends while in the Orlando area.  Already got my post-race lunch location picked and can’t wait to eat shrimp and grits! 😊 Plan to visit my favorite reggae spot, Bob Marley’s at City Walk too.  Will be another fun adventure for me!

 OUC Half

“Running won’t solve all your problems.  But then again, neither will housework.”

(Unknown)

How do you bounce back from a set back?  What lessons have you learned when things don’t turn out as planned?  Thanks!

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Running, rocking out, and enjoying Philadelphia

Philly LOVE sign

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

My Walk into the Future continues to expand my running tourist experiences.  Made a trek to the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon in September.  This was race #5 for my 2019 running goals.

The training and additional miles logged over the summer were evident during my race.  I was able to post another personal record (PR) time of 2:07:55 (official time) but was happier with how I felt mentally and physically during the race.  Past races my legs started to hurt at the 8-mile marker and really screamed at me miles 10 through 13.  Fighting the pain and the urge to stop running was always there in previous races but my new training program allowed me to enjoy every mile of the race.  Helped the Philly course was mostly flat until the end.  I never frown at a PR but will evaluate my training process to see where I can find additional speed to get me closer to my goal time of under 2 hours.

Note:  The 2-hour goal does not stop me from enjoying these races.  It’s my way to push myself to improve daily.

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday”.

(Haruki Murakami)

(After race and Rocky statue)

Philadelphia

Selected this race because I’ve never been to Philadelphia.  Also, I have a tree branch (Lauren Apgar) in Philly, and it gave us a chance to catch up.  Again, I take the concept of running tourist seriously so let me know if I should visit your city for a run. 😊

We left the airport and headed straight to the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Rock N Roll EXPO.  Seeing the thousands of running tourists who trek to a Rock N Roll destination to run the city and enjoy the culture is always a highlight of race weekend.

The positive energy in the EXPO hall always provides extra inspiration to run my best race.  People from all over the world converging on a location with the same goal in mind to run their best race ever.

The Philly EXPO was smaller than previous EXPOs (New Orleans and Nashville) because there was not a full marathon scheduled.  The Philly races were the half marathon, a 7.6k and a 5k.

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll EXPO, so it was great introducing her to the process (check-in, bib pickup, bag pickup, etc.) and attending the EXPO with vendors and products.  We got as many freebies as we could and tested out products on display.  This is a great way to get a free massage before the race since vendors want to test their products on runners.  I’m always down for the free massage!  Got a lot of cool photo ops while at the EXPO:

Food, food and more food

We left the convention center and made our way to Iron Hill Brewery (Center City) for lunch to help with my carb loading process.  Great location with a huge menu and beer options.  I don’t experiment with food prior to a race so ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, fries and the Iron Hill Light Lager.  Lots of great food on the menu if you get a chance to dine at one of their locations:

What’s a trip to Philly without visiting the Reading Terminal Market?  It’s labeled as “one of America’s largest and oldest public markets” and lived up to the reputation.  Row after row of unique foods, fare and products.  Several vendors had wrap around lines waiting to explore new tastes.  We didn’t eat at Reading Terminal Market, but it will be a regular stop when I’m back in Philly:

Dinner carb loading was done at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.  Stuck with the tried and true chicken parmesan because it came with a huge plate of spaghetti and sauce.  Portions were so large at Pietro’s I almost couldn’t finish it all but since I had 13.1 miles to run the next morning, I powered through.

Pietros Pizza

We ventured further out after the race to get cheese steaks.  Lauren introduced me to the Philly subway system and the proper way to get around the city.  We got an impromptu dance show from a family entertaining everyone on the subway.  Great seeing people smile and enjoy themselves as they traveled to their respective destinations.  Full disclosure, I assumed Philly was going to be all hustle and bustle like New York.  Pleasantly surprised how slow the pace was in Philly and how people interacted with each other.

Cheese steaks on every corner

We decided to take part in the great Philly cheese steak debate:  Geno’s or Pat’s.  Agreed we would do a taste test to decide which cheese steak was better.

Started at Geno’s and dived right into a large cheese steak.  Very good flavor, texture and presentation.  Made our way across the street to try Pat’s cheese steak next.  Again, very good flavor, texture and presentation.  The onions on the Pat’s cheese steak were sautéed more and the steak had more moisture than Geno’s.  We agreed both were worth a visit if you’re in Philly—can’t go wrong with either selection.

Seating is limited at Geno’s and Pat’s, so we grabbed seats at Garage Philly and enjoyed the cheese steaks, beer and people watching.  They have a DJ playing on the sidewalk, so it was a block party and a great place to relax with good food:

History

Made our way over to Independence Hall to experience some American history. Got a chance to explore multiple buildings on the property to include Congress Hall and Senate Chambers.  The Liberty Bell was another historical site we were able to experience.  Great being in a place with this much historical contexts—recommend visiting if you’re in the Philadelphia area.

Trekked over to Penn’s Landing to see the waterway and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Great place to people watch and get photos of New Jersey across the river.  Lots of boats in the water and people enjoying the great September weather.

Philadelphia is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food, history and culture available.

FYI—enjoyed it so much I’ve already signed up for the 2020 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon!  Will get a chance to test out the Pat’s and Geno’s cheese steak debate again.  Can’t wait!

What city have you always wanted to visit?  When are you going?

 “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

(Helen Keller)

Thanks Lauren for being a great host and tour guide—well done! 😊

Running to Philly

person wearing grey nike sneakers
Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days”.

(Ronald Rook)

Decided early to make my Walk into the Future about setting goals and then putting in the work to meet those goals.  Very proud of my efforts so far in 2019 as I continue to cross things off my list daily.  One of my ongoing 2019 goals is to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  I’ve improved my best time twice this year for a total of 5 minutes faster than I ran in 2018.  My best time of 2:08:21 (2 hours, 8 minutes, 21 seconds) was run at the 2019 Nashville Rock n Roll Half Marathon back in April.  Very proud of this time and training used to get ready for Nashville.  Again, my 2019 goal is to run under two hours, so still have work to do.

Miles, miles and more miles

Determined the best way to run faster was to increase my training program with additional miles.  I had to put some thought into how this would happen considering I would be running during the summer in Florida.  The heat and humidity can be unbearable just walking around so running would be an additional challenge.  Set my running schedule to avoid the hottest times during the day—early morning runs allowed me to get out and back before the full heat and humidity of the day kicked in.  Weekend runs started a bit earlier since I leveraged this time for my long runs.  Learned quickly getting out and back before 9:30 am was ideal—anything past 9:30 am and the heat beats you up.

Logged 50+ miles in June using this training method.  June also provided me with the blueprint on times to run, times to avoid and how to hydrate properly to pull this process off successfully.  Increased my training miles in July to 70+ by running two weekday runs of 5 – 6 miles each and then having a long run of 8 – 10 miles on the weekends.  Also, started carrying a hydration belt with Gatorade and water so I could replenish fluids while out for my run.  Hydration belts are not the coolest looking accessory, but it is very functional when you need something to drink miles away from water.

I extended my training program and physical capabilities in August with a 100+ mile month.  My two weekday runs were extended up to 8 miles each and my weekend runs extended up to 11 – 12 miles.  My longest August training run was 12.65 miles.  Long runs were done to get the miles in, didn’t try to hit race pace since I wanted to build up my running base without trying to hit a specific time.  Ironically, my long run times were still better than some half marathons I ran a few years ago.  Looks like I’m getting faster just by adding long runs to my training program.

Note:  I still made it to the gym for my normal workouts and extra cardio.  Running was the priority for run days, but I didn’t eliminate weight training, yoga or stretching sessions.

Run Day view

September is my taper month as I refresh my legs for the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon on 9/15/19.  I logged 20 running miles in September to complete my training program prior to heading off to Philly.  This allowed me to mentally and physically get ready to run my best in Philly.

The best part of being this close to a race is I get to carb load—all the pasta and bread I want! 😊  This will help my energy levels during the race and keep me moving fast.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrate-loading/art-20048518

Cross Training View2

(Leg day on the Pit Shark)

Lessons learned

Mixed in hills, intervals and long runs into my training program prior to Philly.  Felt I needed to incorporate more hills and intervals after my Nashville race.  Believe these added programs will give me the endurance, speed and mental toughness needed to get under two hours in Philly.  We will see!  If not, the next race is 10/26/19 in Boston, Georgia.

You can follow my Philly progress using the Rock N Roll app:

https://rtrt.me/app/rnra

Off to Philly and looking forward to my cheese steaks after the race and sightseeing in a new city!

How are you doing with your 2019 goals?  What adjustments are needed to ensure you meet your written goals?  Thanks!

 “A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself”.

(Deena Kastor)

The Big Harvest—Collecting Race Bling

 ‘Any idiot can run, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run a half marathon.’

(Spectator sign, Nashville 2019)

The process of running a half marathon has many layers.  You have the training, nutrition, travel to the race site, EXPO and the actual race.  Sounds like a lot but each layer gets easier the more you invest into the process of being a runner.

Took me a while to get comfortable with the concept of labeling myself a runner but finally stopped fighting the term and gladly accept it.  Hi, my name is Calvin and I’m a runner! 😊  Felt good getting that off my chest.  The quote above is from a spectator’s sign I saw while running the 2019 Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon.  There are thousands of similar and funnier signs at every race.  The spectators are there to cheer, motivate and at times make runners laugh to help get through their respective race.  I make a point to acknowledge sign holders especially when they display a clever sign.  Another of my favorites:

‘Worse parade…EVER!’

The signs and spectators are welcome distractions from the actual process of completing a 13.1-mile race.  Music helps break up the miles, but the spectators always make me laugh with their encouragement and clever signage.

‘You know you’re a runner when…bling has nothing to do with jewelry.’

(Runners World)

An overlooked layer to the half marathon is what happens directly after crossing the finish line.  A legion of volunteers waits for each runner to cross the finish line and present us with city/race unique bling.  I never thought race medals would mean much to me but getting crowned after finishing a half marathon completes the journey.  I would feel I accomplished something big without the bling but let’s be honest—what’s the fun in that?! 😊

I always write about races and my training routine to get prepared.  The race city and entertainment options are other favorite things I have written about.  Decided to invest in a medal holder for the bling I’ve collected over the years to properly display my ‘adult trophies’.  Didn’t realize how many medals or how cool some of them are prior to researching the medal holder.  I didn’t have much of an organizational system for them either.  This will all change since I put in the work to earn the bling—will get these properly displayed on a medal holder where everyone can see them and then must listen to me explain each one—just joking!

Seriously, runners put in a lot of work to get ready for the races and perform their best.  The bling is a nice reminder of the race and city.  The bling is something we cherish and look forward to seeing what next year’s bling will look like.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series has a Heavy Medal program that allows runners to collect additional bling based on number of events:

https://www.runrocknroll.com/Programs/Medals/Heavy-Medals

Of course, I’m trying to get the Don’t Worry Just Run medal.  I’m sure you can figure out why! Everything Irie!

Had an interesting conversation with a tree branch last month about race bling.  He selects race participation strictly on the bling available for the race.  Bling not up to par and he will not run in your race!  I’m not there yet, if there’s beer at the end I’m probably going to run your race! 😊

How do you display your race bling?  How important is this aspect of the race for you?  Thanks!

On the good foot: The Brooks take over

‘I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.’

(Ronald Rook)

My current Walk into the Future has allowed me to grow in many areas.  One of those areas is my constant pursuit to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  I discovered the only way to meet the goal was to actual put in the work to get there.  I’ve documented my past training program consisted of the occasional 7 mile run before tackling the challenge of running a half marathon.  I was finishing the races but didn’t have the extra kick needed to really approach my running goal.

The new running plan now has me doing the following:

  • Tuesday: 5-mile run (or longer)
  • Thursday: 7-mile run (or longer)
  • Saturday: 10 to 15-mile run
    • Note: All adjusted based on weather or my schedule
    • Leverage the treadmill for speed work

This increased mileage has been good to condition my mind and body.  The mental and physical toughness generated was very evident in my last half marathon in Nashville.  Building muscle memory to continue to move forward even when it hurts is an outcome from the increased running workload.

Decided to utilize a local running specialty store, Fleet Feet to have my feet and gait analyzed to see if I could gain an advantage with my training.  Please note, I recommend everyone get a foot and gait analysis done before tackling the miles needed to complete a half marathon.

My foot analysis identified three issues I had but didn’t know about.  The first issue discovered is my feet are not flat, I have a low arch, but it still exists.  Was told years ago by a doctor I needed inserts because I had flat feet.  The second issue was my right foot is longer than my left.  The third issue was I always bought running shoes base on my ‘true’ shoe size.

The Fleet Feet staff recommended with the miles and races I participate in, I should buy running shoes a full size longer than my normal foot size.  The larger shoe allows my feet to breath better and provides a platform in case my feet swell while chasing additional miles.  The larger shoe also eliminated the discomfort I felt since one foot is longer than the other.

Armed with this new intel, I had the Fleet Feet staff recommend shoes to fit my unique feet (no pun intended).  They provided me with 3 in-store options to try and get a comfortable feel for.  Each shoe provided a different level of technology (arch support, roll bars, cushioning, etc.).  Decided to conduct my own research on each shoe they showed me but came away impressed with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 model.  I switched from my normal ASICS GT-2000 shoes to the Brooks shoes two weeks prior to the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll 2019 half marathon.  This gave me enough time to get 30 miles of training in the new shoe—never race in brand new shoes.

Happy to say the Brooks running shoes performed very well for me in Nashville and training leading up to the race.  The support the new shoes provide eliminated foot discomfort, leg fatigue and joint issues.

Grateful to the Fleet Feet staff for helping me understand more about my feet and the need to ensure my equipment matches my needs.  I love the ASICS brand but was more than willing to replace them to keep my feet happy and moving forward.  Excited to see the future race results in my new Brooks—more miles to come!

Join me at the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in September to see how my new Brooks are performing!

‘Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, others head to the corner pub, but I chose running as my therapy.’

(Dean Karnazes)

Brooks

Running Traveler

traveler 2019

2018 allowed me to develop a robust running program as part of my Walk into the Future.  I set an aggressive (for me) goal to increase the number of Half Marathons I would run in 2018.  This newfound aggressive scheduling allowed me to travel to multiple locations and experience 13.1-mile courses in fun and culturally significant places.

Running a race allows you to experience a location in a more intimate manner than simply driving around.  Running provides opportunities to fully engage the city since you don’t have to worry about cars, traffic or obeying signs.  The course gives you the freedom to look around, admire architecture or even stop to take a picture of landmarks.  My goal is to run as fast as possible, but 13.1 miles provides a lot of sightseeing time.

New Orleans, LA. (March 2018)

My first 2018 race was the Humana Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.  I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, but this was my first time running a race in the city.  Running friends identified this as a fun race and a fast course since New Orleans is relatively flat.  The race and the course really lived up to the prerace hype.  Everything about New Orleans is festive and the course sponsors, volunteers and cheering crowd made sure all runners enjoyed their time in New Orleans.  New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras and having a good time.  A lot of runners use this race as an extended opportunity to get dressed up in costume.  You see all sorts of outfits for this race and beads are everywhere.

The race starts downtown and winds throughout the city.  We spent a lot of time on tree lined St. Charles Avenue.  Residents, business owners, spectators and brass bands lined the street to cheer runners.  There are a few ‘beer stands’ available even though it’s 7:30 am—of course you have to get a beer in New Orleans.  The rest of the race winds through the Garden District, the French Quarter and finishes at the Fairgrounds.  The race after party is held at the Fairgrounds with music, food, beer, snacks and hanging out with runners from around the world.

New Orleans is a great city and I’m happy to have experienced it as a runner.  Got to see the city from different angles and have a deeper appreciation for the culture there.

Recommend visiting River Walk New Orleans (shopping), Mulate’s (Cajun Restaurant) and Bourbon Street (music) while in New Orleans.

Nashville, TN. (April 2018)

Nashville is one of my favorite places to visit because I love live music and some of the best music is generated there.  The St. Jude Rock ‘N’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon is one of the largest races in the series.  The Nashville entertainment draws a lot of runners from around the world to ‘Nash Vegas’.  The food, music and shopping in Nashville provides a convenient backdrop for runners to meet up and enjoy the city.

A real treat for runners during this race is a different musical act EVERY mile.  Most of the acts are local talent (singers, musicians, bands) who are all very good.  The course starts downtown Nashville and winds through college campuses and residential neighborhoods before ending at Nissan Stadium.  A unique feature happens right at mile marker #6.

Mile marker #6 is the entrance to the Westgrove neighborhood.  The unique and special feature of this part of the running course is the people who live in the neighborhood provide the entertainment to include sound stage, costumes and refreshments.  The entire neighborhood gets involved during the race and they have FUN.  My first encounter with this neighborhood came in my first Nashville Half Marathon in 2017.  I stopped running to soak in the entertainment and the energy from the people there.  Truly amazing experience to see so many people want to help entertain and energize runners.  This is my favorite spot on the Nashville course every time I run there.  I didn’t stop in 2018 since I’m use to the experience now.

Running in downtown Nashville is a true treat!  The history, entertainment and music venues there make for a unique visual experience.  I always discover new things to view every time I run the city.

Recommend visiting the Wild Horse Saloon (food, live music, line dancing), Crazy Town (live music), Tequila Cowboy (live music, food, cold beer), Jack’s BBQ, Opryland USA and The Hermitage (Museum).  There’s a lot more there, Nashville is a great place to Walk into the Future.

Boston, GA. (October 2018)

The Boston Mini-Marathon is a local race the town of Boston, Georgia uses to invite people to visit over the weekend.  Festivities include the Mini-Marathon (Half), Parade, Ms. Boston pageant, a Boston Butt BBQ competition and local vendors.

This race had the smallest number of runners for my 4 races but was the friendliest place I’ve ever run.  Everyone in town seemed to enjoy the event and the runners who descended on their town.  The course was very flat and with the cool October weather provided an opportunity to run fast.  I signed up for this one as a ‘training’ run but ran my fastest half marathon ever.  Believe the cool weather and flat course were instrumental to my fast (for me) time.

boston mini

Amelia Island, FL. (December 2018)

Decided to take a flyer and run the Reindeer Half Marathon on Amelia Island.  I had never been to Amelia Island and thought this would be a great way to see the beach and downtown areas.  The course was described as flat and fast and it lived up to the billing.  The run starts and ends right on the beach.  In between it winds through nature preserves, neighborhoods, downtown and the Fort Clinch state park.  Unfortunately, the weekend weather was not great, so I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted.  I spent a lot of time at SLIDERS which has a great menu and ice-cold beers. Was able to venture out on the beach the day after the race before the rain started again.  Will look to make it back to Amelia Island to get a better feel for the area.

2019

Looking to add a few additional cities to my Running Traveler program.  Will run the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in September—never been to Philly.  Also looking at running the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon again in December after taking a year away from this race.  May add a few others to round out my running schedule for 2019.

Currently committed to run:

  • Gulf Winds Track Club 15k (January)
  • New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (February)
  • Winter Park 10k (March)
  • Nashville Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (April)
  • Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (September)

Looking forward to catching up with friends and drinking beer at all these races!  See YA’LL soon!