Carol Marsh Kids 2 Camp 5k 2014

So this past weekend was the 2nd annual Carol Marsh Kids 2 Camp 5k at First UMC here in town. Seeing that my wife not only works at the church, but that a lot of the kids in her program are able to go to summer camp because of the proceeds of this event, I was obviously running this event again this year.

While I still have a serious hatred for 5k racing, I do enjoy this race for the simple fact that it is not around Lake Hollingsworth like just about every other 5k in town.

So since the race is on a different course, and it’s for a good cause, I went ahead and signed up for the race.

When I was picking up our bibs and goodie bags the night before the race, the ladies that organized the race were already congratulating me on winning this year’s race. I tried laughing them off, but they were certain I’d win after placing third last year. One even said that my only real competition was injured, so I was in pretty good shape to win.

What they didn’t know was that my plan for race morning was to get up early, head into town, and knock of 8-10 miles BEFORE running the 5k. Seeing as I’m only about 7 weeks out from the Blue Ridge Marathon, I need a lot more miles than just 3.1 on a Saturday.

Well, after oversleeping by about an hour on Saturday, I decided to forgo the long run opportunity, and just run the race instead. So I grabbed Bailey, and headed to the church. We got there with enough time for her to do her “thing” and me to get about a mile warm up in, and headed to the start line.

As the race started, there were a handful of kids that basically took off in a sprint. I tried to keep Bailey from going crazy with all of the kids, and we just focused on getting off to a good start. Once the kids dropped off, all of about 1/4 mile into the race, we settled into a groove behind the bike that was leading the way.

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Bailey and I Were So Fast, This is The Only Evidence of Our Victory!

After the first mile, things were feeling pretty good, and B had stopped going crazy like she does at the start of every run, so we kept at it. We had done the first mile in 6:28, so I knew we were moving pretty good, I just hoped I didn’t go out to fast and could maintain this pace for the rest of the race.

As we blew past the second mile, I thought for a minute that I might actually have a chance at a new PR. I set a PR in last year’s race, but had blown it out of the water a few times during the Watermelon Races last summer. And since I’d really only been doing marathon training, not 5k training, I didn’t think there would be a chance I could touch my 20:21 in this race. But as we were coming around the corner with less than a 1/4 to go, it was actually possible.

When we got to the finish line, I checked the time. 20:24. Not quite a PR, but a good 30 seconds faster than I thought I would be. I was surprised, since there were no other runners around us for the entire race. Of course, I did have miss thing pulling me!

Last year, finishing 2nd in my age group won me an awesome plate decorated by one of the kids in the Neighborhood Ministries Department at the church. This year, the kids decorated some coffee cups. (Somebody in NM must know me well!)

Photo on 2014-03-12 at 14.36So now, I’m almost looking forward to next year’s race. I mean, I’ve got the plate and the coffee cup. What’s next, silverware? Soup bowl?

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see!

 

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?