Monday, April 23, 2018

Exit Strategy

I have never thought about an exit strategy from running. While reading the March issue of Ultrarunning Magazine, Errol "Rocket" Jones had a piece about an exit strategy called Exit Stage Left.  In many companies that I have worked in, particularly start-ups, there has always been an exit strategy, whether it is to go public, be bought by another company, or to have an exit strategy of not exiting at all, continuing to grow, to serve and be better with age. There are generally two motivating factors as to which strategy to follow, money or ego.

The same might hold true for elite runners. Being an older mid-pack runner, there are many reasons to exit. Our aging bodies slow us down. health issues and aching bodies may present a challenge, motivation wanes, it takes longer to recover. None of these things has had me think about an exit strategy. Its made me think about managing expectations, managing my runs, and managing my health. So, it is all about managing oneself. At 58, relatively speaking, I am running better than I have in many years. It would be difficult for me to think about exiting and nearly impossible to actually do it. I'm sure that day will come but I think it will hit me all at once.

Some companies try to be more than they are and think they are more valuable than they are. I run the way I can and the way I am. I can't think that I am an elite runner when I'm simply not. But within the context of where I am in life, I can be the best I can be. In March, I ran 3 half-marathons three weekends in a row. For the first time in nearly 25 years of running, I pulled in two age group awards with some seriously good runs. My age-graded times were better than my pure times when I was younger.

Some people want to exit when they are on the top of their games.I just want to be in the game as long as I can. I have been through the valleys where I could have easily hung up the running shoes. I have also run well enough, in quantity or quality, where I could say, it's enough, I've reached my goal and its time to exit. Running, particularly races are great because there are age groups. Every five years, you are the youngest in your age group. We not only get to reset our expectations, but we can be rejuvenated and drive past the exit ramp.

We need to look for more entrance ramps, maybe even entrance strategies to keep us going and motivated as opposed to exit strategies; new distances, volunteering, age-graded times, new events, new states, new countries anything that keeps us int he game, the one that has given our life meaning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The 100

This is not about the TV show for those of you who did a google search for "the 100". This post is about a lot of things, mostly related to running but not necessarily all. The post title "the 100" is related to having completed my 100th marathon in 2017 and I will get to that in a bit. It's been since May that I have written a post and frankly I miss writing. Its been a tumultuous year and yet I still find running my road to sanity through it all. I won't get into my political angst and will save that for Twitter as the cesspool becomes murkier and smellier than ever. I'll internalize the professional challenges after yet another acquisition brought down one of the best companies and teams that I have worked for. And personally, I just try to do the right thing in all circumstances.

I have enjoyed the variety of running this year; different distances, trail and road, forests and cities. I haven't run well in marathons, been OK on the trails, but have faired quite well in half-marathons. And yes, I reached a major milestone in completing marathon 100. I never really set out to run 100 marathons, frankly never thought about it until after completing running a marathon in all 50 states and DC in 2015. Kauai was marathon 89 and the completion of all 50 states and it put me to the test. Read the story here. Running for me has been: set a goal, achieve a goal, evaluate new goals, repeat. Once I finished the 50 states and was so close to 100 marathons, that became my new goal. Two years and 11 marathons later, marathon 100 was in the books. Again, more about that in a bit.


The singlet and the bib


Racing in 2017

Race Date Distance Result
Lakeside Trail Race, NC 1/14/2017 15M 3:03:01
Salem Lake Frosty Trail 25K, NC 1/21/2017 25K 2:27:40
Race 13.1 Wilmington, NC 2/19/2017 Half Marathon 1:59:24
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Trail Half, NC 2/25/2017 Half Marathon 2:31:41
Tobacco Road Half Marathon, NC 3/19/2017 Half Marathon 1:56:42
Raleigh Rock n Roll Marathon, NC 4/2/2017 Marathon 4:33:02
Western Maryland Rail Trail Half, MD 4/9/2017 Half Marathon 1:55:08
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, OH 5/7/2017 Marathon 4:38:17
Sioux Falls Marathon, SD 9/10/2017 Marathon 5:17:17
Steamtown Marathon, PA 10/8/2017 Marathon 5:29:48
Baltimore Marathon, MD 10/21/2017 Marathon 5:14:36
Skinny Turkey Half, NC 11/23/2017 Half Marathon 1:57:25
Race 13.1 Durham, NC 12/9/2017 Half Marathon CANC

In 2017, I completed 12 events, 3 trail races (2 technical trails), 10 road races, 5 half marathons and 5 marathons. Over the past few years, I have observed some interesting trends but also things I have known from past experiences. Plainly, I train better in the winter and run better in the spring. It's much worse training in the summer heat and humidity which affects September/October races, then November/December races seem to be better. It's somewhat obvious because runners generally like it cooler/colder for training and races. The heat and humidity are oppressive in North Carolina and getting long runs in during July - September is quite difficult.


The Winter

Lakeside Trail Race

This was a nice low key event in the woods around Lake Townsend. The trails are lightly technical. This was my first trail race in awhile so I was stepping a bit gingerly over the roots and rocks. They have an 8 and 15-mile course.


Looks like an ultra


The trail got more technical


Salem Lake Frosty 50K/25K

This is a well-done race and features a 4 loop 50K, two-loop 25K and a relay. It is also totally runnable on a wide crushed gravel trail with some greenway. Its well-supported and a beautiful venue. I've run both the 50K and 25K. Shawn visited and ran a great 25K as well.


Love this sight before a trail race



This is part of the RACE 13.1 series, generally a good series of races, particularly the North Carolina ones. This course is pancake flat and fast. I paced with the 2-hour group for about 11.5 miles and slightly went ahead to finish about 30 seconds under 2 hours. Cindy completed her first 10K. I was really proud of her!



Cindy's first 10K finish!


Squeaking in under 2 hours


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF) Trail Half Marathon


I enjoyed this half on a technical trail with two small river crossings, almost knee deep water. The race was postponed a few minutes due to a horrid rain/thunderstorm, yes, even in February, and the temperature was near 70.


Waggin' Wild 5K

This is one of my favorite events having participated in it the last two years. Casey has run it in about a 9:45 minute pace. More importantly, he has won largest dog participating two years in a row.  This year Gabby and Cindy ran as well. So, it was a family affair.


Our running family

Mama and Gabby finishing!

Daddy and Casey finishing!

Good boy! Who loves ya?

Tobacco Road Half Marathon

Arguably my favorite event of the year, not because what I did, but because Cindy completed her first half marathon and I was so proud of her for the training, the excitement, how well she did, everything about it. Frankly, it was a glorious day. You can read about it all here.



Ring the bell baby doll!


Two half marathon finishers!


The Spring

Raleigh Rock n Roll Marathon


Oddly, this marathon was my best of the year. Its a difficult course, unrelenting hills but my racing prior helped build strength and endurance, particularly on the trails and then speed in the two half marathons.  Although I am not a huge fan o Rock n Roll events, this one is well-done. Although we live just 20 minutes from Raleigh, we stayed the weekend in Raleigh and had a good time visiting the Museum of Natural History, Crankarm Brewery and some downtown restaurants.


If I had a child


Yep, that's a mess of a course!


Crankarm Brewery day before Rock n Roll!


Visiting Museum of Natural History


Sir Walter Raleigh deck out for Rock n Roll!


Start running toward the Capitol!


Welcome to Raleigh


Shining bright!


Thumbs up at the finish!


Red Hat Amphitheatre

Western Maryland Rail Trail Half Marathon

Only a week after Raleigh, I ran a fine half marathon on a cold but beautiful day in April. Being in Hancock, MD, Shawn ran this one as well. He blazed the course. Its an out and back course on the rail trail.


Brothers in arms and two great finishes.


Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon

 It's quite the party atmosphere with this running festival and its a fun course with plenty of spectators. It was my 4th pig and ran an OK time relative to what I would run the rest of the year. The rest of the family also did some event from the kid's runs to the 5K.

After Cincinnati, I had my sights set on marathon 100. I wasn't sure beginning the year when or even if I would get to 100 in 2017. I looked and looked at schedules to see how I could get this done. If planned correctly, I could make Baltimore my 100th marathon and since I have run all 16 previous Baltimore marathons, it being sort of local to my hometown in Maryland, and a nice party atmosphere, I figured out a schedule to get me there. Then, I asked the marketing VP at Corrigan sports to help me secure bib 100 to commemorate the accomplishment. I was able to have bib 50 running my 50th marathon on my 50th birthday in New Orleans and also to have Bib 50 finishing my 50th state in Hawaii. Bib 100 would be a nice addition to the family.


Charlie, Becky, and Bree at the 5K start


The twins and me high-fiving runners who happened to be Bree!


A family affair finish - Grandma finished too but she's taking the picture!


Korrey, Jaxon, and Bree at the Reds' stadium


Piglet dash Jaxon, Korrey and Charlie


Jaxon and Korrey with their medals


The big boy's race - at the start with Cynthia


Attention!


26.2 miles makes one thirsty for beer!



The Summer Safari

In between all the running, we went to Africa on Safari - a trip of a lifetime still etched in our minds. It was a two-week safari in Tanzania - Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Serengeti - for Cindy's 60th birthday in June. It deserves not only a post but a book. I did make two short movies and need to finish a third. Tarangire movie. Ngorongoro movie. There are 4,000 pictures. Here are just a few.



When you think of an African sunset!


Selfie with elephants?


This fellow was none too happy!


Love this shot of the wildebeest


King and queen of the grassland!


Poser!


Home away from home


On the prowl


Monkey see monkey do!


A family affair


He didn't roar, only growled!


Here's to ya, my friend!


Wildebeest with no purpose in mind!


Sunset in Tarangire


Hey Babs!


Just please let me sleep in this tree!


Maasai


Waiting for dinner


Yawn!


Cheetahs not to be preyed upon but looking for prey


It's a long way down to drink water


These tusks are mine, not yours!


eye for an eye


pride on  the watch


The Fall


The problem with early fall marathons is doing the training through the heat and humidity of summer, especially in North Carolina. I don't do well running in humidity. As much as I made the effort to get longer quality runs in, it was just abysmal. I knew that these next couple of marathons were going to suffer, more likely I was going to suffer and suffer I did. I was hoping to use Sioux Falls and Steamtown as my long runs focusing on Baltimore for a better time. It just didn't pan out that way.


Sioux Falls Marathon

I was quite pleased with the entire Sioux Falls experience from visiting the city to running the marathon. The falls are absolutely amazing which is a must to visit but the course runs through the area as well. Its a mix of roads and greenway trails has an indoor start/finish, and a hotel adjacent to the expo and start/finish. The weather was warmer than normal but less humidity. It was comfortable but without the good long runs in the summer, I struggled after mile 19. The only downside was that there was no food or beverage left when I finished, just water.


Sioux Falls in Sioux Falls


Our names, and every other runner's name on this truck!


Start/Finish indoors


All ready for a 5K


Running through Sioux Falls


Crossing the Big Sioux River


Crossing the Big Sioux river 23 miles away


Finally but no food and beverage left!


Two finishers!


Pretty on pretty!

Steamtown Marathon

I have wanted to do this marathon in Scranton, PA for some time but it never worked out. Both Cindy and I have a lot of history, separately, in this area of the country so it was fun going back to visit. Although this year's race was only two weeks before Baltimore, I thought that it would be another good long run. Steamtown has a net elevation drop of 944 feet and reading the reports, the course can do a number on your quads. Its a point to point course and requires a bus ride up the mountain to the start but the finish and bus pickup are in the center of Scranton and near hotels. It was raining for the entire bus ride and right up until the cannon. However, the staging is in a high school so everyone was kept dry. Now, for the weather. You would think Scranton, the first week of October would be nice and cool. Nope, not this year. It was the steamiest Steamtown in the history of the race, 70 at the 7 AM start, very humid and near 80 with the sun at the finish. It was an ugly day for me. I felt done at about mile 9, not good in a marathon. It was in my bottom 5 marathons time-wise. I must say, the spread of food at the end was the best I've seen. Its a really well-organized event with a really funny assistant race director.


Yes, we attended a Paranormal Conference at the Hotel

What would Steamtown be without steam locomotives?


Steamtown National Historic Park


Electric trolly ide from the national historic site


Black bear was seen from the electric trolly


Built on the John Oliver Show and sent to Scranton - too funny!


The black and white


Finally to the finish - fantastic food!


Looking for Cynthia Anne


You talkin' to me?

Cindy's house once upon a time in Clarks Summit


A neighbor Cindy ran into at a diner who was a child when she lived in Clarks Summit

Baltimore Marathon

...which brings me to my 100th marathon, 99 marathons since Baltimore 2001, the inaugural, and with my first being in New York City, 1994, an even 100 marathons. Of course, I have also completed 8 ultras so for the 26.2+ mile distance, the total is 108.

Why Baltimore? Throughout my 17 year adventure, not including my first NYC marathon, Baltimore has been a staple on my marathon calendar having run all 17.  I have had some great Baltimore marathons (3:47:33 in 2006) and some horrible ones (5:14:36 in 2017), It has always been a festive event, hence, why it is called the Baltimore Running Festival. Corrigan Sports always does a great job every year tweaking the event to make it better. This year was probably the most drastic moving the finish line to Pratt Street and the celebration village to the inner harbor. There have always been course tweaks. Another reason I chose Baltimore was it being in my home state and my father being born in Baltimore. I was also able to secure bib number 100 working with the VP of Marketing at Corrigan. It was very much appreciated that he was able to secure that number.

The weekend started with our traditional lunch at Pratt Street Alehouse, this year with Shawn and Rene. They have great food and cask conditioned ales and outdoor seating. It's a nice way to start the weekend. The expo was its normal medium size and held across the street at the convention center. It was nice to see the bib number given to me. The volunteer giving it to me said, "that's a nice round number." I said, "yeah, for my 100th marathon..." People sometimes give you the "dog look" where their head cocks to one side when you say things like this. We walked around the harbor a bit after the expo, chilled int he room and then had dinner at Sotto Sopra.

The weather, unfortunately, looked like it was going to be warm again, 60's and 70's. That again didn't bode well for me. I wore my new North America 100 club singlet and after pinning on bib 100, it brought the reality to what I had accomplished. Wearing the singlet lead to a lot of conversations during the run. Many other runners asked how many I had run and telling them that today was my 100th and showing them bib 100, they let out big congratulations, amazement, astonishment, craziness. It was the most people I had spoken to while running a marathon over my last 99. From that perspective, it made for a great day.

From an actual running perspective, I ran really well through the first half running 2:07 but I just couldn't hold it together past mile 18 or so. I saw Cindy at mile 9 and Cindy, Rene and Shawn at mile 13. I think I was still on track for a 4:30 finish through 20 miles. I was skeptical that the finish would not be as cool as finishing between Camden Yards and Ravens stadium. I was wrong. I enjoyed running down Pratt street to the finish. The last two miles are mostly downhill to finish at the inner harbor. Cindy greeted me as she always does and we hung out at the promenade for a bit exploring the new set-up. Later that evening we celebrated with a nice meal at Capital Grille. Frankly, it was a bit anti-climactic. I've always imagined big parties, sharing running stories with friends, celebrations but that has never been me. Yes, there have been some nice blog posts about my adventures, Facebook kudos, etc but never the true celebration of running all these events. I will change that by doing something with my medals, bibs, mementos, and blog posts. Its been a great adventure and its not over yet. Hopefully, I can still do these kinds of things until my heart says, "no more."


Thank you, Chris Tomlinson, for securing bib 100 for me!


The Baltimore skyline


Thank you, Shawn and Rene, for being there for my 100th!

And of course Cynthia Anne for my 100th and last 50 marathons!!

Dinosaurs are not extinct in Baltimore!



Start



Mile 8.75 and still running strong!


Cool crab shell medal


Mayor of Baltimore - Photo Op!


The lights of the inner harbor


Rejoice, finally, 100 marathons!


Skinny Turkey Half Marathon

With the awful fall marathons, time-wise, I really wasn't sure how Skinny Turkey was going to go. It's a challenging, hilly course and I was going to be happy with a 2:05, even a 2;10. It was not to be. It was much better than I anticipated due to some fine pacing. Over the past couple of years, I have paced in half marathons with the 2-hour groups and generally have been able to finish 1 to 5 minutes faster than 2 hours. It's the one distance that I still feel fairly confident in. I wasn't planning on running with the pace group at Skinny Turkey. I just happened to be around them, felt pretty good running with them and stayed with them for the first 4 miles. Then I decided to move ahead a bit, much earlier than normal. as I did, a young lady, who turned out to be 22, went with me. Without saying a word, but knowing we were running together and pacing off of one another, we ran the next five miles at an average pace of about 8:38. I really didn't think I could keep the pace at times but we sort of drove one another to the pace. But, at mile 9, I fell back a bit and lost her pace. I still maintained a decent pace on the remaining 4 miles of hills and finished in 1:57:25. I was so happy with that run. It validated my hot weather issues since the temperature that day was in the 30s and 40s. I saw the young lady after the finish and we chatted a bit. She finished in 1:54:53 and she said that I was a really good pacer. But truly, it went both ways, we were good pacers to each other. The ironic thing in this finish is that I got 2nd in my age group out of 15, only my 2nd age group award and first in a half marathon. The irony was in the fact that since I never win age group awards, I left before the awards were announced. Maybe I should start sticking around!


Fine run on Turkey Day!


Race 13.1 Durham

I was really looking forward to this race since I hadn't broken 2 hours on this course yet. It has its hills but nothing harder than Skinny Turkey. However, due to "winter precipitation", the event was canceled. I put that in quotes because it means something different here in North Carolina.


What's Next?

So that's my year in running. For 15 years, I was trying to get to all 50 states and DC marathons and then for two more years trying to get to 100 marathons. Missions complete! Now what? first, I am free to run what and when I want except for running the Baltimore marathon every year. I may go to the 10 provinces in Canada. I have one and considering Ottawa this year. I may go for 100 half marathons. I have 39. How about another trip around the states? I have 15. How about 2 more ultras to get to 10? How about different distances? 100K, 100 miles, 24 hours, 12 hours? How about international besides Canada? How about a coaching certificate from RRCA? How about pacing? How about volunteering at races? How about working with new runners? How about a food truck called Runners Thoughts or In The Moment Running serving up light food and beverage at races or training areas? How about writing a kids book on running?


Geez, I guess there is still a lot to do!