2012 Beach Running Championships

A small field of 165 participants lined up under the floodlights by the Pier in Cocoa Beach on Sunday morning ready to race across the sand.  It was a pretty amazing sight, and worth getting up at 4:24 am to drive an hour over to the coast to run with them.

I like small running fields like this because you get the chance to talk to other runners and spy a familiar face or two in the crowd.  The RD had set up coffee, donuts, bagels, bananas, water and Gatorade for the pre-race get together and advised that water and sports drink would be availabe every other mile.

The sand was packed tight due to low tide, the beach wasn’t practically deserted as the count down started.  3…2..1 and we were off.  The runners quickly seperated into little clumps by pace.  For me, this was 1/2 marathon number 5 for the year.  With 7 more to go over the next nine weeks, I had to pace myself and couldn’t push… well, not too hard.

The sun started to inch up over the Atlantic turning the water purple and the sand gray.  Simply amazing.  The wind was at our backs and the race was incredible.  I was out and back in an hour and fifty minutes.  One of the women runners, a 20-something up from Ft. Lauderdale run barefoot in 1:23.  Watching her muscled form shift under her suit was reason enough for anyone to start running.  This woman was in shape, and looked amazing.  The men runner’s were no slouches either, these guys were serious about three things.  Being fit, having fun, and enjoying the company of like minded individuals.

They’ll have this run again next year, and I’ll try to be a little faster.  The awards were conch shells, and I wanted one!

Next up, I’m trying to decide if I want to do a 1/2 for Halloween down in Miami.  The medal is two zombies, and I kind of want it.  Do I drive 3 hours to run two then drive back?  Maybe I do.  Then run another 1/2 on Sunday for the Florida Halloween Half a thon.  Man, lined up like that, this runner sounds like he’s nucking futs.  Promise not to stop when I say when.

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The Night before…

Top of the World

I’m always just a little anxious the night before a race. I know I’m supposed to take it easy and rest, I should carb up and get everything ready. But I can never go to bed when I’m supposed to. Even though I know I need to be up at 5AM for an hour drive over to the coast, I still can’t go to sleep before 11PM.
I think about the run, the traffic, what I’m doing after, if I’ll know anyone there. My mind revolves around a million little things, as the mind is supposed to do, I suppose. I think about how I spent the day, taking my young daughter to a corn maize and watching her play in the kid area. She didn’t care much for the maize maze, we spent perhaps twenty minutes roaming around. But the farm had a bounce pillow, a giant sixty foot vinyl balloon set in the ground that she wanted to conquer for an hour. I highly recommend any race director who wants to increase the kid count at a race after party to toss one down. This thing was packed, and if it had been adult sized, I would have hopped for an hour too.
Kid’s are pretty amazing. Tristan told me she wanted to run a race with me today, as only an earnest seven year old can. She outlined how we would train, and where, at a run path around a lake not too far from our home, and suspiciously near an ice cream store we frequent. Hmmm.
I’m going to sign us up for a 5K in December, and we’ll run it together, as slow as she likes. Maybe she’ll come to love running the way I do, though for different reasons.
When we’re kids, we exercise as play. I watched her and a dozen others race around a tire field, swing across monkey bars, jump, run and bounce and realized that the obstacle course running craze sweeping the nation right now is exactly what they were doing. Just for fun.
Maybe as we grow up, we kind of forget how much fun playing can be. Maybe it’s not the adult thing to do, playing. But running at any age can kind of be like playing. That old competitive spirit popping up, smiling, laughing and just running along without a care in the world. Trying to be first, to be king of the hill, to finish.
I’ll sleep on that tonight. My running plan tomorrow is to smile. It’s going to hurt, and I like it, and when you like something you should smile. Now that’s a thought to drift off too…

A lopsided love affair

Brittney Spears may have said it best.  Oops, I did it again.  I signed up for another race.  This is by no means nothing new.  I’ve been racing for just over 2 years now, and have quite a collection of medals lined up on the towel rack in my guest bath.

Note to self: get some shadow boxes and put them up on the wall with bibs- sweat stained and creased.  Show off some of your accomplishments!

In my race to reach my 2012 goals of 12/12/12 (12 marathons, 12 Half’s and 12 5K’s) I had to enlist the help of virtual racing.  Have you heard of this?  It’s great if you can’t attend an event, or just don’t have the time to travel, or if you’re an expert procrastinator like me, wait until Oct to knock out 9 marathons of 26.2 miles each just because they don’t have any after April in Florida.  Too hot and wet.

I signed up to run for a charity around Halloween, and added another Run around Thanksgiving to do the same.  Here’s the thing: you register for this run, they send you a tee shirt, and a medal after you post your run results.

The thing I can’t find is a calendar that lists all the virtual runs across the country.  I’ve found a couple of links to some (San Francisco Women’s 1/2 Marathon, the Peachtree Run in Georgia) so I think I’m going to add a giant searchable internet calendar to my to do list.  If you know of a link, post it in your comments, or share this page on Facebook and tell your running buddies to send me links to so I can add them to the database.  I’ll let you know when it goes live.

My personal running calendar for the rest of the year:

10/21     Beach Running Championships 1/2 Marathon  – Cocoa Beach, FL

10/25     Harvest Hustle 5K (should I wear a costume?)

10/29     Halloween Half Marathon (virtual run) http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

10/30     Halloween 5K (virtual run)  http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

11/4       Wildhorse 1/2 Marathon – Tampa FL

11/10     Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon – Orlando FL

11/11     Baldwin Park 1/2 Marathon – Orlando FL

11/18     St Augustine 1/2 Marathon   –  St Augustine FL

11/19     Turkey Gobbler 5K  (virtual run) http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

11/20     Turkey Gobbler 1/2 Marathon (virtual run)   http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

11/28     Space Coast Marathon  –  Cocoa Beach FL

I’ll probably post about each of these runs and the 9 other marathon’s I’ll end up adding.  As I looked up the Peachtree run, I saw a link to the Atlanta Marathon on Oct. 28.  Maybe I could sleep in my SUV and call it camping…

The beauty in a lost run

I was updating my race calendar and found a race in November that I forgot I signed up to run.  A big surprise to me!  The great thing about running across a race you signed up for 9 months ago, is the money you saved! I know what I must have been thinking way back when.  Signing up 6 months in advance can save almost half of the entry fee. And I thought that I could take a long weekend with someone I love and go over to the beach to spend some time in the sand after a run. Alas, finding someone to love on the beach has been a little more difficult then signing up for a race 6 months in advance.

It’s the little surprises like this that are going to help me make my 2012 goal of 12 half marathons. Finding the 12 marathons to run will be a bit more problematic. I am already 3 in for the year but to find 9 more around Florida or Georgia in short driving distance will be an adventure unto itself. Note to self,if you set a goal to run 12 marathon next year, start in January and run 1 per month for the year. 

I guess that’s part of my personality though, I am a procrastinator.  I waited until my forties to start running long distance races. I wrote novels, screenplays, and stories for years all the while waiting for someone to discover me and have published 2 novels so far in 2012 with 4 more almost ready to publish. The Mayan calendar says 2012 is the end of the world.  I think they could be right, it is the end of the world as we know it. Time for something better, like running, publishing, playing, travel and giving myself little gifts that I will rediscover 6 month from now.

One easy step to get started on running

Ultra-running, ultra-writing

It was a Thursday night and I was drunk again.  I’m not an alcoholic, but every Thursday night, and some Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, I would go out for a pitcher or two with my buddies Josh and Elicia.  We would grab some fried bar food, order a round or two and log in to do our MBA classes together.  After class we would hang out and tell war stories, business stories and just how easy it is to change the world.

During this particular boasting session, I announced one of my bucket list items; I was going to run a marathon at the age of 40.  It’s funny how this particular milestone is on everyone’s list.  I meet thousands of people every year and the vast majority of them say they want to run a full marathon.  26.2 miles of goal setting goodness. Josh laughed. Elicia said I could do it and I logged in and signed up the Disney Marathon in January.

It was August.  The furthest I’d run in years was 2 miles.  But I figure, if you’re going to go crazy, go full crazy.  Don’t half ass it.  That night, I started training.  I strapped on a pair of worn out Cross trainer’s and took off on a circle around my neighborhood.  I made it one mile.  Then I turned around and walked back.

The next day I did it again.  I ran out a mile and turned around to run a half mile back. I finished with walking the next half mile.   I did it on Saturday, though I went out two miles on this hot gorgeous August day, and walked back.  And again on Sunday. 

This was my formula.  I would keep the distance at 3 miles until I could run the entire route.  Then I upped to 5 miles, out and back.  I would run until I couldn’t run, and then walk back.  I drank lots of water, because let’s face it, August in Florida is hot!!!  But I just kept going.  I didn’t worry about time, or how I looked or what I wore or my shoes.

I just ran.  One step at a time.

Do you take a running vacation?

I flew into Bentonville on Friday for a weekend away from it all.  I had hoped to visit with my children, but their mom had made plans for them to be out of town, so even though it was piss poor timing on my part, I still made the trip.  I planned to run the River Trail through downtown Little Rock, and even further if I could.

This was my second running vacation.  The first I took over Labor Day weekend, flying out to Los Angeles to run in a 10K, a Half and a Full marathon over three days.  There were no races in Little Rock, just a gorgeous trail that I’d eyeballed many times in town, but never had the chance to run.

The weather was perfect.  It was mid 80’s with a hot sun and a cool breeze that occasionally gusted enough to make headway tough.  I parked at The Big Dam Bridge, no seriously, that’s the name of it, a giant pedestrian bridge that arches over a dam, and took off through Murray Park headed for downtown.  I made it to Cantrell Road before I lost the trail, so my suggestion to Parks and Rec is to mark the trail better.  I turned around and ran back to the bridge, and almost pushed further, but I wanted to save a little bit in the tank for the next day.  It was still a good little 6 or 7 mile run, with a little offshoot adventure over behind some buildings that border the Arkansas River. 

On Sunday, the weather was even better.  The morning dawned rainy and cooler, but the sun quickly warmed it to low 80’s and the wind was still there.   This time I headed North.  The River trail runs under the I-430 bridge to another pedestrian bridge over the Little Maumelle River and winds around into Two Rivers Park.  All I can say is the Parks and Rec department got this one right.  The trail was gorgeous, well marked, well used and with the amazing day, a perfect run.  My legs were a little tired because I skipped dinner and opted for a fro-yo and early bedtime, but other than that, it was simply incredible. 

I have often said if I lived in Little Rock, I would have to be near the River Trail to run up one side and down the other of the river.  The city has put some effort into creating a fitness lover’s paradise, and more people should take advantage of it.  This Sunday the crowds were a little thicker than I’ve seen before, a few hundred walkers, bikers and less than 20 runners scattered along the trail.  Maybe the local runners knew another place to go.  But I found a house I wouldn’t mind living in if I moved back to Little Rock.  Perched right on the edge of the water with a waterview off one side and Pinnacle standing in the distance on the other.  Just yards from the trail.

Signed up for another half and full of expectation…

I signed up for the Xterra Wildhorse half marathon over in Tampa today.  This will be one of my first official trail races.  You know what they say, once you go single track, you never go back.

What are goals for?

My Disney Wine and Dine

Finished in under 2 hours. Goal: 1:30

At the beginning of each year I take a few moments to reflect over what I’ve done the past twelve months, and what I hope do to in the upcoming twelve.  All the greatest success experts say this is a really good practice, and it’s a fairly drawn out process for me.  First I list everything I’d like to do.  It’s broad and general and all encompassing.

Next, I break each down into little bitty steps and write down an action plan to get to that goal.  All good so far, right.  Except this year, 2012, I may have bit off more than I can chew.  Goal wise that is.

It’s 2012, so being the great and wise smart ass that I sometimes am, I published on my Facebook page a goal to do 12 marathons, 12 Half Marathon’s and 12 5K races.  Oh yeah, I’d also complete and publish 12 books on Kindle.

Guess how many marathon’s they have in Florida in a given year?

I was thinking I could run 1 marathon each month, and add a couple of Half’s every so often, and then a 5K to boot.  No problem, right?

Nah!  It gets too hot to run after April in Florida.  And then the rest of the country gets hot.  So if I wanted to knock out 12 full 26.2 mile marathon’s complete with medals, I was going to have to travel.

So I focused on the Half’s.  And now we roll into the last 4 months of 2012.  Here are the standings:

1 Marathon

8 5K’s

4 Half Marathons.

Yikes.  I have to run 24 races in 16 weeks!

Luckily, I’ve been training in the heat.  After all, Florida is practically underwater with high temps and humidity in the 99% range.  It’s hot.  How hot?  Damn hot, real hot.

And there is the trip to LA.  Over Labor Day weekend, I’m running a 10K on Saturday (Awesome 80’s) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, then down the 405 to Disneyland for the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon on Sunday after which I hope to recover with some friends, or at least a six pack and a hot tub, and then it’s off to the Labor Day Marathon in Huntington Beach on Monday morning.

Here’s the thing.  I know it’s going to hurt.  So since you know it’s going to hurt, anything after that is just easy, right?  Plus, I’m not racing, I’m running.  Apparently there’s a difference.  The next guy who says it to me though, I’m going to kick in the balls.  It’s a freaking marathon!  Who cares if it’s racing or running it.

So how does one go about preparing to do all that running?

Turns out, the best way to train for running long distance is LSD.  Lot’s and lots of LSD.

Long Slow Distance; what else could I mean?

And water.  Lots of water.  And salt.  And the right kind of food.  And did I mention a lot of running.

The best way to get the body ready for all those miles is to put some miles under you.

When people ask how I got started, or how I get inspired or how I deal with stress at work, or missing my children when they are with their mother, the answer is always the same.  Hit the road Jack.  I put some tunes on my Ipod Shuffle and take off.  Heart broken?  Run it out.  Depressed?  180 footstrikes baby.  Had a great day at work and the weather is perfect?  How about a slow steady nine mile jaunt?

Hallucinations optional.