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It’s Almost Race Time

Three days from now, I’ll be finished running America’s Toughest Road Marathon.

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How’s that for self confidence?

The Blue Ridge Marathon is happening on Saturday, and I can’t wait! I’ve been looking forward to this race for awhile now, though if I’m honest, I’ve been a little nervous about this race as well.

You see, as a naturalized Floridian, we don’t really have many hills to train on. In fact, the (only half-way joking) legitimate hills we have are actually road/highway overpasses.

No offense, but overpasses don’t quite measure up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is an advertised 7,500 feet of elevation change over the course of those 26.2 miles.

You could say that I’m slightly unprepared for this race, but I’m not sure that would accurately portray how this race is going to go. I know I’m capable of handling the miles, but the hills are going to kill me. If I can make it in less than 5 hours, it’ll be a win for me.

Just Having Fun

No matter how the race goes, the goal for this weekend is to just have fun. I’ll be flying up to VA on Friday morning, running the race Saturday morning, and flying home Saturday night. The travel itinerary isn’t ideal, but it is what it is.

And this way I can blame the lack of a PR on the condensed travel schedule! Hehe.

If any of y’all are running Blue Ridge this weekend, I’d love to meet you guys! Let me know, or give me a shout on twitter, and we can meet up at the expo.

And if you see me curled up along the side of the road on Saturday in the fetal positions, just keep going.

I’ll be ok.

Boston Marathon

Boston 2014

Every year, runners like me stop and dream about running the Boston Marathon.

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Then last year happened.

When those bombs went off last year, runners bonded together like never before. All across the country, different communities and clubs hosted races to help raise money for the victims, and to proclaim that the running family is as strong now as ever.

I’ve wanted to run Boston for a few years now, and while I’m still over an hour from qualifying, the dream is stronger now than ever.

So while I’m not running it this year, I’m there in spirit.

Run fast guys. Enjoy!

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!

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?

2014 Blue Ridge Marathon Giveaway!

BRM_OfficialBack in August, I was lucky enough to be named one of the official bloggers for the 2014 Blue Ridge Marathon, which will be taking place on April 26 in Roanoke, VA.

The race organizers proudly advertise this as “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”, and while I won’t be able to comment on the difficulty of the course until after the race, I know it’s going to be a serious challenge.

z_tough2Why? Because the full marathon course features over 7,400 feet of elevation change! Here in central Florida, our biggest hills are little more than overpasses and fire ant mounds, so mountain running is going to be a challenge.

I’m looking forward to it, but it’s going to be a HUGE test physically and mentally!

Now for the fun stuff. If you think you can hang with me in the mountains next spring, here’s your chance. You can enter by clicking the following link ( a Rafflecopter giveaway ), and the winner will be selected from all eligible entries on Monday morning, Dec 30th. I’ll email the winner instructions on how to claim his or her entry, as well as give the winner a shout out on Twitter.

What are you waiting for! Enter now! Good luck!

*Disclaimer–As an official blogger for the Blue Ridge Marathon, I have been given one entry for myself and one entry to give away via this drawing. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post of the Blue Ridge Marathon are mine, and have not been influenced by anyone associated with the Blue Ridge Marathon in any way.