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A Message From Santa: “Thanks for the run and Christmas Day Miracle”

Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.


Having made my list and checked it twice, I circled the globe on December 24th delivering gifts to roughly 22 million children an hour to make sure the nearly 526 million children worldwide, who celebrate Christmas on December 25th had gifts under their trees when they awoke Christmas Day morning, but it was me who received the best gift of all as I participated in the 4th Annual Christmas Day Walk/Run to Benefit the House of Mercy in Rochester NY.

Ok, so I’m not REALLY Santa Claus – I don’t live at the North Pole or have a shiny red sleigh or 9 magical reindeer. My belly’s not THAT big and my beard’s not THAT white. I do, however, get to play Santa each year for this event. The preparation does start many months in advance, and I do have a team full of “elves” that help me prepare and bring gifts and holiday cheer to those less fortunate in our community as we deliver them to the House of Mercy homeless shelter at the conclusion of our run each year.

Copyright 2017 Democrat and Chronicle


2017 was the 4th year for the event, which benefits the House of Mercy homeless shelter (http://houseofmercyrochester.org). The run started in 2014 when runners passed through “Tent City, Sanctuary Village” during a local race and saw first-hand the scope of homelessness in the community they called home. Six runners collected clothing and money that was delivered to the shelter that first year. The run grew to 12-15 runners in year two and attracted around 40 last year. Just shy of 70 walkers and runners registered for the event this year, which saw the course shortened to almost exactly a 5k (3.1 miles) due to the shelter moving into a new location.

The particulars of the run itself become increasingly less significant as each year’s event continues to outshine those of years past. Though seeing Santa Claus running down East Avenue behind a parade of reindeer and elves on Christmas Day morning is a spectacle of sorts, the run itself just marks the culmination and delivery of the gifts and generosity given by so many in the Rochester NY community.

Each year outshines the previous year, and the impact we have on this wonderful organization grows with the size of the event thanks to so many in the community. Fleet Feet Sports Rochester (http://www.fleetfeetrochester.com) has been a supporter of the event since its inception. Fleet Feet Sports, Rochester Running Company (http://rochesterrunningco.com) and Medved Running & Walking (http://www.medvedrunwalk.com) not only helped to promote the event, but also collected clothing, food, toys and money at their locations in the weeks leading up to the event. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Thanks to so many selfless, caring individuals dropping off new, unopened toys to these locations, we were again able to put a significant dent in the estimated 2,000+ toys that the shelter planned on handing out this past holiday season. Though toy drop off day has always held a special place in my heart, this year’s event blew me away. Amiel’s Sub Shops (http://amiels.com) stepped up and offered to feed the entire homeless shelter the day of our drop off, providing around 8 sub trays, 4 cookie trays, several cases of potato chips and water – enough food to feed more than 150 hungry individuals at the shelter that evening. Team RWB Rochester (https://www.teamrwb.org/chapter/team-rwb-rochester-ny) volunteered to help deliver all of the toys and food and then put on the gloves and hairnets to serve the folks the meals that Amiel’s provided. It was a truly heartwarming experience and I thank both Amiel’s and Team RWB Rochester for your support.

Fleet Feet Sports, Rochester Running Company, Crazy Dog T-Shirts (https://www.crazydogtshirts.com), Amiel’s Sub Shops, Byrne Dairy (https://www.byrnedairy.com) and Sugary Delights Gourmet Cotton Candy (http://www.sugarydelightscc.com) all chipped in to cover the cost of thanking all participants in this year’s event with a long sleeved t-shirt, and KAKOBeauty provided each participant a tube of their lotion. I thank each and every one of these businesses for supporting the event and helping me thank all who showed up on Christmas Day morning with a small token of appreciation.

At the conclusion of our walk/run itself, carload after carload after carload were unloaded. Our local AmVets Thrift Store (https://www.supportthevets.org) in Henrietta donated a pallets worth of clothing which was dropped off. Our friends at KAKOBeauty donated 12 cases of their lotion to the shelter. Wegman’s (https://www.wegmans.com) provided the shelter with a giftcard. Our walkers and runners cleaned out their closets and brought bag after bag after bag of clothing, shoes, coats, hats and gloves and boots. They brought food. They brought almost $400 which was given to the shelter. But most importantly they brought holiday cheer and hope to those inside the shelter on Christmas morning as we stood singing Christmas carols with the residents, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The word thank you is not enough no matter how many times I say it. In all honesty there are no words I can say to express my appreciation or gratitude to all of the businesses and individuals who make this annual event so successful and special each year. This run truly exhibits the spirit of the holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. We have created a holiday tradition that we can all be proud of, one that truly impacts lives here in the Rochester community and the fact that on one of the busiest days of the year, with so much going on, so many of you took the time on a snowy cold morning to make this run and its cause a priority speaks volumes. This event is the gift I most look forward to every year, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to support it.

Race Review: 2017 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon (Virginia Beach, Va.)

Less than two weeks removed from a devastating windstorm which featured 80+ mph winds that left over 100,000 people in the Rochester community without power – and days after Winter Storm Stella dumped in excess of 2 feet of snow or more on the same Upstate NY communities, it didn’t take a hard sell to get me to pack up the family and make the 9-hour drive from Avon, NY to Virginia Beach, Va. to participate in the 45th running of the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon.

The race, which was first held in 1973, promised a “flat, fast and scenic course along the beautiful oceanfront” and a “huge finish line celebration on the beach.” With five events to choose from, 30,000 participants over the 3-day weekend, and an average temperature of 60.6 degrees in March, thoughts of frolicking on the beach post-race, Yuengling beer in hand definitely crossed this Western New Yorker’s mind.

Victoria McLaughlin (left) of Brighton NY and Ann Marie Bedelyon (right) of Avon NY pose for a pre race picture.

The weekend kicked off on Friday afternoon with packet pickup and a Sports and Fitness Expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. In addition to a wide variety of equipment, apparel, footwear and accessory vendors, a number of notable speakers including Jen Yuengling (Yuengling), American Olympian Shalane Flanagan, New York Times Best Selling Author of Run Fast, Eat Slow, Elyse Kopecky, Runner’s World’s Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso and several others were featured during the 3-day expo.

Reviewing my “Final Instructions” email, the race website at www.shamrockmarathon.com and clicking through the race mobile app, it was evident that this would be a well put together event. J&A Racing had everything from parking and road closures, to course support and pacers, live athlete tracking, dry bag checks, VIP experiences, on course race photographers, post-race family reunion area and post race party featuring live entertainment covered. Everything that was, except the weather.

Ron Barras (center) of Philadelphia Pa. and Victoria McLaughlin (right) of Brighton NY make their way down the Boardwalk to finish the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon.

Runners participating in the TowneBank Shamrock 8k, Leprechaun Dash and Operation Smile Final Mile on Saturday morning had to deal with unseasonably cool temperatures. Those running the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon or Yuengling Shamrock Marathon on Sunday morning, however, experienced most of the four seasons, and everything else Mother Nature could throw at them on Sunday.

I arrived to the course early Sunday morning as my girlfriend Ann-Marie and training partner Victoria were both running the half marathon which began at 7:00am. We were greeted by a brisk 45 degrees and steady rain. With my race not starting until 8:30am, and the temperature reaching 39 degrees and expected to continually drop as the race went on, I was fortunate enough to have a lighter weight winter coat stashed in the trunk. I’d look more like a hockey goalie than marathon runner, but decided I’d rather be warm, and hopefully dry, than soaked and stylish as I attempted my third marathon since taking up the sport.

“It was my 3rd Shamrock Half. J&A always puts on an amazing race, too bad they cant control the weather! This years weather was by far the worst conditions I have ever run in. The volunteers were absolutely awesome for standing in those conditions for hours. I initially said no more, never again, but the excitement of the weekend will always keep me coming back!” – Sherry Warner, Hampton Virginia

An excited Sherry Warner of Hampton, Virginia crosses the half marathon finish line.

Regardless of temperature and regardless of weather conditions, there will always be a buzz in the air as the National Anthem is performed and runners, lined up in corals, await the countdown to begin their race; especially when that countdown comes from one well-dressed leprechaun who was apparently unfazed by either the steady rain or near freezing temperatures while rocking his green tuxedo.

The race began with runners heading out on a mostly flat and fast 12-mile loop made up of roughly a 6 mile out and back. The loop would consist of several water stops, a live band, disc jockeys and radio stations. Around 2 miles in (then again around mile 10 on the way back) runners were treated to views of the Atlantic Ocean as they crossed the Rudee Bridge and its minimal 48 feet of elevation change. This was also the first time that runners would experience the 20-30 mph winds that would factor into the race a few miles ahead.

A quick selfie before the start of the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon.

Though the next few miles should have been the prettiest miles of the race as they meandered down the boardwalk within a few hundred yards of the ocean, they were some of the ugliest. Though they should have been some of the easiest miles being both flat and full of distractions, they were some of the hardest. Runners were challenged by Mother Nature as they took on these next few miles making their way directly into those aforementioned winds as white caps pounded the shore. The rain did let up momentarily – as it turned into sleet that pelted the faces of runners. Gone were any thoughts of frolicking on the beach or a celebratory jump in the ocean.

As we made our way off the boardwalk and back onto the main roads to begin the back half of the marathon, the sleet turned into a very light snow. I could only laugh and think to myself how I drove almost 700 miles and 10 hours to escape this weather. I over packed for the weekend trip, but was sure I didn’t bring this weather with me. I tried to use the fact that I was from Upstate NY and spend a good amount of time training outside, in far worse conditions than this, as a motivator. “They are going to expect more from me, I’m from NY” I kept telling myself.

“First Shamrock and had a great week-end at expo, cheering on 8k runners and PRing in the full. The weather could have better but we can’t control that.” – Michael Jordan, Dewitt NY

Michael Jordan of DeWitt, NY makes his way past the Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Miles 14 through almost 20 got really tough both physically and psychologically. This stretch of miles were all road miles, and all run directly into a headwind that demanded such an increase in effort that many runners took to a run/walk method to try to just keep moving forward. Every step was physically draining as your quads and calves were punished with each step. It was also around this point which both half marathoners who were still fighting through the elements and the marathon race leaders, who were so very much closer to the finish line then us middle of the pack runners began to pass heading in opposite directions.

We passed a handful of water stops with very encouraging volunteers, a couple more radio stations and a live band before approaching the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse, a landmark which marks the southern entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. The original lighthouse dates back to 1792 while a second was built in 1881 following concerns of the stability of the original. To me it signaled that Fort Story and mile 22 were in my near future.

Christopher Herman of Avon NY crosses the finish line with a new PR at the 2017 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon.

As we ran through Fort Story, which is operated by the United States Navy, you could quickly see that this would be a prime training environment. The 1,451 acres had a combination or sand dunes, variable tide conditions, forest and open land. As we made our way through the fort, we ran through what could only be described as “sand storms,” with winds that could knock you over, every time we passed a cross road leading to the beach.

The strong headwinds we ran into just a few miles earlier seemed to quickly disappear as I had hoped they would help me regain time I lost on the second half of the marathon and push me through the remainder of the course. Having run the first half of the marathon in 2:05:50, and knowing that I had lost a good deal of time to the wind and weather, I pushed through the pain for what felt like an eternity before making the final turn back onto the boardwalk.

Finishers of the 2017 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon received this spinning Finisher’s Medal.

The finish line was now in sight. Having to beat 4:29:54 I took a final look at my Garmin as I headed down the home stretch. Disappointed for having lost so much time due to the weather I would still PR at Shamrock even if it were only a mere few minutes. 4:24:55. Knowing this course had a high rate of qualifiers for the Boston Marathon, I was anything but ecstatic by shaving a mere 5 minutes off my time. “Five minutes?” asked Ann Marie. “More like 15.” Apparently somewhere along the way, my target of beating 4 hours and 30 minutes worked its way into my head as my PR. My previous best was actually 4:39:54 – I had PR’d by just under 15 minutes!

As I made my way through the finishers chute towards the party tent, the swag started to pile up. In addition to the standard banana/water/cookie/granola bars, runners received a very nice spinning finisher’s medal, t-shirt, hat, beach towel and bag to carry it all in. There were also tickets affixed to our bibs for a free bowl of stew from Murphy’s Irish Pub, and for 4 Yuengling beers.

The after party featuring live entertainment at the Shamrock Marathon.

With registration fees for the marathon ranging from $75 to $140 depending on the date in which you register, I found this race to be well worth the money. The course is indeed flat and fast as advertised giving all runners an opportunity to post a PR (regardless of weather). The post race swag is above average (with more available for purchase) and the post race food, drinks and after party are a blast. Add to that the race weekend expo and speaker series, oceanfront running and free race photos and this race has to be one you consider running. J&A Racing has done a great job with this race and their attention to detail is noticeable. Though they can’t control the weather, the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon is definitely a race worth adding to your schedule – just remember to check the forecast!

House of Mercy Charity Run A “Christmas Miracle”


© 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. – 2016 News Coverage

I’ve thought about what to say now for a few weeks following our “3rd Annual Christmas Day Walk/Run to Benefit the House of Mercy.” The feelings I need to convey and the people I need to thank. But what do you say when there simply aren’t words to describe the feelings inside you? And when thank you simply isn’t enough?

What started with 6 of us 3 years ago, turned into approximately 40 runners and walkers making their way out to the event this past Christmas morning in what has become the gift I most look forward to each year. To the local Girl Scouts who made and donated blankets, to those who fundraised at local craft shows, to Fleet Feet Sports Rochester for collecting donations for the 3rd year in a row and to the Rochester Running company who added their location as a donation drop off site this year, thank you. I am truly blessed to have your help.

Local Girl Scouts took the time to make, then donate blankets to the shelter.

To the firefighters at the Hudson Avenue station who agreed not only to join our group in a few Christmas carols; but took the time to prepare coffee and hot chocolate and greet our runners with a warm smile and warm place to gather after dropping off donations, sharing those moments with you all and having an opportunity to thank you for your service, on Christmas morning, was so very special to me.

A special thanks to the Hudson Ave station firefighters for providing refreshments and joining in with a few Christmas carols.

To the Rochester NY running community who once again loaded up the House of Mercy, your kindness and generosity can only be described as a “Christmas Miracle.” You have touched my heart in ways that I’ll never adequately be able to convey. Because of you, we were able to drop off toys for less fortunate children to open on Christmas morning, toiletries, food and money to assist with the shelter’s day to day operations, and between 50-100 bags of hats, gloves, coats and other clothing to help the shelter as they fight homelessness in the community we all call home.

Another quick group photo before heading out.

And to the 40 or so of you who joined me on Christmas morning, whether running, walking, or transporting donations and runners, there really are no words I can think of to thank you enough. It is a great honor and privilege to put this event together each year but it is only successful because of you. On a 33 degree morning, with so much going on, you chose to make this run and its cause a priority. From postponing a trip out-of-town to see family, to delaying the opening of gifts that Santa left, to bumping your holiday dinner or planning your entire day around this event, it did not go unnoticed and I can only hope that helping out an organization as wonderful as the House of Mercy brought you as much joy as you brought me in doing so.

All Smiles! Some of the nearly 40 runners and walkers snapped a quick photo on the way to the shelter.

This run truly exhibits the spirit of the holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. We have created a holiday tradition that we can all be proud of, one that truly impacts lives here in the Rochester community, and I cannot thank you all enough for making this event more powerful each year. With the House of Mercy moving into their new location in 2017, the route will change but one thing will remain the same, my desire to make this bigger and better each year as you truly inspire me.

Approxiately 40 runners teamed up Christmas Day morning to run donations to the House of Mercy homeless shelter in Rochester NY.

The “Battle at Bristol Mountain” – My Quest to Join the Ultra Marathon Club

Named “The Battle at Bristol Mountain,” Fleet Feet Rochester and Yellow Jacket Racing teamed up July 30, 2016 to offer runners just that, a battle. With distances ranging from 1k (straight up the mountain) to 50k (several thousand feet of elevation change), there was a battle for everyone.

Setting my sights on my first-ever ultra marathon, I signed up for the 50k and began training for this event 3 months prior to race day. Running mileage increased as the weeks went on, hill workouts and training runs on the mountain itself would quickly become the norm. Every weekend for the last six weeks leading up to race day included a 5 to 10 mile loop on that mountain. Not fast. Not pretty. Not enjoyable. But I was ready. I had a plan of attack and I was going to win this battle and join the Ultra Marathon club.

Race day came like most others. The race was about 40 minutes from home meaning a 5:30am wakeup call would leave me plenty of time to get ready, get to the course and mentally prepare for the 31+ miles and many hours of running I would soon face. A total of 49 people had registered for the 50k distance, but just 34 of us would line up in the starting coral, ready to “battle.”

Chris Young, Chris Herman and Josh Kramer from the Fleet Feet / Brooks Racing Team prepare to do "battle."
Chris Young, Chris Herman and Josh Kramer from the Fleet Feet / Brooks Racing Team prepare to do “battle” at Bristol Mountain July 30, 2016.

The course began with a trip up “gravel grind,” somewhere between 1.5-2 miles that took you from the bottom of the mountain to the top – albeit for the first time. All said and done, the course featured nearly 12,000 feet of elevation gain (and loss) at up to a 40% grade. To put that in perspective 12,000 feet is the equivalent to over 11 Eiffel Towers, 10 Empire State buildings or 79 Statue of Liberty’s. Over 2.25 miles up – and 2.25 miles down we would go.

I had done previews of the course, including gravel grind, several times during my training and come to the conclusion that this “run” would not be completely a run. My plan of attack was to walk anything that went up and run everything that went down. Keeping this in mind, I began the first accent, trekking poles in hand, walking. I carried my hydration pack, plenty of fuel, food, aspirin, allergy medicine and even duct tape in case I encountered blistering. I thought of everything, even an extra battery should my cell phone start dying before completing the course. Nothing was coming between me and completing my first Ultra Marathon.

Around 5 miles in, having made it up and down the mountain a couple of times, it was something I hadn’t planned for which would provide the days first unforeseen obstacle; rain. Though it started off as a welcome cooling down, the rain was, in retrospect, the beginning of the end for my quest to become an Ultra Marathoner.

The constant pounding of my toes into the front of my shoes became more and more painful the more saturated my socks and shoes became. The grassy downhill running became tougher as things got wet and sometimes slick, and that welcome cool down became a nuisance once everything, including me was soaking wet.

As I continued towards the 10-mile completion of my first loop, I was sure that both feet must be completely covered in blisters. The pain was something I had never encountered, but I knew if I could tough things out a little longer I could address things at the bottom of the mountain.

Finally completing that first lap, I was met by members of Fleet Feet working the aid station who provided both refueling of the body and mind with some great words of encouragement. After taking off my shoes and drying my feet I decided to take advantage of the duct tape I had packed and tape both feet to prevent blistering which had somehow not happened to this point.

Sean Hendrick gives me some words of encouragement as I complete my first lap. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.
Sean Hendrick gives me some words of encouragement as I complete my first lap. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.

I took my time leaving this aid station as I would begin my second climb of gravel grind. Almost immediately, I began to encounter my second unplanned and previously un-experienced obstacle, cramping. This wasn’t the run of the mill tight calves that I’ve encountered in longer distance running, and was far worse than anything I felt even after completing my first marathon just months earlier. This was both calves and both quads screaming how much they hated this “battle,” and how badly they wanted me to raise the white flag.

As I continued up gravel grind that second time, my calves and quads began to pulsate on their own. Being a stubborn SOB that doesn’t give up, I made it to the top of the mountain unsure of how I would proceed. Whether it was the look on my face, or the “gimping” I called running at that point, it must have been evident that I was in some major discomfort as “Mike” and a few of his buddies stopped and offered up salt packets to help ease the cramping.

Runners make their way up "gravel grind" as they begin their second loop. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.
Runners make their way up “gravel grind” as they begin their second loop. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.

I was able to make it down the mountain and back up again before hitting the aid station at the top of the mountain around 12 miles in. At this point, I was fairly certain that I would not be finishing this race, but Laura who was volunteering, did a fabulous job in talking me into believing that I could, and off I went.

Down the mountain and back up again I went as I continued to push forward. I hit mile 13, 14, and 15. The miles seemed to get longer as my pace continued to worsen. The pulsating quads and calves seemed to get more painful with each step. Whether I could keep pushing physically or not, I was now faced with the reality that I would not be able to complete my second lap within the allotted time cut-off. Reaching the bottom of the mountain at around 17 miles I made the decision not to head back up the mountain and headed towards the timing tent. And just like that, my day was over. My race was over. My quest for Ultra Marathon status was over. And I had my first and only DNF on my racing resume. I had lost the Battle at Bristol.

Ann Marie Bedelyon poses with me after completing her half marathon on Bristol Mountain. No thumbs up for me after falling short on the 50k.
Ann Marie Bedelyon poses with me after completing her half marathon on Bristol Mountain. No thumbs up for me after falling short on the 50k.

In the days following the race, my running friends would congratulate me on a solid effort on the mountain that day. My non-running friends would tell me how insane I was for attempting something so crazy as they were totally in awe of the 17 miles I logged that day in July. While I could step back and be both proud of the effort I gave that day and acknowledge the “accomplishment,” I now have 365 days to train and to plan my attack for next year’s “Battle at Bristol Mountain.”

Race Review: Caesar Rodney Half Marathon (Wilmington DE)

April 3, 2016 was the 53rd running of the oldest half marathon in the country – the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. I was glad to finally get to participate in this renowned and historic race in some especially memorable conditions. Having lived in Delaware for some years, I had heard how challenging and hilly the race is, but also how well run it is as an event. After missing it a couple of years of scheduling conflicts, the stars had finally aligned. I was especially excited because I was coming back from a down year+ after recovering from ongoing ailments and injuries, and having a baby last year. I registered for this race 6 days in advance, having only run up to 5 miles a couple of times, but i had also just lost 45 pounds at the time, so I really had no idea what i was capable of. I felt a nervous excitement leading up to this event. Hal Higdon’s Novice program got me through my first marathon, and i have read several of his books. Coincidentally, he highlighted the CR1/2 as the oldest half marathon in the country in his most recent book, “Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Handbook” which dropped 2 days before the event!! I thought that was a very cool coincidence. Hashtag it was meant to be. So here is the top to bottom on the 2016 Caesar Rodney Half.

Even before the race, the packet pickup was smooth, although far from an expo, there was some information from some of the local vendors and sponsors present in the pickup area. The pickup location was a few blocks from the starting line the downtown YMCA. Some runners could care less and others are all about the swag. No matter which camp to which you belong, you are sure to appreciate the gorgeous tech shirt! This is definitely one of my top favorite racing shirts. I heard several people say it was their favorite shirt of all time. There was also a virtual race bag with tons of sponsored offers sent to our email account in advance.

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The first thing I noticed and thought was great was the later than usual starting time of the race. The half start time was at 9:30 AM. This was great for me as I could take my time in getting to the event; i only live a short distance from the starting line and was able to walk there in less than 10 minutes. I also heard this was attractive to a lot of runners coming from New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The pre race area was festive, there was a complimentary bag check but I think the weather put a damper on things for a lot of people. It was extremely cold and windy this day, so it truly felt like a winter race. Having lived in Chicago, I was having flashbacks. The volunteers were amazing. They were present in numbers, upbeat and extremely diligent in attending to all the needs of the event. After the singing of the National Anthem, we were off!

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The race starts with a nice downhill. If you’ve heard anything about this race, you know you will either be going up or down for most of the race, but it was a pleasant start nonetheless. The start wasn’t too crowded, and I heard the numbers were down a bit this year due to a date change and the proximity to Boston. Either way, I felt comfortable as the early passing ensued. A lot of people always reply “DelaWHERE?!?!” when I mention where I live, but much of our city is beautiful, and the course weaves through it. You can see the course map here: http://www.mapmywalk.com/routes/fullscreen/638738100/.

We made our way down to the Riverfront, ran along the river and back through downtown. It was extremely windy to the point when i thought, that i wished they had lifeguards because I was sure to end up in the water. Luckily, no one was blown away and it was a fun experience to say the least. Up to this point, the race was relatively benign hill-wise. As we made our way back toward downtown, we headed toward the Delaware Art Museum and Rockford Park. This is a long stretch of uphill mileage. I am not going to enter into the debate many runners make about what constitutes hilly, but in the world of road runners, Wilmington is HILLY! I happen to be an Obstacle Course Racer, so many of my events take place on mountains, so the hills are a welcome part of my training. One of my main training routes includes this very section of road as well, so i felt very comfortable knowing how long the hills are and how to pace myself. I am far from a fast runner, but when I pass people, it is usually going uphill. Between the wind and the hills, a lot of people looked worked over throughout the middle part of this race. One other thing i noticed was that the relay hand-off was out of the way, had water and seemed to be running very smoothly.

Some of the race was a blur as i was realizing that i was actually having a decent race after about 8 miles, i felt good and judging by my time, i was headed for an unexpected PR. The back end section of the race was windy and mostly tree-lined. Old bridges, the park and the double-back of the race leaders made for a good time. The water stops were ample and the volunteers were extremely spirited. Each stop was always loaded with water (courtesy of Service Mark) at the ready and friendly volunteers to encourage you and hand you a cup or two of either water or gatorade. The downhill section leading into the last miles was great, yet deceiving. The last 800m or so leading to the finish line was a stretch of uphill section. I had been eyeing my watch and new i was on track for a crazy PR, so i was really trying to run hard and smart the last miles of the race. This last hill though! (I know what i just said about hills, buuuutttt) This was the first time i slowed down and nearly walked until a mature fellow racer encouraged me to keep going and that we were almost there. I could see the finish line and pushed it to the end.

As you near the finish line, you hear your name being called and cheers of volunteers, which was a great touch. Once across the line, a voluneer adorns you with your medal. Now, again with the race swag, this may be one of the coolest medals you may receive. It was a spinner medal! Check this out!

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The post race festival was one of the best I have ever seen. I mean, any race sponsored by PIZZA is a win in my book!! They had a LOT of food! The post race menu included: Herr’s chips, pretzels and popcorn etc., 120 Seasons Pizzas, tomato bisque soup (great for dipping your pizza into), an assortment of pies including pumpkin, berry, apple and pecan etc., bagels with cream cheese, bananas, apples and oranges, Cliff Bars, bottled water, cases of grapes, assorted fruit drinks, tea and lemonade and coffee and hot chocolate. The overall and age group winners received growlers as awards. Each participant also got a free 2-week membership to Core Ten Gym and CrossFit CR10. The volunteers even received crew t-shirts provided by the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation, so they really stood out.

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Altogether, this a great event and a fantastic race. Despite cold, wind and hills everyone seemed to really enjoy the event. I know I did. People who weren’t ready for the half were able to run the 5k or the relay, so there was something for everyone from the very fast front-of-the packers to the first-timers. I talked to a few friends who either ran or were with someone who ran their first race. This race also benefits a good cause by raising money to support the mission of the American Lung Association. And are you wondering about my PR? Thanks for asking! I got a Personal Record or Personal Best by FIFTEEN minutes!! As i said before, i am not the fastest runner. i am a mid-pack runner. But this was a very welcome and rewarding result of my weight loss and recovery journey. What better way to do it than in my hometown. This is definitely a race to attend whether you are nearby, are looking to get one of your 50 states or just need a different race with a historic feel in a perhaps overlooked area. You will not be disappointed!

Please enjoy these additional photos of the 2016 Caesar Rodney Half

Some of the most amazing volunteers.
Some of the most amazing volunteers.
Finisher medal close-up.
Finisher medal close-up.
A service member ran the half in full gear. That is always inspiring to see.
A service member ran the half in full gear. That is always inspiring to see.
Black Girls Run won the team contest with the most members registered. They are always great to see at a race because they are making a huge difference in the community with health and fitness, and they are some of the best cheer squads on the sidelines.
Black Girls Run won the team contest with the most members registered. They are always great to see at a race because they are making a huge difference in the community with health and fitness, and they are some of the best cheer squads on the sidelines.
Here is the BGR team doing some dymamic warm-up before the race.
Here is the BGR team doing some dymamic warm-up before the race.
The local police were great at keeping us safe from traffic and keeping the race running smoothly.
The local police were great at keeping us safe from traffic and keeping the race running smoothly.
This is me, elated at my PR and and having completed this wonderful event. Now, where is the pizza??
This is me, elated at my PR and and having completed this wonderful event. Now, where is the pizza??

Training Diary 101

If you had asked me 6 months ago about having a Training diary I would have given you an odd look. Yes I had a record of my running thanks to my Nike app but that was about it. I didn’t purposely log anything nor had it ever occurred to me that I should be. However the first thing my coach asked for when I started training was for a training diary. I have been writing a training diary since about November and now I don’t know what I would do without one.

So here is what I have leant and why I have found a training diary useful:

Using your training diary for: progression and confidence:

The most useful thing I have found about keeping a training diary is seeing the progression that I have made. I don’t know anyone that trains for any sport or activity that doesn’t want to get better whether its running faster, lifting heavier, achieving that difficult move in yoga, everyone wants to see improvement. Keeping a training log or diary is the perfect way to do this; you can see how far you come.

It is also useful to look back on when you have had a tough session and really struggled. There maybe a perfectly good reason and actually it wasn’t half as bad as you think. It can be hard to gain perceptive and often you can be your worst enemy I know I am the first person to put myself down!! There are lot of different things that can affect training lack of sleep, overtraining, poor nutrition, weather conditions many of which may be out of your control so its important to note if that’s why you didn’t feel so good after your session.

You can take confidence from it when you’re feeling low. For many sports apart from some events that receive medals from completing, you can’t physically keep what you have accomplished; your diary will be the closest thing to proof your doing to get. Half of sport is mental having the mentality and confidence to keep going and get out the door is often the biggest battle. Also if you have a good session, figuring out why is important, what did you do different that day?

Using your training diary for: Training Analysis, What works for you?

“There is no knowledge that is not power. Life is a succession of lesions which must be lived to be understood”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more information you have, the more you will be able to figure out what works for you and where you are going wrong or areas that you need to improve on. Everyone is different what works for some will be another persons idea of hell this is the same for all aspects of training. When you look back at the information you’ll be able to see what worked before and what you found most useful, then you can tweak your training plan to include of the different aspects that worked well previously. It works just as well for other aspects of your training for example nutrition, what did you eat before or after, how long did you wait before training, did you use a gel or electrolyte drink during your session, all theses things can affects your performance and recovery.

Using your training diary for: Set Backs

No ones training is going to be 100%, you will pick up niggles or have bad sessions its inevitable. Figuring out why you developed it in the first place can help you from doing it again. You won’t learn what works well until you have tried different things out. One of the most common risks or predisposing factors to injuries is overuse so it’s important to have a look and keep monitoring it so you don’t over do it. Many people find that they can deal with a certain mileage or certain amount of particular workouts but after that point the risk of injury or niggles goes up. Knowing how much is too much will help in injury prevention and overtraining. It’s important not just in terms of overuse but for when you have to train in different conditions.

Using your training diary for:Goals setting

Set yourself some goals make them specific to you. They can vary from little mini goals to bigger goals for the long term. If you identify what goals you have then you can use them to tailor your training towards them. Do you want to do a triathlon, lift a certain weight, run a particularly time, or just improve one aspect of your technique? The best way to make it happen is to take the time to think about the best way to achieve it. It will also help you in making and achieving goals that are more specific and realistic. Use the plan to create a gradual progression, you never want to increase your intensity or mileage by more than 5% at a time creating a plan will ensure that you increase it gradually.

Using your training diary for: Gaining structure

You wouldn’t set up a business or submit a proposal at work without a business plan or goal. So why should your training be any different. Also if you get into a particular routine then it will be easier to stick to it. Do you normally have a busy day at work on a Monday or have family or friend commitments/events on certain days, take this into account and have it as your rest day. You want to take as much time to plan your recovery, tapering and rest days as much as the workouts yourself. Recovery is vital so make sure you get the right balance it may take a while but listen to your body and tweak accordingly especially as your training progresses. Normally training plans are between 8-20 weeks this depends on your goals. My running plan is on a 12-week schedule. Do you train better at a particular time or day then use this to your advantage and make that apart of your plan.

Using your training diary for: Motivation

It can be difficult to keep up your motivation to build up to your ideal peak. If you keep a diary you can look back on it and think, look how far I have come or look at all the hard work I’ve done so far, don’t stop now!! You can also use it to make sure that you keep switching it up and changing your routine. You can also use it integrate workout or exercise you did ages ago that was really beneficial. Just doing the same training schedule can get repetitive and boring so having it written down will help keep the motivation up and well as ensuring a variety of sessions. I’m quite regimental if it’s written down and says that’s what workout I should be doing then I always get it done. A diary can bring focus to your workout, having your goals and the bigger picture written down can get you through a tough session.

SPI Belt Performance Series Review

 

Here is my review of the SPI belt performance series. I have to say I don’t normally use belts to run with and normally use my Adidas Arm band. Therefore when I was asked to review the SPI Belt (Small Personalised Item) performance series I was curious to see the difference in comfort with the belt. I have to mention that I was asked to review this product and while I was not paid for the review did receive the SPI Performance belt free of charge. However I am not biased in this review and have given my honest opinion of the product from my personal standpoint. This is the only compensation I have ever been given and haven’t been swayed into writing a positive review or trying to sell you any product. I have been for a run with belt on two 5km and one 12km runs.

The look of the SPI Belt:

SPI belt performance series
SPI belt performance series

I actually like the look of the belt and think it is quite attractive. I got it in blue, which just means that the belt is black in colour with a blue zip. Yes its simple but I have no problem with that at all I quite prefer it. Personally I wouldn’t really want an out there belt but that’s my personal opinion, you can get other styles in different series from their website including polka dot or more block colours. However one two of my runs while it did pretty much remain dry a few drops maybe I simply put the belt under my waterproof which obviously made no difference to what the belt looked like and you couldn’t even tell that I was wearing the belt.

It does fit everything I need when I go for a run snuggly and comfortable, its not too tight but compacted enough for the belt to remain small in size. The actual belt with nothing in it is relatively small which is great as it means it’s not bulgy at all if you only take some ID and your keys with you. The material of the belt is dry natural rubber, which I found beneficial as it meant the belt was lightweight but easily able to mould and stretch around the items I put in the belt. I have an Iphone 5C so my phone isn’t the biggest you can now get on the market but the pocket is big enough for larger phones including the iphone6plus and the Galaxy S, which is much bigger than my phone. Normally when I go for runs I tend not too take too much with me as normally I don’t have the option to carry anything with my armband, I can just about squeeze my front door key in. The option with the SPI belt is that you can take a lot more with you and its no issue at all, you could take some money, ID, all your keys with you if you wanted to and the belt would just mould around it. The fact that the belt mould around the item does mean it may look an odd shape dependant on what you put in it but that honestly doesn’t make any difference to be personally especially as I would rather it be more compact and lightweight rather than have lots of extra material. Also the material allows the belt to remain extremely lightweight.

The band and the buckle of the belt seem to be of good quality and the width of the band seems just about right. The band is not too wide but wide enough to get a good grip around you waist/ hip.

The belt also has 4 loops for gels, which seem more than adequate for any ultra distance runner and the gels fit in snuggly. The loops are positioned with 2 on each side of the pouch so it easier to access the gels when you are running and you wouldn’t have to faff around too much to get them out.

Comfort of the SPI Belt:

SPI Belt preference series comfort
SPI Belt preference series

So this is where I ran into some issues personally however in retrospect the belt did a lot better than it properly should. The belt does move around and bounce a little when I run not massively but enough to notice particularly in the first 1km. However certainly by about 2.5km I hardly noticed the movement of the belt. The more you tend to put in the belt it naturally does seem to make it bounce slightly more with the extra weight. To counteract the movement/bouncing you can wear the belt on the hips, which does seem to prevent to the point where I actually was relatively comfortable and forgot it was there. I found that the belt does ride up a little from the hips but its pretty good. I am also not used to wearing a belt which may come into account aswell in terms of getting used to it. Overall I am pretty impressed with the fit of the belt and it was actually a lot more comfortable than I had thought it would be.

The main point to take into account with my review in terms of fit is that I have a small waist and having checked the features of the belt it does say that it fits waists between 29” – 52”. I have a 24” waist so the fact that it doesn’t bounce massively and I am still able to use the belt with relative comfort says quite a lot about the fit of the belt. I have no doubt that on a person with a 29” waist that it was actually targeted for would be no problem with the bounce or movement of the belt at all.

However a 29” waist is the waist of someone that is equivalent to a UK size 12:US 8:euro:40 which does rule out a decent proportion of runners. I do hope in future that SPI bring out an updated version of the performance belt in a smaller size especially as the SPI original, SPI energy running belt with 6 gel loops, belts are designed for smaller waists from 24”-40”. Furthermore the SPI Diabetic belt is also designed for smaller waists from 25” – 50”. If you do have a smaller waist then performance belt while adequate may not be the best SPI product for you.

Practicality of the SPI Belt:

It is meant to be weather resistance but not water resistance and they do sell plastic inserts for your electronics on their website. I placed the belt under my waterproof jacket, as there was a slight drizzle on several of my runs and I had no problem. I also had no problem with sweat however it isn’t scorching weather at the moment in Wales its rather on the cool side so I wasn’t sweating buckets. However due to the position of the belt round my waist compared to an arm band it this respect I would give it a better rating in sweat protection than my usual arm belt. Personally I think that the belt would be fine for sweat and minor drizzle but wouldn’t stand up in heavier condition having said that even when running with my waterproof/windproof jacket I have still be soaked through my base layer and long sleeve top.

Conclusion:

Overall I was impressed with the SPI performance belt, it was able to allow me to carry as much as I wanted on my runs with ease and comfort. It has been created for a simple job and it does well. I would recommend the belt to any runner as it is comfortable and doesn’t really move around. I would like to see SPI adapt the performance belt in the future to have the same size range as the original SPI belt opening up the belt to small waist sizes.

You can check out the SPI performance belt from their website on: http://www.spibelt.co.uk/running-belt-performance-black-blue-c2x18384167

Features and Price of the SPI Belt:

Price: $25.99 or £22.99

  • A large weather resistant pocket and zipper
  • 4 gel loops
  • Able to fit iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung Galaxy
  • SPIbelt doesn’t bounce
  • Compatible with 175ml water bottles.
  • The Perfect Spibelt for Runners and outdoor activities.
  • Available in black or with Coloured zippers.
  • One size fits waist 29″ – 52″

 

 

Ask the Osteopath: Runner’s Knee

As an Osteopath especially working in a sports clinic at a Running shop, I see runners come in with knee pain a lot. The most common cause of the knee pain is often Runner’s Knee or Patellofemoral pain.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runners knee is also called Patellofemoral Pain and is the most common running injury and twice as common than any other running related injury. It is particularly common in runners under the age of 25 as well as in women, Beiser et al (2011). Unfortunately it is often a chronic condition with patients still reporting it 4 years later!Patellofemoral pain is also linked to an overuse injury and more common in marathon or ultra marathon runners, Nielson et al (2013).

What are the symptoms of Runner’s knee?

The pain is normally felt round the front of the knee either underneath or around the kneecap or Patella. The pain is normally when you are weight baring and is often from squatting, going up stairs and of course running. The kneecap is seen as a lever and helps in the movement of the patellofemoral joint, quadriceps and patella tendon, which are all attached to the kneecap, Dixit et al (2007).

What element contribute to getting Runner’s Knee?

There are several different elements that can contribute to developing runners knee these include the balance and strengths of your quadriceps, foot placement and running pattern.

Your quadriceps’ are a group of four muscles at the front of your thigh and the balance and strength of them individually is very important in their function. If one of the muscles say the one at the outside of your thigh is stronger it could cause you knee cap to be pull more towards the outside of your thigh rather than straight down when tense your quadriceps.

The effect of this can increase the pressure and decrease the amount of space in the knee as well as the force at which you foot strikes the ground. These can all contribute to why you experience the pain, Fulkerson & Shea (1990). Research by Cowan et al (2002) points to the outside quad actually starting to work before in the most inner quad muscle when you have this type of knee pain. Furthermore if your inner quad is weak you are more likely to dislocate or have an unstable kneecap, Sakai et al (2000).

You running pattern or gait could be predisposing you to this injury. For more information check out my blog post on the biomechanics of running. It is important to identify, if this is the case as you may need to see a podiatrist or Orthotist for orthotics to help correct this. If you say have flat feet or a low arch it can cause your knee to roll in when you take a step which can cause the outside muscle of your quads to have to work harder to bring the knee back into a neutral position. Furthermore it has also be shown in paper by Kulmala et al (2013) that by changing from landing on the ball of your feet than your heel can also reduce the pain by 15%. Similar studies and results have also been shown from have a smaller stride when you run both affecting the mechanical pull from the quadriceps that can contribute to the pain, Wilson et al (2015).

So I have Runner’s knee, What can I do to reduce the symptoms?

An exercise program is vital to the recovery of runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain. It may be necessary to reduce or stop the activities that are aggravating the pain including running and squat based exercises. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid doing exercise altogether depending on your situation it maybe possible to substitute with swimming or cycling through cross training as an alternative to keep your fitness up while you recovery from the injury. A majority of patients find ice being helpful in reducing symptoms and can be placed on the knee for 4 minutes wrapped up in a kitchen cloth.

An exercise program is vital to the recovery and rehabilitation of runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain. It may be necessary to reduce or stop the activities that are aggravating the pain including running and squat based exercises. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid doing exercise altogether depending on your situation it maybe possible to substitute with swimming or cycling as an alternative to keep your fitness up while you recovery from the injury. A majority of patients find ice being helpful in reducing symptoms and can be placed on the knee for 4 minutes wrapped up in a kitchen towel.

The exercises found in this document are generic for the typical patient with patella femoral pain and may not be suited to every patient’s circumstances.

Exercises for Runner’s knee:

Squat with medicine ball rotation

Squats with Rotation:

Place a ball or foam roller between your legs and as you drop down to a squat position rotation your knee over to the other side. This can be done to both sides or to one depending on your situation

Wall Squat

Wall Squat against a swiss ball:

Place the ball at the curve of your lower back with your hands outreached. Drop down so your knees are at right angles with your knees over your toes and hold for 10 seconds before returning to standing.

Single leg glue bridge

One leg hip lifts:

Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Slowly lift up your hips so it is in a diagonal plane with your knees. Once in this position lift up one leg straight into the air and hold for 7 seconds before returning to the floor.  You can repeat this 5 times and then switch to the other leg and do the same thing.

wobble board proprioception

Standing on one leg on a wobble board:

This exercise to work on your proprioception and balance of your ankle. It would be ideal to stand on a wobble board on one leg. However any uneven surface would be suitable you can start with a pillow and work your way up as you find it easier.

single leg Lunge

One leg lunge:

Start standing and move one leg forwards so your knee is over your toes then step forward and return to neutral. You can do this exercise 10 times on one leg before switching over to the other side.

Squat

Squats with changing angles:

Start with a normal squat with you feet pointed straight in front of you, then start to alter the angle of you feet each time so that you target slightly different parts of the quadriceps muscle. This will help to strengthen the imbalance between the individual quads.

You can download this guide at: The A State of Health Clinic’s Website.

Completing my First Ever Marathon Wasn’t Even the Proudest Moment of My Day

My son and before the start of the Two Rivers Marathon.
My son and before the start of the Two Rivers Marathon.

I’m a MARATHONER! Those are certainly three words I NEVER thought I’d use to describe myself. I’d never even run before June 2014, and even then – the 1 minute running intervals on Day 1 of the Couch to 5k program I was using were nearly “impossible.”

This wasn’t my first attempt at 26.2 either. After completing the couch to 5k program last year, I ran my first 5k. There were then several more. I ran a 10k and a couple races of slightly longer distance. I signed up for the Four Season Challenge through our local Fleet Feet running store. That was a series of four half marathons, one every season. I thought that too would be impossible, but one-by-one I managed to finish them and began training for the last piece of that resolution. Then, towards the end of August, having logged 120 miles that month in preparation for an end of year marathon, I threw out my back on a 16 mile training run, ending my bid to complete a race of all distances between 5k and marathon in 2015.

Jack was hard at work while dad was out running.
Jack was hard at work while dad was out running.

Having taken some time off from training to recover from my back injury I found a group on Facebook, Streak Runners International. I was immediately intrigued. Though you can join the group, it isn’t until you log 1 mile of running every day for 365 consecutive days that you can become a member of the club. I wanted in. So, October 4th I began my run streak and decided that I would find an early spring marathon in 2016 to train for.

Right around that time I saw a post on Twitter that a runner was using a marathon to raise funds for an organization called I’mME, an organization which started after former Buffalo Bill (and current Pittsburgh Steeler) David Nelson visited Haiti in 2012.

A sight for sore eyes! Jack and Ann Marie suprised me with signs at the finish!
A sight for sore eyes! Jack and Ann Marie suprised me with signs at the finish!

“i’mME is a non-profit organization who exists to End the Orphan Cycle through care, prevention, and partnerships. Since beginning its efforts in Haiti during the summer of 2014, i’mME has provided over 22,000 meals, educated 250 children, rescued 11 orphans, created 37 jobs, and prevented close to 200 children from being abandoned. They are currently in the beginning phases of expanding their efforts to a couple of new countries.” You can read David’s account of his trip to Haiti – and the experiences which led him to start this organization at The Players’ Tribune. I was moved by his story and decided to start a fundraising campaign based around completing a marathon. To date, the campaign which had a goal of $500 – has raised $670 and continues to grow.

Two Rivers Marathon in Lackawaxen PA was one of the first marathons of 2016 (March 26) – and it was within driving distance from Rochester NY. I would have ample time to train for the race and raise awareness and funds for I’mME. Whenever I posted a training update (and I have run every day since October) I also put it out there that I was using this race to raise funds for a great cause. As the miles started to add up, so did the donations. Contributions came from friends at work, family members, numerous running friends from the Rochester running community – and folks I’d never met, runners from running groups I belong to on Facebook were sharing my posts and contributing to the cause. Somewhere along the way, this race became bigger than a runner banging out his first 26.2 mile race and crossing the finish line. Even while running this race, the total raised continued to climb.

Proud to finish a marathon, and more proud of the contributions to I'mME
Proud to finish a marathon, and more proud of the contributions to I’mME

The race itself was awesome. First off, you’d find it difficult to find a value priced race ($70 registering later on) with better swag. In addition to the standard finishers medal and t-shirt, runners received a branded pair of socks and backpack! And with the Pennsylvania hills surrounding this course, runners experienced nature all around them as they ran much of the course along the Lackawaxen River. Though it boasted a net elevation drop of 600+ feet, there were plenty “rollers” as the race director called them, along the way as well. Where I’m from in New York, we call them hills. We would also describe his “small hill” somewhere just short of a mountain but with the first two miles of the course being run downhill you were able to bank some time for the previously mentioned rollers. After around mile 10, the course basically flattened out the rest of the way.

The plan for this race for me was simple. Just finish. I targeted about a 12 min/mile pace shooting to finish in 5:30:00 or less. I figured 5:15:00 to be an achievable stretch goal and anything under 5 hours to be barely out of reach. Aid stations were placed every 2 miles so there was nothing to carry as I planned to hydrate with water and Gatorade every 2 miles and refuel with GU every 4-6 miles.

When the race started, and I hit that downhill start I committed the cardinal sin. Adrenaline pumping and running downhill I hit Mile 1 in 9:29. Conscious of the possibility of burning out by going out too fast I slowed down. Or so I thought. Mile 2, 9:28. I made a real effort to try slowing things down and the “rollers” and “small hill” helped by doing their part. Miles 3-8 ranged between 10:06-10:34.

I did it! I AM a MARATHONER!
I did it! I AM a MARATHONER!

Still feeling pretty good, I hit the 13 mile mark at 2:15:59 which was only slightly slower than my half PR of 2:15. The remaining 13 miles were in the 12’s and 13’s with my slowest mile being mile 24 at 13:48. I knew those last 4.2 miles would be tough though as my training plan maxed out with a 22 mile run, and tough they were. I resorted to my run/walk strategy somewhere around mile 18.

Overall, I just tried to stay within myself, stay at a comfortable pace (even if faster than planned) and enjoy the scenery and experience. There was never a doubt that I would finish, and I knew that the struggles and pain I would endure in my first marathon paled in comparison to the struggles the children and their families I had been fundraising for endure on a daily basis.

I finished my first ever marathon with a chip time of 4:59:25. Proud to have just completed a marathon, and super proud to have finished my first-ever in under 5 hours – the support that all of you have shown in supporting I’mME through my race and fundraising campaign makes me the most proud. Proud to be part of such a wonderful group of people called runners, and proud to call you my friends.

The fundraising campaign runs through 3/31/2016. If you’d like to contribute, Click Here!

A post-race celebratory photo with my son.
A post-race celebratory photo with my son.

Coming In Last

Why do we have a fear of being the last one.  You put in the effort, your out on the course longer (which takes lots of endurance) and some how we feel like we’ve failed.  Over the weekend I ran a half marathon and in the process crossed the finish line with a PR, as wonderful as that is, It wasn’t the highlight of my day.  There were several of us that made the journey to  this race and after I crossed the finish line they were  still out on the course.  A friend that had competed in the 5K event while we did the longer course and I went back out walking the course in reverse to give support to our other fellow athletes.  A long the way we met lots of new friends and cheered them on as well.  Once we made sure all of our group had come across the finish line we took part in group pictures and recalled the ups and downs of the race (in this particular race there where a lot).  We had just started walking away to leave when they announced that there was runner(s) coming in and the last runner(s) had crossed the 12 mile marker.  At that moment we all turned around went out on the course and formed two lines in front of the finish line to cheer. The looks on their faces of seeing that finish line, smiles so bright it pulls at you. Then several minutes later at the top of the hill with the golf cart and lights going behind them the very last bunch of runners.  At this point the clock read 4:34:02, we all screamed, cheered, clapped them in from the top of the hill to the high fives right before they crossed the finish line. I don’t know about them but my emotions ran over for them.  It has been one of the most amazing experiences for me as runner to be able to see the determination on their faces and those huge grins when they crossed that line. There is no shame in ever being the last one out, the only shame is in never getting out there and giving it a try.

Go Girl Finish line OKC 2016 The last of the finishers and their cheerleaders.
Go Girl Finish line OKC 2016 The last of the finishers and their cheerleaders.