Game On Half Marathon (Fort Pierce)

Game On

“There will be days you don’t think you can run a marathon.  There will be a lifetime of knowing you have”.

(Unknown)

My Walk into the Future continues to move forward towards the Palm Beaches Garden of Life Marathon in December.

The 18-week training plan I’m using allows me some flexibility, but the one constant is a progressive long run on the weekends.  I am leveraging local races to energize my long runs and tackled the Game On Half Marathon in Fort Pierce in October.  This seemed like a nice local race, and I signed up for this half prior to committing to run a marathon.  Luckily, this race and distance fit right into what I needed to keep moving towards the marathon start line.

The Game On Half Marathon is fairly new on the circuit—last year’s race was the first running.  I did not know about this race prior to this year but may keep it on my regular rotation since there are not travel costs associated with a race in the town I live.

This was a smaller race with the projected number of runners less than 300.  I normally avoid smaller races since they do not have the crowd support like the Rock N Roll running series.  It may seem simple but having a crowd of stranger cheering for you helps when the miles start to get tough.  Also, the larger races have a ton of volunteers to man the water/Gatorade stations.  I was pleasantly surprised this race had fuel stops at 1.5-mile intervals and this really helps with the process of completing a half marathon.

Again, smaller race so there was not an EXPO experience.  Race bib pickup was scheduled the day before the race at Causeway Cove Marina.  The process was simple, give them your name and they hand you a bib, t-shirt and four safety pins to attach the bib.  That’s it—no vendors to visit or anything to buy.  I got a quick picture in front of the Game On promotional truck with my bib and went about the rest of my day. 

I started my carb loading process earlier in the week and went to get some more pasta to continue to ingest carbs.  Also wanted to get off my feet to ensure I was ready to toe the line in the morning—I find it harder to just kick back when I’m competing in a hometown race.  Feels like I should do normal, daily activities but this can lead to tired legs on race day.

Made a point to get to bed early so I could get up and make it to the start line with plenty of time to warmup.  This race started at 6:15 am to get and stay ahead of the South Florida heat—yes, it’s still hot and humid down here in October.

Got to Causeway Cove Marina in plenty time to park, stretch and warmup prior to the race start.  Made my way through the darkness towards the start line and got in the corral with the other half marathon runners.  The race organizers did not have runners line up based on projected pace time—no big deal for this race since it was only about 150 runners for the half marathon.  There was also a 10k being run with those runners starting 10 minutes after the half marathoners got started.

I did not have a projected pace or finish time in mind since this was part of my long run.  I just wanted/needed to get miles in and the pace for this day was not as important as it normally is when I run a half marathon.  My goal was to start, finish and enjoy the race as much as possible.

This was an out and back race so wanted to enjoy the course and have fun.  We started in complete darkness so decided to leverage other runners as pacers and to ensure we did not go off course.  The half marathon organizers mapped out the course to be completed on Seaway and Ocean Drives on Hutchinson Island, which is completely flat, no bridges to cross which was a welcomed addition.

I started with a comfortable pace and did not push myself hard in the beginning.  Paced with a couple runners for the first three miles and then decided to pick up the pace a bit.  We turned onto Ocean Drive and headed south towards Jensen Beach.  Interesting thing happened at the 4-mile marker.  Another runner pulled up next to me and began a full conversation on life, hobbies, and the type of work we both do.  I have talked with other runners during races, but it is normally just small talk before we get down to the real racing.  Found out this was her 5th half marathon and she had friends running but she wanted to go faster so decided to tag along with me.

We had a nice conversation going for the next 4 miles before she decided to pull back since my pace was pretty good at this point.  The great thing about running and talking with her is it created a nice distraction from the race.  I focused more on the conversation than my pace so can’t tell you how fast I was running at this point, I was just putting one foot in front of the other.

Leveraged Miles 8 – 13.1 to test my endurance levels to determine adjustments I need to make to my training and nutrition program.  I felt good physically but need to ensure my carb loading process is improved.  I also need to map out my fueling process (time, distance) to keep moving forward with pace during races.  My lactic acid threshold is getting better but need to work on my glycogen levels consistently. 

Finished in 2:23:41 (10:58 per minute pace) which is not fast for me, but I still took third place in my age group.  I’ll take it considering this was part of my weekend training run.  Got an additional 5 miles in after the half marathon for a total of 18 for the day.

Still have work to do as I prep for December but happy with my progress so far.

What challenges are you facing right now?

Irie!

“A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you have done it, you feel that you can do anything”.

(Unknown)

Run to Stop Hunger 5k

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy”.

(Mark Will-Weber)

My Walk into the Future allows me to mix and match my adventures depending on what I am trying to get accomplished.

I always love the running tourist part of my journey since I get to explore and stay in shape by training.  My big running goal for 2022 is to run and complete my first full marathon in December.  My training program is going well as I am averaging 30+ weekly miles to prepare for the task of running 26.2 miles in Palm Beach.  The 18-week training program allows me some flexibility but a standard in the program is the long run concept each weekend.  The miles increase incrementally each week and I have been dedicated to ensuring I get up on Saturdays to do my part to ensure I am ready for the full marathon.

Decided to sign-up for local 5ks to improve my speed and warm up prior to going out for my long runs.  The 5k (3.1 miles) distance provides a great opportunity to get out and test my fitness levels, gauge my speed, and have fun. 

Signed up for the Run to Stop Hunger 5k in Fort Pierce in September.  This was a hometown race, so the running tourist did not get a chance to explore new locales, but I did get to see Fort Pierce in a different context. 

The race start and finish line was located within Causeway Cove which sits directly on the Indian River in Fort Pierce.  I run by this location weekly but never ventured onto the site to explore everything that is located there.  I see the signs for jet ski rentals when running and always think about going in to rent a jet ski but have not made that happen to date.  Interesting spot with a lot of different activities hosted there:  RV park, drive-in movies on Saturday nights, concerts, food festivals, etc.

Needed to complete 14 total miles so decided to park closer to downtown Fort Pierce and run across the Seaway Drive bridge as a warmup before the 5k.  My goal was to get a 1-mile prerace run in to loosen my legs and give me a springboard to get up to speed during the 5k.  Made my way across the Seaway Drive bridge at a comfortable pace and arrived in Causeway Cove warmed up and ready to go.

I did not set a time goal for this 5k but wanted to go out faster than I did for the Celebration of Running 5k back in August.  We did not have as many runners for this race so there was not as much traffic to navigate on the course.  The course was completely flat, and we did not have to cross traffic at all.

It was an out and back race format with the turnaround at the 1.5-mile marker.  It was cool getting a chance to see the leaders heading back towards the finish line—got a chance to gauge how close or far I was from the race leader. 😊

My first mile was run in 8:40 and I felt comfortable with this pace.  Smiled when I looked at my watch and saw my first mile was well under a 9-minute pace.  The Florida humidity was thick as always, but this did not keep me from maintaining this pace throughout the race—my goal was to get some speed work in so no need to back off at this point.

I locked in on a couple runners to help pace me the rest of the way after crossing the race midpoint.  I felt the humidity a bit more in the second part of the race but had my music cranking (TI’s Motivation, again) and kept running hard.

Crossed the finish line at 26:43 for a pace of 8:35. This was my fastest 5k since March 2020 so extremely happy with the results.  This time allowed me to finish second in my age group and collect a medal and age group award.  Got a chance to talk with some local runners while waiting for the awards ceremony—we are a friendly bunch of people.

Still needed to get in additional miles so left Causeway Cove and ran back over the Seaway Drive bridge to my vehicle.  Got my additional 9 miles completed on Ocean Drive for a total of 14 for the day. 

Happy with my results and how my legs feel during this preparation phase of training.  Will leverage speed work more as I get closer to my marathon date.

Happy running folks!

Irie!

“As we run, we become”.

(Amby Burfoot)

2022 Rock N Roll Atlantic City

AC EXPO4

“Don’t dream of winning, train for it”.

(Mo Farrah)

The 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon has been in focus for me for the entire year.  I targeted this race since I have never run there before, and the course was described as completely flat.  I wanted to visit the famed boardwalk and see how my training translated to the course.

Another exciting aspect of running this race was the opportunity to see my tree branch, Lauren Apgar again.  Lauren has been a tree branch since our time in the Florida State University’s Career Center.  We were able to connect during the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I have not seen her since due to COVID-19.  Atlantic City provided an opportunity for us to reconnect and for me to finally meet Reese, her boyfriend.

I signed up for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon back in June 2021 so had this destination on the running tourist calendar for a while. 

I normally fly on Southwest Airlines, but they do not have flights directly into Atlantic City.  Flying Southwest Airlines required me to fly into Philadelphia and then drive an hour plus over to Atlantic City.   Took a chance and viewed flight options on Expedia and discovered direct flights on Spirit Airlines to Atlantic City from Orlando.  The price point for the roundtrip flight was less than a one-way ticket to Philly on Southwest Airlines so Spirit became my airline of choice for this trip.  I did not know much about Spirit, but the experience was great for me start to finish.

I flew into Atlantic City on Friday with designs to get use to the area and catch up with Lauren prior to the race on Sunday.  My hotel was in Egg Harbor Township which is only 8 miles away from the famed Atlantic City board walk and race start line.  Note: I will stay much closer in 2023.

Met Lauren and Reese at Chickie’s and Pete’s which is a local sports bar in the area.  Lauren picked this location for us to help with the carb loading process and catch up for missed time.  It was great to sit with her and talk about family, friends, and professional growth.  The three of us were able to enjoy some good food, beer, and the reunion.

AC Lauren Reese

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll race experience so wanted to make sure she got the most out of the experience.  We agreed to meet at the Atlantic City Convention Center for the EXPO the next morning.  I was surprised to see outlet stores downtown as I drove into the heart of the city.  I knew there would be casinos, but the outlet stores put a smile on my face since I love shopping outlets.

Lauren, Reese, and I entered the EXPO to check in for the race and visit with the vendors.  We were able to navigate the check-in process and make our way to the vendors to check out new equipment, gadgets, and nutritional products.

The first vendor we encountered provided free sessions using the NORMATEK leg compression sleeves.  We were able to plug in and enjoy the technology to increase blood flow and relax before race day.  The 20-minute session was a highlight of the EXPO—I will have to research these sleeves more and invest in a set soon since my running program is ramping up for the Fall 2022 race season.

AC EXPO1

We made our way through the EXPO, and I got additional CEP leg compression sleeves.  Decided this new color pattern would be a good addition to my collection. 

A new feature for this EXPO was gaming tables that were setup to allow participants to try blackjack, roulette, and craps games.  Race participants received a $100 coupon to play during the EXPO and we made our way to the roulette table.  My favorite number is 15 so played that continually while at the roulette table.  I was able to hit 15 once which pays 36 to 1 odds.  I was excited to add chips to my growing stack.  A few others won as well, and this is where it got interesting.  We all assumed we were playing for prizes (water bottle, towel, etc.) but the dealer let us know we were just playing for fun.  Most of us went all in with our chips after discovering we were playing just to say we were playing—no money, no prizes, and no glory.  😊

Left the roulette table and got some energy gels before heading out for lunch.

Got the customary EXPO shots most of you expect:

AC EXPO2

Made our way to Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar for lunch.  This restaurant was conveniently across the street from the Convention Center.  They have a very nice menu but settled on wings, fries, and beer to continue the carb loading process.  Hit the Nike and Gap outlet stores after lunch to pick up some sales before heading back to the hotel for a quick nap.

Had a pasta dinner at Jerry Longo’s which is inside Bally’s casino.  Headed back to the hotel to rest up for the big race.

The forecast called for rain and fog most of the weekend and it was spot on.  Woke up on race day to thick fog which equals a certain level of humidity.  The temperature was in the mid-50s when I woke up, but the fog made it feels a bit warmer—not Florida warm but not exactly what I envisioned for New Jersey in April.

I was able to park and catch the shuttle bus to the start line with minimal issues and met Lauren at the start line prior.  Lauren told me on Friday she planned to run with me, and we began to work on our race strategy.  I told her my normal routine of running water stop to water stop and to take on fuel throughout the race.  This also helps mentally break the half marathon distance into chunks instead of viewing it as one long race.

My plan was to run a smart tactical race and get us to the finish line while enjoying the process of racing.  Mission accomplished!

Lauren and I ran the entire race together.  I am extremely proud of her effort and perseverance during the race.  She was able to set a Personal Record (PR) and took two full minutes off her best time.  We crossed the finish line together, but she officially beat me by three seconds based on official times—congrats my friend!

Our race splits are below:

Mile 1:  9:28 / Mile 2: 9:35 / Mile 3: 9:26 / Mile 4: 9:52 / Mile 5: 9:32 / Mile 6: 10:29 / Mile 7: 10:10 / Mile 8:  9:53 / Mile 9: 11:14 / Mile 10: 10:59 / Mile 11: 10:48 / Mile 12: 11:33 / Mile 13: 10:38 / Mile 14: 1:56

We celebrated with pictures, beer, and breakfast on the board walk! This was a great course, EXPO, and race experience—so good, I have already signed up for the 2023 race.

I plan to stay closer to the boardwalk next year so I can enjoy the entertainment and shopping more.  Looks like Lauren will be coming back as well so we can get her another PR! 😊

Well done, Lauren!

Irie!

“The man who moves mountains begins by carrying small stones”.

(Confucius)

2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Nash Expo2

“A half marathon is just a 5k with a 10-mile warmup”.

(Pinterest)

My Walk into the Future led me back to Nashville for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I have run this race 4 times prior but did not get a chance to run in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19.

My original race registration from 2020 rolled over twice to this year and I was thrilled to return to one of my favorite cities to run, explore and enjoy live music again.

Nashville did not disappoint!

The weather was projected to be hot this year and it was.  Nashville normally is still cool in April but this year the high on race day was 85 degrees which is 20 degrees higher than normal.  This impacts all runners, so the race organizers sent out messaging for runners to take extra precautions (dress with light clothing, drink plenty water, consider slowing the pace, etc.).  The weather was like the 2017 race and most runners felt the difference with the heat and the hilly course that Nashville is famous for.

I did not enter this race with a projected finish time in mind due to the weather and the hills.  I have run one of my fastest half marathons on this course in 2019 when the weather was much cooler–the weather was not favorable for this year.  Training on the hills in Tallahassee helped as well. 😊

Decided to capture my time in Nashville with pictures instead of giving you a complete recap of the race—most of my readers are used to a full recap.

Here is the cliff notes version for the race:  I ran 13.2 miles, there were hills, it was hot, I earned a medal, and they gave me beer at the end.  Yep, it was worth every second.

EXPO

Nash Expo1

(Got my race bib and packet)

(Scenes from the EXPO at Music Center)

Wild Horse Saloon

(Time at the Wild Horse Saloon / Line Dancing)

Race Day

Nash Race day4

(New compression sleeves for the 2022 Nashville Half Marathon)

Nash Race day5

(2022 Nashville Half Marathon start line)

(Scenes before the start of the race, downtown Nashville)

Broadway

(Rooftop bars on Broadway)

After race

(Ice for my legs after running the Nashville hills)

Saturday

(Venues = Luke Bryan’s, Whiskey Row, The Stage, Tequila Cowboy, Lucky Bastard)

Sunday

(Last day in Nashville! Broadway, Union Station Hotel, The Stage (again), Wild Horse Saloon (again), Lucky Bastard and The Parthenon)

Two new restaurants I recommend on the West End of Nashville are the Midtown Café and The Row Kitchen and Pub.  The Midtown Café is a great place to get a hearty breakfast.  The Row Kitchen and Pub has a large menu but recommend getting the catfish dinner if you are ever in Nashville—it is worth the wait!

https://www.midtowncafe.com/

https://www.therownashville.com/menus/#dinner

The weather and hills did not stop me from enjoying my time in Nashville.  I am already planning my return next year for the 2023 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon—I registered for the event as soon as I returned home.  😊

Who is joining me in Nashville?

Irie!

“Congratulations on finishing your half marathon!  Good luck walking tomorrow!

(Pinterest)

2022 Florida Half Marathon

“Please ignore the faces I make while running”.

(Anonymous)

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Diabolical:  Outrageously wicked (Dictionary.com).

Never thought I would describe a race as diabolical but that’s what I am going to do.  I know there are other meanings for diabolical, but I will stick with outrageously wicked.

The Florida Marathon/Half Marathon is a fine race that is put on by a fantastic run organization.  My use of the word diabolical is more to describe the course and how the runners must finish both races.

Yes, this was a half marathon, so I was ready to put in my 13.1 miles of work in for the day.  I was happy with my 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon results in January and wanted to translate that effort into the 2022 Florida Half Marathon in Melbourne.

Let’s jump ahead a bit—there was no translation from the Vero Beach race to the Melbourne race.  Happy with my effort but did not get close to matching or exceeding my January race time during this race.  More on that later. 😊

Signed up for this race to ensure I run monthly half marathons January through May.  Wanted to test myself by adding more races to my schedule in 2022 and building a run base that will allow me to get faster with each race—in theory

Melbourne is one of my favorite places to visit because of the great beaches and laid-back vibe of the people.  This race provides the best of my worlds—beaches and running.  This was my first race in Melbourne, so I was excited to run the city as a running tourist

Drove up on Saturday morning since this race had a Sunday morning start.  I wanted to get in town early enough to pick up my race packet and continue to carb load throughout the day.  My ultimate motive was to get into town early enough so I could go sit on the beach at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a bit.  I always maximize beach time when I can. 😊

The EXPO was held in the Front Street Park Civic Center.  This sounds like a huge place, but it is the size of a regular house, and it is right on the river side in downtown Melbourne.  Parking was quick and easy, so made my way into the Civic Center to get my race packet and see what the vendors had to offer.

There were only a handful of runners in the Civic Center when I arrived so went right to the front of the line to get my race bib (#715) and packet.  Grabbed a fellow runner to take my picture in front of the step and repeat race display which is a tradition for me.  Walked around a bit to see the vendors but did not buy anything while at the EXPO.

Went outside and took a few pictures along the river and got a great shot of one of the bridges we would have to cross during the race.  The bridge incline should have been a precursor of what was to come.

Left the Civic Center and checked into my hotel.  Wanted to drop off my bags and get a good feel for how close the hotel was to the race start line.  Made my way to the Crowne Plaza to get lunch and continue my carb loading process.  The weather was great on Saturday and provided a perfect backdrop to relax on the beach and listen to the band playing on the deck.  Enjoyed a turkey club sandwich, fries, and Bud Light at the Crowne Plaza.  They have an extensive menu, but I stay conservative the day before a race to eliminate potential stomach issues during the race—lesson learned from a past race.  Sat on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the views before heading out.

Left the Crowne Plaza and made my way to Patrick Space Force Base (PSFB) for a quick shopping trip.  Wanted to see if they had the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s to replace my GTS 21s.  They had the 22s but not in my size so walked around and looked at stuff I didn’t need—never a wasted trip since I get to spend time around military people again—love being back on-base.

Made my way to the Olive Garden to finish my carb loading for the day and get to bed early.  The restaurant was crowded so made my way to the bar and found a seat there.  I am basic when carb loading so went with the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, lots of bread sticks and Bud Light.  Relaxed back at the hotel before an early bedtime so I could get my rest and get up early to tackle the half marathon.

Remember the term diabolical from earlier?  Well, let jump into that a bit more now. 😊

Woke up at 4:45 am to prepare my mind and body for the 13.1 miles I needed to cover at 6:30 am.  I do some stretching and mental preparation during this timeframe before putting on my equipment (KT tape, Salonpas patches and BioFreeze) and getting dressed.  My run outfit was conservative for me so got dressed after putting on my layers of equipment.

Luckily, I grabbed one of my running jackets before leaving the hotel because it was already raining.  The weather forecast ‘mentioned’ rain the day before, but this was just a steady flow, and it was not cold.  I thought the rain would be around for a little bit but was wrong on my forecasting skills.

Made my way downtown towards the race starting point and arrive about 10 minutes after leaving the hotel.  Researched places to park the night before and found a spot about 100 yards from the race start line.  There was still a light rain coming down at this point, but it got heavier the closer we got to race time.  The race announcer came on the loudspeaker and let us know the race was delayed due to weather—the on-course police support was still getting setup because of the rain.  I sat in my vehicle to avoid standing around in the rain without knowing the exact time we would start the race.  The delay lasted for only 15 minutes, but most runners did not get a chance for a normal warmup.

The marathon runners were allowed to start 10 minutes before the half marathoners.  I did not leave my vehicle until the announcer gave us a 5-minute warning for our race to start.  Made my way to the bathroom and then got a quick stretch in before heading to the start line.

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Yes, it was still raining, and the streets were wet!  We finally got started at 6:50 am

I decided to go out very controlled since the streets were wet and did not want to injure myself or anyone else.  I did not have a specific finish time in mind with the wet conditions—wanted to enjoy the course (LOL) and the experience.

Miles 1 – 3 were crowded as runners were very cautious trying to avoid slipping and bringing others down with them.  My first mile was a comfortable 9:19 which was probably too fast for the conditions and what was to come.  Miles 2 and 3 were like my Mile 1 pace but still felt comfortable.  A cool experience during this portion of the race was we got a chance to see dolphins swimming in the river.  Yes, runners enjoy the scenery during races. 😊

Slowed my pace a bit during Miles 4 and 5 because I knew the course got a bit tougher at the 6-mile point.  The FIRST bridge crossing starts at Mile 6 and goes up until you hit the Mile 7 marker.  Bridge running is tough in normal conditions but gets a lot tougher in the rain.  I did not want to lose too much time so gritted out the incline and then made-up time on the bridge decline.  Felt great through Mile 8 but hit a wall right at the Mile 9 marker.  This may have happened because my warmup routine was impacted due to rain or I went too fast on the bridge.  Either way, my legs were on fire and yes, it was still raining on us.

Decided at this point to just finish the race.  No need to try to set a Personal Record (PR) since my legs were not moving that fast anyway.

Miles 9 through 11 were consistently slow for me but I keep moving forward.  Started feeling good about myself again at this point but then the second bridge crossing was looming.  So, my question is:  who puts another bridge crossing at the 11-mile point of a half marathon?  A diabolical person, that’s who.

Yep, had to dig down to get up and over another bridge to finish this @#$% race!  I made it slowly up to the 12-mile marker and then found some level of courage to go faster on the decline.  I did not want to limp across the finish line but that is how I felt.  I put on my best I’m not in pain face and found a kick to get me across the finish line.  My official time was:  2:17:52 which was 6 minutes slower than Vero Beach.  I’ll take it with the conditions and bridge placement.

Got my medal, a couple beers and donuts and found a place to sit down to enjoy my prizes.  It was still raining so got my rain jacket out of my vehicle so I could sit and get some ice on my quads.  Talked with my fellow runners and we all experienced the course in a similar way.  Happy to finish but beat up by the conditions and the course.  Would love to meet the person who thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge after Mile 11. 😊

As much as I’m complaining, I will probably run this race again next year.  Hopefully, we will have better weather and I know the course now and can pace myself for a better finish.  We will see!

Irie!

“I run because punching people is frown upon”.

(Anonymous)

2021 OUC Half Marathon

OUC 1

Running Friend (n):  One who listens, does not judge, and somehow makes two hours of running fun.

(Pinterest)

Yes, I made the trek over to run the Orlando Hometown Half Marathon again this year.  This is becoming my favorite half marathon due to the course, weather, proximity, and the great Track Shack staff.

The is the 8th time for me running this half marathon and it may have been the most enjoyable.  I signed up for the race in December 2020 with the intent to target a Personal Record (PR) during the event.  I made an adjustment to my mindset during packet pickup to just enjoy the course, the spectators and, great December weather in Orlando.

I still wanted to beat my 2020 time but did not overemphasize the concept of a time-based goal.  My training has been good but nothing like the miles or training sessions I put in in 2019.  The hills in Tallahassee helped prepare me for races so I knew where my conditioning was before every race.  Targeted race times were easier to predict due to hill training.

I toed the start line this year with the intent to get/stay close to a pace so I would complete the half marathon in 2:15 (two hours and 15 minutes).  This would be ten minutes slower than my PR but obtainable without stressing my body too much just to hit a number.  This is personal growth for me because I normally beat myself up if I do not hit a certain number.  Decided to listen to my body and have fun since that is what this is all about.

I crossed the finish line this year in a time of 2:18:58 (two hours, 18 minutes, and 58 seconds).  Close but extremely happy with this time.  Why you ask?

Great question! 😊

I knew my tree branch, Daniel Botero was signed up for the race and we texted to make sure we connected prior to the race start.  Always great seeing my tree branches and this was the first time Daniel and I have seen each other in-person since February 2020.  While catching up and stretching Daniel asked me what my targeted time was for the race.  I gave him 2:15 for my targeted time and he asked if he could tag along. 

OUC 2

Looking at past articles on my training program and race schedules highlight I run alone.  This is mostly by choice but also because not many people in my Fort Pierce circle exercise or run.  I happily accepted Daniel’s request to run with me and embraced having a tree branch running with me.  I was surprised when he identified he would try to keep up with me—made me laugh a bit too since I am a lot older than him.

We agreed to run together until it was no longer practical.  Happy to report I got to run the first 5 miles of the half marathon with Daniel.  We kept a decent pace of 9:30 per minute over this distance before going our separate race strategies.

I traditionally run 8 smaller races within the half marathon.  I find it easier mentally and physically to leverage this approach and it has helped me gets faster.

Example:  The water stops are approximately 1.8 miles apart for most half marathons.

I run to each water stop and then walk through the area to drink water and Gatorade.  Please note, I do not stop moving forward but take about a 20 – 30 second walk break to replenish my fluids.  I take off running to the next water stop after getting my water and Gatorade.  This concept creates 8 smaller races and helps me stay strong throughout the half marathon.

There are other running strategies for success, but this works well for me.

My pace stayed consistent for the first 8 miles, but I began to slow a bit when the lactic acid in my legs started to get away from me.  I incorporated beet and tart cherry juice into my diet to help with the lactic acid buildup but there are times when it just jumps up and grabs you by the quads.  This was one of those times!

I carry nutrition gels in my running belt and started taking them at the 8-mile mark.  The gels help get more carbs into my system and helps with the leg pain.  Yes, I spend money, time and, effort to put myself in pain—runners are a unique breed.

A new adventure for this race is I ran with the 2:15 pace group for a good portion after mile 8.  The pacer was an experienced marathoner and paces half marathons for fun—again, we are a unique breed. 😊

I was happy to have company again and stayed with the group until my quads told me to slow down—I did!  My goal at this point was to stay ahead of the 2:20 pace group that was further behind me—I refused to let them catch up with me.  I stayed between both pace groups as I made my way back downtown Orlando.  The crowds were huge at this portion of the course and having people cheer for me gave me the extra inspiration to finish strong.

Yes, I was able to fake wellness and sprint across the finish line with a smile on my face.  This was a forced smile but smile I did.  Looked down at my watch and was happy with my effort and time for the day. 

Track Shack ran a 3-year series and every runner that completed the OUC Half Marathon in 2019, 2020 and 2021 got an extra medal to go along with the normal swag.  I did not realize I was in this elite group but happily accepted my additional bling.

OUC 4

Made my way to the runner’s village to get some refreshments and recover.  I wanted to stick around to cheer Daniel across the line and make sure he was okay.  He came across the finish line in good shape and I directed him to the medical tent to get some ice on his legs.  I always get ice to begin the recovery process and it helps with pain and inflammation caused by a 13.1-mile race.

Got a couple beers to replenish carbs and Daniel and I parted ways with a new memory for our growing friendship.  Hope to run with him again in 2022!

My plan is to run the OUC Half Marathon again in 2022.  Who is going to join me?

Irie!

OUC 3

Running to Savannah

RnR Savannah

“The journey is the destination”.

(Dan Eldon)

Searched for a clever destination run quote since I have been writing about the 2021 Savannah Rock N Roll Half marathon for months now.  The quote above brings me back to center with the simple concept on the importance of the journey.

Well, I have been working up to this journey for quite a bit of time.  I was originally scheduled to run in Savannah for the first time back in November 2020.  We know COVID-19 caused havoc and most races were cancelled in 2020. 

The Rock N Roll folks allowed runners to defer race credits forward to 2021 races—I decided to do a direct swap to the 2021 Savannah half marathon since I have never run in the city.  Please note, I have visited Savannah multiple times to enjoy the culture, food, and sightseeing.  My draw was to be a running tourist in Savannah and take in the sights while running through the city.

Full disclosure, my running tourist adventures did not happen in 2021 and we cannot blame it on COVID-19 this time.

Savannah weather in the month of November is normally mild and attracts 15k+ runners from all over the world.  I am sure my fellow runners targeted this race for the mild temperatures, flat course, music, and great food.  Unfortunately, I am not sure many runners experienced any of these things.

The weather forecast for race weekend identified rain and colder weather early in the week.  The premise was the rain would clear out before race day and keep temperatures cooler than normal.  I was excited to run in cooler weather since I train in Fort Pierce, Florida and experience heat and humidity daily.

I got on the road on Friday to head up I-95 to Savannah.  The trip was a straight shot up the interstate and took a little over 5 hours to get there.  It rained the entire drive up, but it was never a heavy rain, just steady.  My thoughts heading up was the rain would clear out by race day and things would be great in the morning.

This concept did not play out and the weather got much worse than projected. 

I made my way to the EXPO to pick up my race packet and get some shopping in—normal routine.  The rain impacted the foot traffic at the EXPO while I was there so getting in and out was quick.  Most of the folks there had rain gear on, but we all were hoping the rain would be gone by race day.  I was shocked with the number of vehicles still trying to get to the EXPO—I am sure the weather caused delays with runners arriving in town and then to the EXPO.

Made my way to the hotel to check-in and then look for a place to continue my carb loading program.  Decided to make a quick trip to a local Goodwill store to buy a sweatshirt I could wear in the corral while waiting for the race to start.  Runners routinely drop sweatshirts and blankets prior to racing—these items are then donated to local homeless shelters.  I did not find a sweatshirt at the Goodwill so headed across the street to Burlington and found what I needed for a very good price. 😊

Headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to complete my carb loading process and watch some college football before going to bed early.  FYI—it was raining the entire time I was out and about, but the hope was the rain would stop before morning—it did not!

I laid out my race outfit like normal when I got to the hotel.  Decided to dress in layers with a long sleeve run shirt since it was colder than normal.  My sweatshirt would allow me to stay warm prior to the race—in theory.

Fast forward to race day and it was STILL raining!  The rain was a drizzle when I headed out towards downtown and got a bit heavier the closer I got to the shuttle pickup spot.  My fellow runners were dressed in layers wearing rain gear, trash bags and large coats to stay dry and warm.  This should have been an indication of what was to come but we all got on the shuttle and headed to the start line.  The rain appeared to get heavier the closer we got to our drop off spot.

Everyone got off the shuttle with full intent to run the half or full marathon.  This intent lasted for about 30 minutes as the rain came down harder and the streets started to flood.  I met a lot of nice people from all over America as we huddled and shivered under a restaurant overhang trying to stay dry and somewhat warm. 

There was a gentleman who flew in from Seattle two days prior who needed to run this race to complete his goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states.  He was conflicted with the weather but determined to run.  Other runners had similar stories or reasons they wanted to run.  The consensus was none of us expected the weather to be this bad and completing the race in these conditions would be tough.  Some vowed to stay and run while others said to hell with this.  

I was in the hell with this camp since I rarely train in the rain but have done it.  The temperature at the time was 41 degrees and we were experiencing a downpour with no end in sight.  I decided to call NO JOY and not risk injury or sickness with the current conditions.

Made my way to Forsythe Park since that’s where the shuttles were to drive runners back to their vehicles.  A positive note is the shuttles had heat and provided a dry environment to get us out of the rain.  I have never made it to a race start line and not run but this was the best option for me considering the cold, rain, and race conditions for the day.

Happily made it back to my hotel, took a hot shower and got back in the bed for a 2 hour nap! 😊

I normally write about the sightseeing from a race location, but the rain never stopped.  I made my way back downtown so I could visit New Realm Brewery.  My first experience with New Realm Brewery was when I ran in Virginia Beach back in September.  Great food again!  They were out of the Acai Berry cider, but I was able to enjoy another local craft beer which was pretty good.

That’s about it for my trip—the rain and cold weather was not conducive to exploring so I didn’t.  Made my way back to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch more football and stay dry.        

Don’t know if I will try to run Savannah again—two tries and two false starts.

May just take a trip back up in the summer to experience the city as a regular tourist. 😊

https://www.savannahnow.com/story/sports/recreation/2021/11/06/nasty-weather-forces-rock-n-roll-savannah-marathon-shortened/6300893001/

RnR Savannah 2

Track Shack UCF 5 Miler

5 Mile race

“Every morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most”.

(Buddha)

Merriam-Webster defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Happy to report there has not been any misfortune for me, but the change has been an adjustment to my training regimen.  I am still putting in work but not able to get the same quality sessions I put in pre-COVID.  This can be directly attributed to my work role in Fort Pierce but please do not think I am complaining.

We have made some major operational improvements and there is light at the end of the tunnel where we will soon normalize operations and I can get back to putting in more training miles.

The concept of resiliency reminds me of the old saying:  try and then try again!

Decided to use shorter races as a bigger part of my training program to get me prepared for the rigors of the half marathon distance.  I have the 2021 Rock N Roll Savannah half marathon in November and the 2021 Track Shack OUC half marathon in December.  My overall goal is to run a half marathon under 2 hours and the Track Shack OUC half marathon is the ideal setup to make this happen.  I need to put in additional training miles to build my endurance back to my 2019 levels. 

My fastest half marathon was the 2019 Track Shack OUC half marathon with a time of 2:05:51 (two hours, five minutes, and 51 seconds).  2020 was set to be my fastest year ever but of course COVID-19 shut down racing and my training lagged—that’s on me! 😊

So, what’s my plan to correct my training and speed issues?  Well, I check multiple running clubs to see what races are being offered locally and within driving distance to me in Fort Pierce. 

I routinely scan the Fleet Feet Stuart and Orlando Track Shack events pages to determine which races are available to help with my training program.  I just shared with my best friend I have a hard time training with race pace—it is a mental thing for me since I do not have competitors or anyone to pace with.  I am sure I may be the only active running with this issue but targeting real races seems to get my competitive nature going.  This may not be the ideal strategy, but I will try this out to get me closer to my half marathon goal. 

Made my way back over to Orlando for the 2021 Track U Can Finish 5 Mile race to get some speed work in.  I ran this same event when I lived in Oviedo, but this is the first time I tackled the race distance in 8 years. 

This is an interesting event because it has multiple distances available for runners to try.  The first event is the U Can Finish 2 Mile race and Track Shack has a distance dare.  Runners can sign up to run the 2-mile race and then compete in the 5-mile race right after.  The hook for distance dare runners is the opportunity to collect 3 medals:  2-mile, 5-mile, and distance dare medals.  Runners love their bling and a lot of them took part in the distance dare.  I did not—officially. 😊

Did something new on race day to ensure I got in extra training miles.  I stay in the same hotel each time I visit the Orlando area and it is down the street from the UCF campus. 

I decided to leave my vehicle parked at the hotel and ran the 2-mile distance to the UCF campus for the start of the 5-mile race.  Figured this was a great way to warmup and stretch my legs before my race and ensured I would get in a long training session—it was just broken up into segments.

Toed the line for the 5-mile race completely warmed up and excited to run on the UCF campus again.  The race village was setup directly in front of the Career Services building where I worked for 4-years prior to moving to Tallahassee and the FSU Career Center.  Great being back on the old stomping grounds. 😊

My goal for the 5-mile race was simply to test my endurance and consistently run miles splits with a 9 on the front of them (9:05, 9:10, etc.).  Mission accomplished.

The UCF campus is completely flat which helped a lot.  Went out with the intent to run my race based on feel and then push myself when I could. 

Mile-1 went by at an 8:44 per minute pace and I felt good with the effort.  Mile-2 through 5 were:  9:15, 9:33, 9:57, 9:42 which got me to the finish line at 47:29.  Targeted 45 flat but happy with my results considering I put in a 2-mile run before my race. 

Collected my 5-mile medal and took some pictures to commemorate the race and my time back at UCF.  Got some refreshments and stretched a bit before heading out.  I tucked my race medal away and began my 2-mile journey back to my hotel—yes, I ran back for a total of 9 training miles for the day.  Felt great every step of the day!

I will look for additional races to help me prepare for my next two half marathons.  Still have some speed in these legs, just need to release it in my unique way.

FYI—I am still on pace to meet my 2021 goals of 1,000 training miles.  Imagine my mileage if I could stay consistent with my training.

Irie!

How do you display resilience in your daily activities?  Thanks!

“Life does not get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”.

(Steve Maraboli)

Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Virginia Beach half

“Remember, the second most important thing to choosing the right shoe is choosing the left one”.

(Unknown)

Decided to exercise one of my 2020 race credits for the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon over the Labor Day weekend.  I targeted this race in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down running but never got a chance to explore Virginia Beach. 

I have traveled to the state of Virginia before, but it was in the Washington D. C. area—never the coast.  Starting and finishing a race on the Virginia Beach boardwalk was an appealing draw for me and wanted to explore the area as a running tourist

Happy to report the race, festivities and weather were fantastic and I enjoyed my adventure.

I have been training but knew my current regimen was not where it needs to be to run a Personal Record (PR).  Most folks know I am always chasing my next PR, but it appears I am getting wiser with my mental focus.  My goal for Virginia Beach was to take a measured approach to the race and then determine how fast my pace would be for the rest of the race.

Booked an early Southwest airlines flight out of Orlando to get to my race destination.  This was my first plane ride since my Rock N Roll half marathon and cheesesteak adventures in Philadelphia back in 2019.  I did not know how I would react to being back on a plane but felt safe since everyone in the airport and on the plane wore their masks.  I have seen horror stories on the news about people not wearing masks but did not experience this at all. 

Settled into my exit row seat with extra leg room and enjoyed the two-hour flight to Virginia.  This was a perfect opportunity for me to catch up on my reading.  I currently have two books going—Eat that Frog and Start With Why.  Both books speak to my current work situation, so I bounce back and forth between the books.  May need to just finish one so I can tackle the other one with more energy—we will see!

The flight to Virginia Beach was uneventful—nothing special happened but was excited to finally arrive to get the adventure started.

Hotels close to the race venture were booked or too expensive for my taste.  Ended up staying in Chesapeake, Virginia which is close to a lot of shopping and entertainment.  Made the most of this fact and did some light window shopping and got a pedicure.  Nothing like having your feet rubbed prior to pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles. 😊  Completed my carb loading process with extra pasta at The Olive Garden and made sure to drink extra water.

The weather was projected to be hotter than normal so drinking water was necessary to stay hydrated. 

EXPO

The Rock N Roll EXPOs are always a highlight of the weekend.  The excitement of being so close to race day puts a smile on the face of most runners.  I was happy to be back around runners again and experiencing a new city.  The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll EXPO was light on merchandise and vendors—believe this is because 2021 was the 20th Anniversary of this race and also the last year for the event. 

The Virginia Beach city leaders decided they did not want to host the race anymore and wanted to leverage the Labor Day holiday weekend for other activities.  There were vendors available but not as many as I am used to for the Rock N Roll series.  I made sure to shop and buy a new set of leg compression sleeves since they were marked down 50%–got a pair of white CHEP compression sleeves.  I am sure you will see picture of me rocking them soon. 😊

Virginia Beach Expo

Boardwalk

Made my way over to the boardwalk after the EXPO to get a taste of Virginia Beach.  Got a chance to take some pictures at the King Neptune statue that sits right on the boardwalk.  King Neptune is popular with running tourists so had to ensure I got the photo.  The beach was crowded—this could be because it was Labor Day weekend, and the local schools start the following week.  There were a ton of families on the beach enjoying the sun, surf, and weather.  Decided to find a spot to get a drink and food. 

Virginia Beach

Found Catch 31 right on the boardwalk and pulled up at the outdoor bar to enjoy the beach and the view.  Ordered crab cake and beer so I could people watch and enjoy college football on the  TVs.  This was a popular place, and everyone was friendly—I would recommend visiting Catch 31 if you are in the Virginia Beach area.  

https://catch31.com/

Virginia Beach Neptune

Race

Left Catch 31 with the intent to get to bed early so I could get up the next day to run the half marathon.  I hit the bed to get my rest and get off my feet.  I always set my race outfit out the night before since this makes life easier on race day.  Decided to rep the Orlando Track Shack running club again during this race.  My Track Shack race shirts always get attention from other runners and give us something to talk about before the race.

The race start was staggered to ensure we maintained a safe distance prior to crossing the start line.  I was assigned Corral #4 again based on my projected finish time.  Happy to report my start position has improved over the years which means I am running faster than most of the runners in each race. 😊

My goal was to run a steady pace, enjoy the process and not hurt myself by trying to do too much.  Mission accomplished!  The race started one block over from the beach and we made our way to the boardwalk within the first mile.  It was great running next to the beach with a nice sunrise coming up over the water.

The course brought us back onto the main drag and then we headed south through neighborhoods for most of the race.  My plan is always to run to each water stop and then walk through them when I get water or Gatorade.  I take off running again and head towards the next water stop.  This approach has allowed me to complete multiple races and set PRs in the process. 

I ran with a smile on my face for the first 8 miles then my quads and hamstring started to scream at me.  Again, I have been running but not putting in the correct number of miles to build the lactic acid threshold needed for a half marathon.  I knew this coming into the race, but it never seems to help when your legs are burning—you just keep moving forward.  I continued my game plan even with the pain, but I was not moving very fast. 

Mile 10 is where I decided trying to run a PR was not happening so slowed my pace to enjoy the rest of the race.  Luckily for me I decided a PR was not worth the pain—Mile 11 is where runners faced the problem of running up a steep bridge to get closer to the finish line.  Most of us let out an audible ‘Holy Crap’ when we saw the bridge and the knowledge we had to get up and over to finish the race.  My pace slowed down even more while making my way over the bridge.  The downhill portion was great and led us back to the boardwalk to finish the race.  There were race spectators along the boardwalk and they cheered us to the finish line.

Very happy and proud to finish this race considering my training program was subpar—I can improve and will put more effort into my preparation.

Realm Brewery

The reward for completing the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon was a trip to New Realm Brewery.  This spot was highly recommended and did not disappoint.  Realm Brewery is an open air and inside sitting establishment.  The outside sitting is covered and there is plenty room to social distance while enjoying food and drink.  I got the Acai and Blueberry Seltzer and New Realm Burger which was outstanding.  There was live music in the afternoon and the environment was fantastic.  They did not have TVs outside to watch football but that is a small thing considering how great this place is.  Yes, I will visit again when I am back in the Virginia Beach area.

Unfortunately, the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will not be run again.  Great location, course, and entertainment in the area—guess I will have to explore other Rock N Roll locations to continue this running tourist program. 😊

Savannah is next on the list!

“If found on the ground, drag to the finish line”.

(From a runner’s t-shirt)

Half Marathon training (South Florida)

Celebration of running

“Life is short…running makes it seem longer”.

(Baron Hansen)

September 5, 2021 is coming!  This date may only be circled on my calendar, but it has importance to my Walk into the Future.

The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will take place on 9/5/21.  This year’s race marks the 20th anniversary of the Rock n Roll series in Virginia Beach and will also be the last time this race is run.  Received an email last week stating the city of Virginia Beach and the Rock n Roll series agreed to make this the last hoorah.  This is my first visit to Virginia Beach, and I will have to make the most of it.

The date of the half marathon is significant to me due to my training program.  I did not have a huge half marathon training focus in 2020 due to COVID-19.  I got miles in but never found my training pace because most races were cancelled due to COVID protocols.

Fast forward to 2021 and races are slowly coming back and the running tourist in me is excited to hit the road again.  I am looking forward to exploring new locations and testing myself against courses I have only read about or seen pictures.

So, what’s the problem you may ask?  Great question and thanks!  The problem is:  it is HOT down here!!! 😊

I will not get into the concept of climate change, global warming, etc. but this south Florida heat and humidity is impacting my training program.

I officially launched my half marathon training on 6/28/21.  This put me two months out from the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half and should be plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared to run.  I am getting my runs and bike rides in but struggle to extend my miles due to the heat and humidity in my current location.  My long runs top out at 7 miles because I want to be mindful of the impact the heat has while training. 

I get up earlier for my weekend runs but the temperature hits the mid-80s by 9 am and only goes up from there.  Not complaining because most of my runs on done close to the water so I can always stop and make it a beach outing when I am done with my runs.

I did not think the four-hour drive from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce would make much difference on my running program but there is a different level of heat down here.  Again, not complaining but stating a fact.  This is a fact I must come to grips with soon to keep preparing for future races.  I targeted several local 5ks to keep my competitive juices flowing but need these short races to get me race ready. 

I added more bike rides (gym and outside) to get more miles on my legs to build up the threshold needed to run and complete a half marathon.  This is a new approach for me but a safe way to extend my training without having to deal with the south Florida heat.

I recently added treadmill runs to my training program.  I am not a fan of running on a treadmill, but this equipment allows me to log miles and push myself to get ready for the actual process of running a half marathon.  My new training routine consists of morning miles on my regular route near the beach and then a treadmill session with equal miles.

The one treadmill trick I started using is to cover the time/distance/speed display.  Running on the treadmill is a mentally draining exercise for me and I believe it is because the display does not match what I THINK I’m accomplishing.  Simply put, it feels like I have run further than the display shows so I get frustrated with the process.  Covering the display allows me to forget about the distance and time and just put in the work.  I see multiple people who appear to enjoy their time on the treadmill, and I am amazed watching them.  I need to get over my treadmill DREAD and just put in the work. 

Looking forward to cooler weather so I can get back to longer outside runs again.  Did I mention it is hot in South Florida? 😊

“Don’t be a jogger.  They are the ones who find dead bodies”.

(RuntotheFinish)

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