Friday, April 20, 2012

Boston Or Bust?

This past Monday (April 16, 2012) brought runners from around the world to the Mecca of Marathoning. It was Patriots Day in the New England states, but to athletes, that local holiday is better known as Marathon Monday. It was the 116th Running of the Boston Marathon.

Many runners set qualifying for Boston as a life-goal. It’s admirable and something that, once achieved, you have bragging rights in to posterity. In my current age division, I would have to run a sub-3:07 marathon to even have the right to apply for participation. Because of my goals and my approach to run “for the fun of it,” I laugh at the idea of that ever happening. Qualifying is an achievement that I don’t know that I will personally ever obtain … unless I keep my current marathon pace until I reach my 75th birthday.

With that being said, I have had the privilege of running the Boston Marathon twice as an official participant. Fortunately, my position of employment combined with respectable marathon finish times at other races allowed me access to take the road from Hopkinton to Copley Square in 2010 and 2011. Some would call it a “perk of the job.” I would agree with that statement, and still wear my blue and yellow finisher’s jacket with pride; however, that pride comes with an asterisk.

Honestly, I felt (and still feel at times) my place at the start line diminished by the “less traditional” method I took to get to Boston. I was a mere mortal in the midst of supermen and women as I toed the line at the master of Marathon Masters Race. Nevertheless, the runs in 2010 and 2011 are very special race experiences to me for many reasons. In 2010, my best friend was able to come and support me for the first time at a race, and it was where she caught the running bug (she’s since quit a pack-a-day habit, dropped countless lbs, just finished her 11th half-marathon, and has NYC as her first full on the horizon in November). I was also able to run in the wake of some of the most talented marathoners of our generation, and was present when  Ryan Hall ran the 2011 race in the fastest ever American marathon time (2:04:55) for a 4th place overall finish. Also, experiencing the screams of Wellesley College Girls, the drunken frat boys of Boston College, running past Fenway and the Citgo sign … all memories that I can’t believe I was able to take in. Given an opportunity, I can’t wait to take them in again one day.

One thing I have realized in my experience is that you don’t have to be an “elite” marathon runner to experience the same euphoria that comes with a Boston Marathon bib. Runners who “run to finish” or correctly state “there’s no such thing as losing in a race with yourself” can still obtain a runner’s high by participating in another race with even greater memorable moments. When planning your fall and winter race schedule, here’s a list of races in which I’ve participated, and which don’t have the strenuous qualifying standards of Boston:

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Runners and walkers of all skill levels can participate in 5k, half, and/or full marathon distances. The South Florida weather is almost always perfect the first weekend in January, the medals for each race are incredible, photo opportunities with characters throughout the race make the miles fly by, and the Goofy Challenge (run both the Half and Full Marathon in the same weekend) all make the weekend special for the whole family. As a consecutive three-time Goofy finisher, this race is a must-do every year.

Marine Corps Marathon – I have my marathon PR on this course, so I may be biased. The race takes a historic route through the Capital City and around many of our nation’s most notable monuments. In addition, every water stop is manned by enlisted servicemen and women from the Marines. Their cheers of encouragement make you forget the pain of 26.2 miles. If finishing at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington Cemetery isn’t enough, your medal is placed around your neck by a Marine who congratulates you and thanks you for your participation. It’s incredibly emotional and rewarding, and again touts a field of participants in every shape and size. Once more, registration is open to first-come first-served, and sells out in hours.

The San Francisco Marathon – Both half and full marathon options are available, and runners can choose which “half” of the race they want to run (the first 13.1 miles of the full course, or the latter half). The first half and full runners get to run out and back across the Golden Gate bridge on the only day during the year where the street is scheduled for closure. The second half and full runners get to explore Golden Gate State Park, follow in the path of the Grateful Dead, run by the World Champion Giant’s Stadium, and finish under the Bay Bridge.

Rock’n’Roll New Orleans – In my book, there’s nothing like a hometown race. Plus, seeing St. Charles Avenue, the French Quarter, the Lakefront, and City Park from a runner’s perspective doesn’t compare to the quick glimpses locals usually get from a car. Plus, a race where family and friends can come out to greet you along the course helps make the race that much more fun.

The Louisiana Marathon – Again, a hometown-ish race allows for running with friends. Plus, the first year experience was so superb for this “small town race,” I can’t wait to see what they bring out for 2013 to top it.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Another one of the Marathon Masters races, this race brings out the elite of marathon running. Its open to first-come first-served participants, and everyone is welcome to participate regardless of skill level. Running along the magnificent mile and seeing every part of the Windy City makes this race unforgettable, causing the registration to sell out fast.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CCC10K: The 2012 Recap

On the list of things I know I shouldn’t do the night before a race, number one is now “Stay up past 2 a.m. to finish the first book in ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy.” It’s not something I’m proud of, but I decided to jump on the Katniss bandwagon two days before the 2012 Crescent City Classic … and damn it, that thing is a page turner. Regardless, that’s what happens when you leave me to my own devices for entertainment on a Friday night … and boy, did I pay for it race morning.

Friday, April 6, 2012

CCC10K: 2012 Coverage

For the past 4 weeks I have been writing non-stop about the 2012 edition of the Crescent City Classic 10K race. Well, Saturday is the day we’ve all been waiting for. It is April 7, 2012 … Race Day. After all of the blogs and articles I have written about the race, I feel like I have already run it ten times over. Today is my last shake-out run before the big event, and it’s the last chance I have to get my mind and body in the proper state for race morning.

I feel like now is the perfect time to re-cap all of the stuff you may or may not have read to help you better prepare yourself for what lies ahead:

CCC10K Expo Info – What you can expect and what you need to pick up before race morning.

CCC10K CYJ Official Meet-Up – Meet fellow runners and #RunLA enthusiasts at the CCC Expo.

Race Morning Transportation – Where to park, how to get there, and why being early is key.

2012 Race Preview – Course, Aid Stations and more about race day activities.

Race Day Etiquette / On-Course Safety – Rules of the Road on race day.

Top-500 Poster Award / CCC10K Artwork History – How to get your hands on a CCC10K print.

Post Race CYJ / #RunLA Night at the Hive – Post race meet-up for CCC runners and Discount Hornets Tickets!

CCC10K Training – While its too late for this year, thoughts to prepare for 2013!