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!