Gotta Love a Solid PR!

On Sunday, I ran in the inaugural running of the Celebration Marathon. This race was, in a word, fantastic, and I’d highly recommend that you consider running it next year.

For an inaugural event, the organizers did a tremendous job keeping things together and running smoothly. Were there some things that they might want to do differently next year? No question. But all in all, I didn’t see anything major that you could really complain about regarding this race.

I came closer to running a perfect race than ever before, only missing the mark by .06 miles. I also managed to PR by 21 minutes, so I was pretty stoked with my performance. I really wanted to end up under 4 hours, (official time was 4:08:34) so I could have done better, but a 21 minute PR will have to be good enough.

Photo by The Wife

Photo by The Wife

In my humble opinion, there were a lot more pros than cons with this race. And in truth, I almost had to reach to find any cons.

The Pros

  • Flat–If you are afraid of hills, this race is for you. There weren’t even any “Florida Hills”, aka overpasses, on this course. If you want flat and fast, come to Celebration in 2015.
  • Small Field–I know size is relative (that’s what she said), and for some bigger is better(and she said it again), but if you don’t want to have to dodge other runners for 26.2 miles, this race is for you. Granted the first half of the race is a bit crowded until those running the half split off, there’s nothing like having a little elbow room for the vast majority of the race.
  • Great Expo–Again, this is a bit relative, but I thought the expo was fantastic. I’m not a big expo fan to begin with. I’m more of a get my packet and get out of here kind of guy, but for a race with only 2000 people in it, I was really impressed. While there were fewer venders than at some big races, there were lots of samples to be given out and lots of products to try. And the cool thing about small race expos is that often the big companies shy away, but the small companies come to try and expand their customer base. So it’s cool to see some newer products from some newer companies.
  • Awesome Weather–I know there is no guarantee that the weather will be perfect again next year, but let’s be honest. The likelihood of good weather in Central Florida as opposed to the rest of the country at this time of year (polar vortex, anyone?) is pretty high. I’ll take mid-50s for the race, thank you very much.

The Cons

  • Two Laps–For the full, we basically ran the same loop twice. This isn’t a huge con, but the first lap we ran with those running the half so the course was a bit crowded. For most of it, there wasn’t much of a problem. But there was one stretch of about a mile, where it got really crowded during the first lap.
  • The Post Race Party–All in all, the post race party wasn’t bad. When we finished, we picked up a card to take to a variety of vendor in order to try samples of their food and drinks. The problem was that it wasn’t completely clear where to go to get the card after crossing the finish line, and some vendors ran out of items early. I know the vendors running out of food early isn’t the race organizers fault, but it was still a bit of a downer.

Overall, this was a fantastic race and I’d absolutely consider running it again. The only reason I’m not quite ready to commit to it again for next year is that I need to start running in more states than just Florida. But for the price, and for the fact that late January isn’t the greatest time to run a race in most other parts of the country, I’ll go out on a limb and say that at some point I’ll definitely run this race again.

If you’re thinking about running Celebration in 2015, do it. You won’t be disappointed!

If You Only Do One Thing Today, Run. For Meg.

Ask any runner why they run, and you’ll get a variety of answers.

To feel free. To relieve stress. To feel alive. To have some peace and quiet. To think. To clear my head. To improve my health. To be alone. To be with other runners.

The list goes on and on, but rarely do any of us think that today’s run will be our last.

I’d never heard of Meg Menzies before this week, but I imagine that she ran for many of the reasons above. But when Meg left her house Monday morning for her run, everything seemed normal.

Until things changed.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Meg was hit by a drunk driver that morning and passed away. While her family is dealing with the loss, the running community around the country is holding them close today.

Because today, we are running for Meg.

megsmile-fb.jpg?w=402Keep an eye on twitter today, and I’d bet you’ll see #megsmiles trending for most of the day. Runners across America are uniting and running in honor of a woman who’s life was ended way too premature.

In a way that, if we’re honest, could happen to any one of us.

So run today. Run a mile. Or a marathon.

Just run.

For Meg.

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Altra Ambassador 2014

Just a quick post today letting yall in on a little secret I’ve been keeping for a few days.

Altra-BadgeI’ve been chosen to represent Altra Running for 2014 as one of their Altra Ambassadors. In case you missed one of my posts or tweets about how much I love their shoes since I made the switch to Altras a little over a year ago, don’t worry. I’ll be promoting them even more this year, but it’s really only because I love the shoes and I know they’ve worked wonders for me and my running.

Being an Ambassador is nice, but I’d still be trying to talk people into trying the shoes regardless. If you’re interested in more info, just let me know or check out their website.

And with a little luck, maybe FitNiche would allow a couple of pairs to be sold in the store? Is that asking too much?

 

Have You Ever Tried Altras, or Any Other Zero or Minimal Drop Shoe?

What Did You Think?

2014 Walt Disney World Marathon

This past weekend I ran my 3rd Disney Marathon, which was my 5th full marathon overall.

There is a lot to love about runDisney events, but after running a handful of non-runDisney events (halves and fulls) I’ve come to learn that runDisney definitely leaves a few things to be desired as well.

The Good Stuff

  • The Bling–Disney events tend to feature some pretty nice finishers medals. This year was no different in my book. Big. Gawdy. Heavy. Love it.

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  • Characters on the Course–If you’re running in a Disney race, you’re going to see lots of characters out there to take pictures with, if you’re so inclined. Not only are Mickey and Minnie out there, but there are also a lot of characters out and about that aren’t regularly seen in the parks. This was my 8th runDisney event, and this was the first time I actually stopped to take a bunch of pictures. Great decision.

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  • Lots of Company–This is a double edged sword, because having lots of fellow runners means that the course can be a little crowded sometimes, and not all runners are familiar with proper runner etiquette. But after running a race in October where I was pretty much alone for 18 of the 26 miles, it was nice having some company from start to finish.

The Not-So-Good

  • Corral Placement is a Joke–On paper, putting runners in order by their projected finish time, and sending them out in waves is a good idea. runDisney fails when it comes to putting this idea into practice. Nothing against walkers or run/walkers, but they shouldn’t be in one of the first couple of corrals in a race this size. When they stop, and usually it’s more than one person at a time, it creates an instant road block. And since the course is crowded virtually the entire way, it can be a hassle to get around them. I don’t know how some people got into the corrals they did.
  • Lack of Guest Relations/Customer Service–For a company that is so focused on making guests happy, Disney dropped the ball when it comes to runner relations at the race expo. I have a friend that ran the race, her first full, and when she registered she didn’t have a qualifying time to give her a good corral placement. She was hoping for a sub-4:00 race, and ran a half in November in 1:50 and change, which should have placed her in one of the better corrals. runDisney, however, decided that November was too late in the year for a change in her corral placement to be changed on her bib, and for the first time that I’m aware of, they wouldn’t permit her to change her corral at the expo even though she had a verifiable qualifying time. She still managed to run 4:01 while weaving through, literally, 1000’s of slower runners that were able to get corral placements that my friend should have.
  • Post Race Food–I’m not going to blast runDisney over the price of the race, which is high, but I understand where the money goes. One place the money doesn’t go, however, is to the post race spread. I’ve been to races that cost $40-50 that have huge buffets, hot food, lots of drinks (read, free beer), and entertainment for all runners. Disney gives you, what amounts to, a poor-mans boxed lunch. We got a few bagged treats (corn chips, almond puffs, crasins), a banana, and a powerade. Spare no expense. (To be fair, all food items were gluten-free, which isn’t often the case concerning post-race foods, so I do really appreciate that thought from the race organizers.)

All in All

When it’s all said and done, I had a blast running this race.

Stopping for pictures with the characters was a first for me, and it really made all the difference. If you’re trying to run a race for a fast time, and don’t want to stop for pictures, you might want to try another option. But if you’re looking for a fun race to run, the Disney Marathon is a pretty good choice.

I doubt I’ll make the Disney full a regular event on my race schedule, even though I’ve run 3 of the last 4, but I’m leaning toward doing it again next year. I’m thinking about doing the Goofy Challenge next year, but that might be my last Disney full for awhile.

Anyone want to run it with me?

Have You Ever Run a runDisney Event? Did You Run in the Marathon Weekend This Year? What Were Your Thoughts of the Event?

A Runner’s Knees

Stop me when this sounds familiar.

You’re talking to a non-runner about whatever. During the course of the conversation, the fact that you’re a runner comes up and the non-runner decides to stir the pot a little bit.

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Image by Pascal Maramis via Flickr

“You’ll be sorry you’ve been doing all that running one of these days, when your knees are shot, arthritic, and it hurts to even walk around for more than a few minutes!”

Really, non-runner?

I know I can’t be the only runner to ever have a conversation come to a screeching halt because of a statement similar to this. But what are you supposed to do? Someone who doesn’t run is telling me that something I enjoy, something that’s good for my health, and something that makes me feel better than I’ve ever felt before is telling me that running is going to make me miserable.

Am I’m supposed to just smile and carry on like it’s no big deal?

Are The Nay-Sayers Right?

I like to think they’re not.

Being a personal trainer, and coming from a sports medicine/athletic training background, I understand the physics and physiology about what the non-runners are claiming. Running puts a lot of stress on the body, and the longer you run (both in terms of distance and duration) the more stress your body has to endure.

Let me say this about that.

Our bodies are the most complex, amazing, and mind blowing machines ever. We are able to adapt like crazy, and these adaptations can help us stay healthy and continue to run for years.

If you get off the couch after years of sedentary behavior and go run a marathon, then you’re probably going to be hurting. Your knees, hips, ankles, feet, quads, hammies, calves, back, and glutes (did I miss anything?) will all be screaming at you.

But you didn’t give your body a chance to adapt to the demands you placed on it.

Instead, do a 5k. Then maybe a 10k. Build up your distance over time and follow a training plan. In the end, you’ll be able to make it a full 26.2 miles without feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck. Just give your body time to adapt and recover, and you’ll be surprised at what it can do.

If the nay-sayers won’t buy that well thought out argument concerning our body’s adaptability, hit them with a hay maker. A casual “Walking around obese and out of shape puts a lot more stress on one’s knees than running a marathon. So I’ll take my chances as a runner!”

That usually shuts them up.

An Ace in the Hole

However, as runners we now have an ace up our proverbial sleeves.

As I was reading through my new Running Times issues this morning, I saw a headline that made me do a double take. Turns out, “Running is Good For Your Knees”.

e9a2295b3db9b45c8f5484a09033c1c71cf88e3375bb7ff60456bc81c29a4e04Running does not cause osteoarthritis, according to a new study from the the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Their study showed that runners are actually less likely that walkers to have arthritis or need hip replacement surgery later in life.

So running can help you keep your knees and hips healthy instead of breaking them down. Yahtzee!

Just Don’t Be Stupid

Like anything, running too much can cause problems, so don’t overdo it.

Listen to your body, take a day or two off if you need to, and ramp up your mileage and intensity over time.

And the next time some clown tries to warn you about how your knees are eventually going to hate you for all this running you’re doing, just smile and let them in on the secret.

And then get back out there and hit the pavement.

How Do You Usually Respond When Someone Talks About Running Causing Arthritis and Knee Issues?