Marathon Route #4: Mississippi Blues Marathon – Jackson, MS

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I had the blues the entire time I ran this course. Not Chicago-style, Big-Horns, Big-Holler Blues but the kind you hear travelling through the backwoods of Mississippi, where small crop farmers have sold out family lands to Monsanto corporate soybean fields, but still live in run down old shacks where the winter winds blow through the cracks on the east and come tinkling out on a guitar with one string missing to the west. My feet are tired. My body too. Keeping trudgin’ on. Twenty six point two.

Back to running the route of a marathon, not the actual race. Coming off the high of running two races with personal records, tons of support, local inspiration, and comraderly commisseration, my heart felt as empty as Jackson’s streets at 6:30 in the morning, cold winds whistling over cracked pavement punctuated by the sirens of three cop cars and an ambulance. Why am I doing this?!? It seemed like a good idea at the time. If they go to the trouble of putting together a race, I figure, it will highlight the best the city has to offer. From what I hear, the race directors pull out all the stops for actual race day. Lots of great bands, lots of Southern hospitality, a terrific race medal with a guitar pick for the blingistas, a B.B. King Cd and harmonica for the swagsters, an amazing Blues pub crawl that I can attest to thanks to my host for recreating it, and a tie-in to the already reviewed First Light Marathon in Alabama for the crazy ultra/double marathon crowd. I’m sure the local populace comes out in force to support the runners as well. However, this will be of the course and only the course as I ran it lonely and tired this past Sunday, two weeks after the last of the water cups and Gu packets had been swept from the streets.

Course Review

Hills, hills, and more hills. Big Hills and little hills. Almost all over the course once you get past mile 4, you will be on a hill of some sort. I really don’t have anything against hills per se, and it should be said that there isn’t an impossible hill on this course. You know the kind I mean, straight up a dramatic incline or the kind of hill that goes on for two miles, up and up. Nope just (mostly) gentle, rolling hills. My main problems with those hills here in Jackson were twofold. Firstly, what goes up, must come down, right? Not in Jackson. When I run a certain distance uphill, I expect a fair and equal balance of downhill time and this is not the case. In fact, this race sees a 950 foot gain over the course of the race. This has since been disproved as a misreading of my instruments. The course is not designed by M.C. Escher, it just feels like it is. Secondly, because of living in the beautiful Northeast, I get spoiled. Usually when I get to the top of a hill there’s visual payoff, a well earned reward such as a stunning vista, a scenic overlook, or a touristy token to take a race selfie. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me. The downtown was stark, especially heading towards the University. Even running through campus was a bit of a cement graveyard (once again, I’m sure during the race, the crowds of students are abundant, but the actual campus is bare). The 3rd mile and the 26th mile are filled with some gorgeous government buildings as well as the Museum of Art and the Planetarium. After that, it is a mix of city sprawl, medical campuses, various economic neighborhoods, and highway sideramps. I truly feel that there is a missed opportunity with LeFleur’s Bluff State Park and the Pearl River so close to the course. The main reason I would come back to The Mississippi Blues race is for the party. The course itself left me wanting.

Lessons Learned

Avoid All Obstacles

This should be self-explanatory but do not overlook the small stuff. In this instance – do sweat the small stuff! Just because a pinecone look decrepit and rotten, do not stomp on it like an ice giant crushing a small Nordic village. You will roll your ankle and you will regret it. Also do not kick any cans or larger than normal pebbles, don’t step on a Crack and break your mother’s back. These are basics that should not be ignored.

Check Sidewalk Quality

During a race you have the luxury of running in the middle of the road. During non race times, it’s usually safest to be on the sidewalk – unless the sidewalk looks like it’s from a post apocalyptic movie set. Cue second rolled ankle. The area suffers from a clay ground base and so much of the course had buckles in the pavement and the sidewalks similar to what our frost heaves look like back home. I must occasionally check the sidewalks when I am doing my prerun course review.

Do Not Drive For 3 Hours After The Race With Rolled Ankles In A Stickshift

Nuff said.

Physical Review

I felt great prior to the race, except for a little excessive chaffing (which healed nicely, thank you Gold Bond Ultrahealing). During this race, lacking the adrenaline and competitive spirit from the previous races, I felt every ache and pain. My lower back was flaring up after mile 5 and my feet were sore from mile 8. After rolling my left ankle the first time, it was sore but workable. When I rolled it the second time, I had a little shooting pain and I fell, skinning my hands and bruising my elbow and ego. Had the feet and ankle alternating between ice baths and Epson salt baths on Monday and they feel pretty good today. Neosporin took care of the abrasions. My ego is still a little bruised. I finished with a time of 6:18:32. Almost a full hour more than the previous week’s PR. On the flipside, I ran about a half hour less than my first marathon this year in Florida. I did run the least amount of miles during the week since I began this journey and really haven’t done any hill training since November. I will make sure I run my support 15 this week and make sure I am incorporating hill training every other week, even if the terrain doesn’t naturally provide it. Off to another great music city this week. See y’all in Memphis, Tennessee!

Beautiful Runs – Wheedon Island Preserve, Florida

Get yourself lost at the Maze in the Mangroves!

Glorious photographs of idealized scenery shot in HD, hyper-real, technicolor hues can inspire us on days of infinite boredom as we run the same old streets and over traipsed trails. This year I get to explore these phenomenal areas and see if they really live up to the hype or if the pictures are just a stolen moment never to be recreated again. Hopefully, my experiences will lead you to be able to create that magic moment for yourself.

20160107_081023This location was very important to me. In fact, the picture I had seen of this location was the inspiration for all of my beautiful run locations. I really wanted to get this right. Runner’s World publishes a feature called Rave Runs every month, and every month I would hungrily open the magazine to see what exotic locale was featured that month.  March 2015 Rave Run was not in the middle of a desert, on top of mountain, or on some other continent, it is right on Tampa Bay. When this article came out, I was still in the planning stages of this trip and this photo made my trip seem real and doable.

So I set out for Weedon Island Preserve. I did not have high hopes for the day. Those of you who know my running quirks know that I enjoy launching my extravagant explorations before the sun comes up so that I can position myself in just the right spot for the perfect photography light the sunrise provides. This was thwarted by the fact that I was driving in fog so thick I couldn’t see two cars in front of me. I was further steamed to find that Google maps led me not to the correct park but a dead-end neighborhood across the bay. At the time of this publishing, Google has fixed this issue. You’re welcome.

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Slight curves make every turn an adventure!

After turning around and finding my way to the park proper, things started to look up. Firstly, there was no cost to get into the park (Yay!). Secondly, the fog lifted, leaving an overcast day which is still pretty good for photography. At least you’ll notice I’m not squinting in the most of the pictures. Thirdly, the boardwalk is easily found right by the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural & Natural History Center.

 

 

Screenshot_2016-01-21-15-26-46There are essentially two large loops that run through the mangroves. If you park at the visitor center that means that at some point you’re going to run back and forth over the connecting path from one loop to the other. I recommend looking at the boardwalk on Google Earth to get an idea of where the paths go. There is a map of the trails that is provided on site, but it is not particularly well detailed. I would recommend running the northern loop first then crossing down to the southern loop. It is on the southern loop that the second turn off leads you to an overlook tower. That is where the Runner’s World photo was taken and gives you a very dramatic photograph if you want your picture taken running through the mangroves. There are a great many varieties of wildlife all throughout the preserve. Do not be surprised if you startle a flock of birds and they stampede across your path.

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This location was very easy to run and very accessible. You can easily have a photographer stationed at the top of the overlook tower. The boardwalks are impeccably maintained so you really shouldn’the need to worry about loose boards or splinters. Have a great time and if you get you photo taken here drop me a line!

 

 

 

 

 

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Marathon Route #3: The Louisiana Marathon – Baton Rouge, LA

 

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I just want to see an alligator when I’m running.  It doesn’t need to be up close and personal. It can be down in the swamp while I’m above on a bridge.  It can be across the road or in a cage.  It can be a costume and be the wrong color.  I am tired of being warned about potential gators on signs, brochures, and insurance waivers.  I want a kinetic alligator experience (that doesn’t kill or maim me). Is this too much to ask?

Clearly it is, as I have yet to see an alligator in all the miles I have run.  In the end, it is probably a good thing because I can’t run any faster. I probably can, but I gave all I had for this race. I couldn’t help it.  I started off the day thinking “Take it easy, you have 48 more personal marathons this year!”. Right before sunrise I had convinced myself that I would keep the 5:30 pacer (that’s someone who is hired to run the specific pace of 5 hours and 30 minutes to help you cross the finish line) in view for the first two hours and then see what my body feels like.  By noon, I was thinking “Don’t Stop – You MUST PR – Keep Going!!!”.

Course Review

The beautiful and proud Louisiana Capital building sets a dramatic backdrop to the start and finish of this race. With blue skies, the pristine pale tower will match whatever running outfit you wear.  There is a feeling as you cross the starting line and pass by the massive classic government buildings in downtown, that you are Superman in the classic 50’s TV show.  All we needed was a traditional phone booth to run through and we should be able to launch ourselves into the heavens on the other side. I purposely was trying to slow down as I was not only excited by the adrenaline rush, I think the first mile of the course is a very slight downward slope.  Just after the first mile is the only hill on the course, an overpass that crosses the I-110.  You do cross back over it as you enter your final mile and fight the slight uphill to the finish but I promise you, if you do even the slightest hill training regiment, you will laugh all the way up and down that hill.  This course is so flat (How Flat Is It?), Columbus is going to try and sail around it. It is flatter than that last joke.  It is flat and fast and filled with water stations.

Aside from the 22 official water stations, neighbors were out in full force setting up there own party refreshment tables.  Someone must have published an article about what runners really want at a water station because these neighborhoods had it.  By saying they had it, I mean they had it all. Water, energy drinks, energy gels, chewable energy gels, Vaseline, Ibuprofen, band aids, sponges, sanitary napkins and moist towelettes were all standard fare. This was just the beginning!  Beer, sparkling beer, home made craft brews, Champagne, Mimosas, whiskey, moonshine, pancakes, little smokies, spray cheese on Ritz Crackers and candy bars galore were dotted around the course so if someone wanted to get plastered while they were running 26.2 miles they could.  They could rename this the longest neighborhood bar in North America.

A consistent course design I am seeing is that the first half of the marathon is always the sumptuous visual feast. After the downtown we toured around the LSU campus and stadium which certainly pumped up local fans with members of many of the college teams manning the support tables. This was followed by the BREC City-Brooks Community Park and runs around City Park Lake and University Lake. I am a sucker for water views and the breeze coming off the lake made it feel like we were flying. However, after the first 12 miles, we settled into nice, nondescript, suburban neighborhoods.  A cruise by the botanical gardens was tempting and hopefully could be added in future course adjustments.  Certainly, the spectators and neighbors kept us more than entertained but visually, it is disappointing to run so near the mighty Mississippi and not catch a glance. I would still highly recommend this course.

Lessons Learned

Keep Going Versus Don’t Stop

It has been pointed out to me before that “Keep Going” is a better mental attitude than “Don’t Stop”.  Even though we sometimes get to the point where something feels so good that we fear and know that at some point the ecstasy will end and we would do anything to keep that from happening, we are better off contemplating how to maintain or prolong that feeling than reinforcing the fear.  Although we know “Don’t Stop” is a double negative and balances itself out, our mind uses each word to reinforce itself. Don’t. Stop. Don’t. During the race, I kept thinking “This feels too good.  I shouldn’t be running this fast. I don’t believe I can keep this up the entire race.”  Sure enough, I started to slow down during miles 14 and 15 and  had fully downshifted by mile 16. I still shaved quite a bit of time off my best, but what if I had been thinking “This is great. I’ve got a lot of bounce in my step. I could run like this all day!”? Maybe, just maybe,  I could have stayed with the cool kids in the 5 Hour Pace group. Certainly, after 3-5 miles I should have just accepted my good fortune. In the end “Oh God, oh God, OH GOD!” is probably a good mantra.

Investing in Quality Compression

With temperatures starting in the low 40’s and staying there for the first half of the race, I wore my long compression pants and used my usual lubrication, BodyGlide.  Around mile 18 I was starting to feel a little chaffing and so went to readjust my leggings when “Skrrrrrip!” I felt the seam pop.  I readjusted and found a comfortable spot and promptly forgot about it until well after the race was done. This is the third pair of pants to rip in the past year and I really haven’t put that many miles into them.  I still have some cold races ahead so I need to do some research and protect my valuable assets.

Physical Review

I feel great!  Really!!! I remember how I felt in November after completing 3 marathon distances in a row and I do not feel the fatigue nor soreness that felt at that time.  Remarkably, I seem to be getting stronger.  The marathon isn’t getting easier, but I am finding my groove faster and maintaining it longer.  I must admit that the wardrobe malfunction I mentioned about my running pants caused a fairly substantial friction burn and so I have taken an extra day of rest with no running to give my nethers a chance to heal.  Hips, knees, and ankles feel great and my feet feel good but look ragged and desolated.  I will be applying some self love with a hand roller, some sandpaper, and a greenhouse full of aloe plants. Finally, I am feeling extremely confident. Although I was only able to keep up with the 5 hour pacer for the first 15 miles, I was able to maintain a decent pace to finish in 5:24 – a fourteen minute PR over last week. I’m over the moon. This week will bring some challenges where the weather will break as I move further north, finally contend with a route with hills, and go back to running this vast distance alone, but after the success of the last couple of weeks, I feel mentally and physically able to tackle Jackson, Mississippi. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons in Great Group Runs – Give Them Something To Look Forward To

This is the first in a series of articles meant to explore what makes certain running clubs effective at bringing together individuals with their own goals to support the larger running community. Each week will focus on one specialty of a running club local to a recent race.

It was early. Too early. It was so early it could be considered the late of the previous day. Also, I lived forty minutes away and need at least twenty minutes of prep time from the moment I wake to get out the door. So I woke at 4 am, pulled on my big boy runner shorts, laced up, grabbed a bottle of water and hit the road. Pulling into the parking lot, I could see a large group of excited runners limbering up in yellow shirts, checking their watches, and adjusting programs in their phones. Most, if not all, were far too social for this time of the morning.  What on earth got people up this early and this cheery on a Saturday morning? Time to wake up and smell the burning rubber.

Thus began my first visiting group run with FIT (Friends In Training). From the moment I contacted them, I knew this would be a friendly and immersive club. My best friend in Fort Lauderdale, Danielle Sylvester, let me know about this group and how they had supported friends of hers in their quests to complete half marathons and marathons. My initial contact was with the head coach Marcela Todd.  She was immediately receptive to me joining the group but expected me to contribute.  Not only did I need to run with the group, but I was expected to talk at one of their after run seminars about my 50/50/50 plan and how I envisioned that going. Talk about diving in head first!

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Head Coach Marcella Todd & I power popping our hips after a run.

I thought I had gotten to the park early for my group, but then everybody was all ready to take off.  It turns out that the group leaving was the 1:1 group, they were running one minute and walking one minute.  The runners are broken up into different groups based upon their overall pace.  Each group then has two to three coaches who are there to support the high pace, middle and low pace of that level. There were many levels and you could switch whenever you felt you needed to change.  They staggered the timing of the levels so that everybody ends at around the same time. It was incredibly effective.  I was scheduled to run with the 3:1 group.  I must admit I was a little nervous as I watched the bubbly and vivacious 1:1’s run off into the distance.  Would I be fast enough for the 3:1’s, would I hold them back?  I shouldn’t have worried.

 

 

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“One of these things is not like the others…”

 

Immediately after the 1:1’s took off, 3:1’s started pulling in and getting out of their cars. I wasn’t dressed in the official bright yellow shirt, but I was in typical runner gear and they had been forewarned. The assistant coaches for that group Denise and Lisa introduced themselves and started taking roll call of their runners.  It was explained that the group was a little light due to the holidays, but I was still impressed with the people willing to haul themselves out of bed at this time.  Checking the time and their people one last time, our fearless leaders started us off, the beeps and tweets of everybody syncing their watches sounding like we had rustled a pack of wild Floridian parrots out of their roosts.

 

 

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Coach Lisa triumphantly belting the final stanza as I fake a picture to take a breath

As I said, I shouldn’t have been worried about the run.  Marcela had asked me specific questions to be certain which group would fit my needs. We all fell into a natural rhythm and the pack began to stretch out based upon our own comfortable pace.  I ended up running towards the front of the pack with Lisa and some other focused runners.  Lisa expertly kept us at a conversational pace while making sure we took our prescribed rest periods and stayed on course for the day’s goal of 10 miles.  There was a happy and positive atmosphere the entire run culminating with us belting out Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer over the 17th Street Causeway Bridge (remind me to not belt falsetto when running up the only incline on a course, whew!)

Lesson Learned: Give Them Something To Look Forward To!

There were many great benefits about running with FIT, but the one thing that people got most excited about was the big running trip at the end of the program. Not only was the schedule mapped out for participants to build up their stamina and strength in training, their schedules also included local race dates with appropriate distances throughout the training (10ks halfway through for the half marathoners, Half Marathons halfway through the marathon training.)  Each runner had their own goal races, but everybody was excited about the travel race that was scheduled at the end of the 6-8 month program.  The previous year had been an excursion to Alaska which many members still talked and laughed about. This sessions trip to New Orleans has everybody ramped up, even the people who can’t go.  I’ve said this before, sometimes the visualization and planning of a goal can be as satisfying as seeing it completely through.  The final travel race gives everybody a shared vision and it is a powerful motivator.

Thanks to all my new friends at Friends In Training for making me feel like I was part of your group and being so supportive of my first talk on tour.  I look forward to running with you next year and sharing all the lessons we learned in 2016.

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Stretching at the end of the run before the seminar.

 

Marathon Route #2: First Light Marathon – Mobile, Alabama

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They say in Maine, if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’s bound to change. This was definitely my experience here on the Gulf Coast. Getting into Gulf Shores, Alabama on Friday, it was warm but overcast. The temperature dropped 20 degrees over the next two days, including a 5 degree drop during the race. Still, better than running in the ice and snow typical of January in Maine, however it was 46 degrees in Mobile at Race Time and 49 degrees in Maine.  Wonders never cease.

I need to state, for the record, that any review contained herein may be slightly biased as I set an official PR (Personal Record – Personal Best’s abbreviation always makes me want to add a J at the end) for myself.  I started the race going around my usual pace, but the camaraderie and competitive spirit of having others around me drove me just a little bit faster.  Before I knew it, I was two hours in and feeling as strong as if I had I just started. So then I decided to keep it up for another hour.  I started to feel a little weary by the fourth hour, but by that time I already had some good miles under my belt.  By the time I saw five hours on my watch, even with my limited math capabilities, I realized I was a short haul away from a personal record. At this time I still do not have official results, but my previous Marathon PR was 5:56:01 – Burlington, VT in 2013.  Yesterday my watch shows a net time of 5:38:45.

Course Review

This is a big city marathon with a small town feel.  Firstly, my wallet and I were very pleased with the low entry fee, I believe it was $60 up til five months in advance.  Most half marathons are charging more than that.  Secondly, downtown is easy to navigate, both on foot and as I was doing the pregame drive around the course.  Parking was easy and free in many areas specifically for the race weekend. Thirdly, water stations were plentiful.  By plentiful, I mean there were twenty official stops and some of the neighborhoods set up their own.  I had my water belt on, but only used it to rinse after an energy chew. The water stations were well stocked and courteous but only one really went out of their way to spruce things up with costumes and coordinated colors that evoked the Mardi Gras feel the city has at the time of the race.  All the people at the water stations made up for a surprising lack of spectators. I can’t blame the locals, it was a chilly and damp morning with a cold sun breaking through in afternoon. Lastly, for those with aversions to hills, this was a relatively flat course, with only two major hills that were only mildly steep climbs.  The last five miles are downhill or flat.

If you enjoy architecture, this is a great city race to run due to the wide variety of neighborhoods we ran through, each with their own flavor.  From cigar box shacks to plantation like mansions, all the homes were easily on display, not hidden behind towering fences or impenetrable shrubs.  Greenery highlights included the Mobile National Cemetery, University of Southern Alabama, Mobile Botanical Gardens, and Spring Hill College.  These were, for me, the prettiest part of the course.  It was somewhat disappointing not to have any water views in a city so well known as a port city.  The final stretch is right up Dauphine Street with it’s bars and restaurants and classic theaters.  To finish there was a hearty meal of redbeans and rice with sweet cornbread and giant peanut butter cookies.  There was also a great blues band playing in the park. I give this marathon 8 out of 10 stars.

Lessons Learned

Volunteers: I need to start notifying the running groups in upcoming towns before I get there to try and generate some interest in running with me.  Especially after Baton Rouge, I have four cities where I am running the route alone. I now realize that even more important than race support (fluids, change of clothes) is someone to get me through the boring parts of a course and perhaps push me a little bit harder.

Host Family Invites: I must make sure I specifically invite the host family to come and watch and cheer.  Some don’t realize how exciting it can be to watch a race until they do it and realize that all the runners appreciate a kind word out on the course and remember a friendly face that kept them putting one foot in front of the other.

Change of Clothes: I was so close with this one.  Had the bag packed, but forgot to put it in the car. Fortunately I had a spare shirt in the back seat and what a difference it makes.  Even without a shower, a clean shirt made me feel fresher and looser than the sweaty run shirt clinging to my body. I must bring a full change of clothes before I get in the car to drive back to my host family.

Physical Review

Still feeling great! During the run my body performed pretty well up until Mile 23. I did too much walking at that point and found it difficult to restart a run.  I will say that the chest cold medicine I took after an hour on the road had probably already worn off because I was finding it difficult to take deep breaths towards the end.  Deep breaths help center me and give me a yoga like tranquility to run when it gets difficult and so this was an issue last week and certainly didn’t help at the end of the race this week. I have a two fairly large blisters on my right foot and my left hip was feeling a little wonky this morning, but after some stretches feels right as rain.  Excited and ready for the Louisiana Marathon next week!

 

 

Marathon Route # 1: Fort Lauderdale A1A

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Coming from Maine’s arctic northern climes, I know many of my friends would be immensely happy to shed their layers of flannel and down to bask in the heat and humidity of Fort Lauderdale. Not me. I was looking forward to a Florida winter which feels like New England’s September – cooler evenings, clear, bright sunny days. Even locals were walking around asking the redundant “Hot enough for you?”. During Christmas, it was jungle hot. People who wore traditional holiday outfit melted like snowmen in a sauna. Rumors circulated by local weatherman said the weekend would be cooler, but a quick 7 mile jaunt on Saturday left me completely soaked after the first mile. What I am saying is, if you are not used to running in the heat make sure you do some training where you simulate the hot, oppressive conditions. Run with extra layers. Move the treadmill into the steam room. Spend weekends doing your long runs at the equator.

I chose the Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon as my first marathon because it feels like a home court advantage. I lived in Fort Lauderdale on and off for 8 years and I have run and biked most of this route multiple times. I still have friends and family who live in the area. Starting my trek in the New Year allowed me to spend the holidays with my sister and her beautiful family as well as my dad and his wife (because grandparents go where the babies are – amIright?) If I wasn’t going to do my first marathon in my Maine backyard, Fort Lauderdale is the next best thing.

COURSE REVIEW
This is my review of the course only. This marathon has so much more going for it than the course itself. Fort Lauderdale is a fantastic vacation destination especially in the winter months. This is a well supported race, lots of volunteers, terrific community support, and the number one ranked racing medal with a locket built into the medal. Of course, I enjoyed running the beach. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park was a great break, especially as I ran the park near the end of the Marathon since the it wasn’t open when I initially would have passed through. However, the 11 miles along A1A is gruelingly boring. The road is great. If you are running on the sidewalk, the sidewalk is great. Once you leave the Fort Lauderdale Beach, it’s tough to to see the ocean. You get a little time when passing by massive construction sites (which will eventually be skyscraping resorts which block the view), a little burst as you cruise by Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and a soupchon of sea view as you enter Pompano Beach. Otherwise, you are running by motels on the west side of the road, hotels on the east, mall Plaza sprawl that mostly all looks the same, and a sprinkling of classic Floridian tourist trap spots, sadly fading into the past. It just seems so cruel to be so close to the beach, and yet so far. If you ever feel like a racecar when you are running, that part of the course might attract you, but at my horse and buggy pace this part of the course felt like watching Amish paint dry.

LESSONS LEARNED
1. Parking and Returning to My Car
There are all kinds of course design, many of which do not create a perfect loop. On courses where I’m not running the official race, I need to dedicate much more research into getting back to my car from the finish line. There is a possibility of hosts helping out or perhaps a volunteer from a local running group. Certainly relying on taxis could end up costing a good dealnmore than I expected. When looking at parking options, I need to be aware of maximum times allocated to the parking space. As I went to park on the morning of the marathon, I read the parking meter in detail only to find that there was a maximum 6 hour limit. At 5 a.m. in the morning, my choices became limited. Fortunately, I did not receive a ticket this time. Lesson learned.
2. Heat Training
Although I have tried a number of tools for hydration, I was not prepared for the building heat that started to shut me down. I had plenty to drink and lots of electrolyte replacement, but I started to feel my body temperature rise around mile 19. Luckily, there is Publix right alongside the route, so I stopped in, bought a refrigerated bottle of water and walked around the cooler section for about five minutes. It didn’t help that I had a chest cold during the run. It made it difficult to breath and probably caused my body to work harder while fighting the infection. My concern is with marathons I’ll be running this summer. I will need to start training my body to deal better with the heat.
3. Volunteer Opportunities
I already have friends and supporters offering to assist me on the trail and others are sure to join. I need to make sure that when I am driving the course, I am looking for places where volunteers can safely cheer or replenish my liquids. I can’t expect them to interpret race maps the same way I do. They certainly won’t know where I need to make changes in the course due to construction or areas that are off limits. I need to have information that is clear and helpful.

Physical Review
I am feeling great! Chaffing is healing quickly. During the run, I experienced some discomfort in my left ankle and right knee. After the race, my back was sore from losing my form in the burning sun. However, after a nice cold shower, some ibuprofen, and a good night’s rest, my body is feeling ready to do this again next week. Hopefully the cooler air and the elimination of this chest cold will help make this next marathon a better experience.

2016 – Let The Adventure Begin

Letting the days go by

Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by
Water flowing underground

Once In A Lifetime, Talking Heads

2015, I hardly knew ye. No, seriously where did 2015 go?!? Every time I try to review the last year in my head, this Talking Heads song pops into it. I know I got things done. I made a paycheck, I trained my butt off, I healed my heart. I remember events from all four seasons but it hardly seems like there were 365 days. Maybe, instead of a Leap Year and adding a day, we had a Bound Year and lost a month? Seems only fair. If we combine Daylight Savings Time’s “Spring Forward, Fall Back” with Paula Abdul’s “Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back”, celestialy we lose a month every quarter century? I don’t know. This seems like one of the word problems I should’ve worked harder on in Math Class.

Here we are January 1st, 2016: Day 1 of The 50/50/50 Project and it’s a rest day. Seems a bit anticlimactic, I know, but everything in it’s time. Instead, we will start the New Year by volunteering at Greater Fort Lauderdale Road Runner’s 15th Annual Resolution 5K. A good day to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at a road race and how organizations make the magic happen. I’ll probably be standing around, using my big mouth to cheer on the runners and maybe help lift some boxes.

What can you expect from this blog in 2016? You can expect a minimum of 4 posts a week. Monday or Tuesday will be a Marathon Recap. Wednesday or Thursday will be a recap of a State or National Park Run. Fridays will be a personal status update, talking about how things are going with the project or myself and Saturdays will be Local Days, highlighting local running groups and volunteer opportunities.

This past week went by so quickly. Family and the holidays took priority but I also started to ramp back up my training, necessary with the increased heat and humidity. Midday at times has felt cooler with the sun burning off the moisture. The mornings and evenings are incredibly muggy, drenching my running gear in sweat despite minimally cooler temperatures. I’m glad I had so much time to try and readjust my body. That and a child borne chest infection have given me much to consider as I attempt this first Marathon Route on Sunday. I plan on starting early to keep out of the sun as much as possible. I will going a little slower than I originally planned to accommodate the heat and the lower December training mileage. I was feeling a little nervous, but a great 10 mile training run with a local group, FIT (Friends In Training) last Saturday, calmed me down and brought me back into my training groove.

I wish in the new year that you and I don’t let a single day “float” by. I hope that every day, you can feel the impact you make on other’s lives. I pray that every day, you are surrounded by love and support and the knowledge that you can survive and thrive no matter what life throws at you. I wish that 2016 will be a banner year for you and me and the world at large. Watch out 2016 – here we come!