Tag Archives: marathon

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.

No Run Is Ever The Same

I blogged a few weeks ago about my 8th marathon coming up.  It is now completed and several days after.  I’m still trying to determine what made this such a good run.  Was it the weather, atmosphere, clothes, shoes, music, course. Probably all the above and then some.  I completed this marathon and finally got myself a new PR taking 47 minutes off.  It was a out of state run, humid, sunny to cloudy the whole day, two turn around, split from half was at approximately 12.5 mile marker.  At the split off we ran right in between where the half was finishing and the bus stop was to take finishers back to the start line.  Mental, I forgot to add mental.  Running is such a mental / physical sport and I think that is where I lose myself sometimes. It’s so easy to talk yourself into things when you are mentally and physically exhausted.  When you are running so close to the finish of others and you know you have to complete the same amount of miles you just ran to be done is a mental game.  Normally I’m fine once I’m far away enough not to hear or see but, until then it’s a struggle to talk myself into not stopping.  Walking is another struggle when your trying to stay on pace especially when the majority of the field is walking around you.  Normally I do run with at least one person that’s at my pace and we seem to talk ourselves into what ever craziness pops into our heads.  This race however it was just me and me alone to deal with all these crazy notions that popped up saying you need to slow down, you need to walk, you just need to stop. I ran this race for me, my way and well I will never tell you it’s easy because it’s not, but the satisfaction when you cross that finish line and you know you’ve given it everything you had is an amazing feeling!    As I said before I’ve been doing a special challenge along with lots of others.  It’s called My Peak Challenge which is to motivate us to get fit and in turn it benefits Bloodwise which is a charity that supports people living with blood cancer.  I’ve only started with them at the beginning of this year, what a difference just a few months can make.  The program is still going if anyone out there would like to take a look at it.  There is such a great support system with this group it’s just been a unbelievable experience. Exercise videos that are what I would call cross fit, but angled to if your new to exercise you are still able to follow along and menu’s that are terrific. This program is the first time I’ve attempted anything close to cross fit and it’s made a world of difference in the activities I was already involved in. I am so much stronger now than what I was and my time on this race proved it.

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The Force Awakens!

This blog has absolutely nothing to do with the Millennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker, or Yoda’s incoherent sentence structure.

On Saturday last week, I watched the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and I was completely blown away at the caliber of runner on show. These really were the best of the best and some of the times recorded were absolutely insane. Take the male that finished first for example, he ran the marathon, his first attempt at the 26.2mile distance, in a staggering 2:11:12! I call his race ‘insane’ as I compare his time to that of my fastest marathon thus far…3:53:24. That’s a nearly 1hr 45min difference! He could have caught a flick at the movies and then started his race, and we’d be finishing up around the same time…ridiculous!

I’ll admit, it was the first time I had ever watched a running event on TV which is strange considering my absolute love affair with running, no matter the distance. I was watching the trials after having just completed my training run for the day, a mere six mile tempo run as part of my Half Ironman training. On that note, I must say that I am really enjoying Half Ironman training and am definitely noticing gains on the bike and in my swim. But back to the Olympic Trials. As you know, I ran my fourth marathon back in November last year and achieved unforgettable mental euphoria by breaking the four hour mark at the fourth attempt. This was absolutely my finest hour (or multiple thereof) when it comes to running and no matter where I have found myself running since then, I still catch myself day dreaming about the race that finally broke my four hour hoodoo.

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I did say after November’s marathon that I would be concentrating 100% on triathlon and the Half Ironman in June as a matter of priority and perhaps marathon running would take a back seat for a year or so. Running four marathons in two years has been a drain on me emotionally and I decided that perhaps I didn’t want to put myself through that again in the near future. Reevaluating my goals and trying bigger things in the world of triathlon was my focus for 2016. Well, it still is, but something happened to me on Saturday while watching the trials. While seeing the spectators cheering the athletes on, the contagious energy from everyone involved (from volunteers to local law enforcement) and the sheer joy of completing the 26.2mile distance, something inside of me awoke from its slumber…my marathon passion! I know it has only been three months since I completed number four, but seeing the Olympic Trials on Saturday completely reignited the marathon flame inside of me. I finished watching the trials and decided, yeah, I’ll do another marathon this year.

But where Cameron, where??!!! Well, I’ve entered the lottery draw for the New York City Marathon, if that fails, I’ll do the same for the Marine Corps Marathon taking place in Arlington, VA. I’ll find out about NYC on March 8. If I don’t get into either NYC or the Marine Corps, who knows. It’ll likely be at sea-level again and I do have the Seattle Marathon in my sights but I’m waiting to see what happens with the drawing of NYC first before I settle on an alternate location. Once again, I’ll be looking at late October or November for a potential race date. What will be in my favor for this next marathon is that I believe the pressure is now well and truly off. I do not have any hoodoos to break (such as the sub four hour) and maybe I’ll be in such good shape from the triathlon season that I may score a nice little PR…who knows. I’ll know that I can finish a marathon in under four hours and maybe, maybe there is room for significant improvement.

Until then, it is all systems go for the Ironman 70.3 in June and once that is over, I’ll start out on my goal of completing a fifth marathon in three years.

The force is strong with this one!

#Marathon 8

#Marathon 8 Life’s Journey

Route 66 Marathon 2013 Tulsa, Oklahoma
Route 66 Marathon 2013 Tulsa, Oklahoma (my 1st marathon)

In less than two weeks I will be on the course running my 8TH #Marathon at the Rock N Roll series in New Orleans.  I am hoping for a new PR on this one, if not that’s ok to, just as long as I cross the finish line.  I have been on a long journey for the last 1-1/2 years coming back from a back injury, which slowed me down, and in consequence I gained all my weight back that was lost when I took up the sport of running. I haven’t been a runner all that long, but have succeeded in crossing the finish line several times in the last 4-1/2 years.

This particular marathon coming up though has extra meaning for me.  The fact that I’m coming back, losing weight, doing more than I ever thought first possible, being stronger in mind, body, and spirit. Before the back injury I thought I was doing all I could, but that wasn’t true. This journey back has been full of ups and downs, turns and curves, showing me there’s still room to improve and push to do more. Changing up how I train and what I do in between races.  Not only running during the week, but weight training as well.  I am still not down in weight as I was for my first marathon, it doesn’t seem to matter because I feel stronger.

This marathon coming up is just the beginning for this year.  I have scheduled 2 more marathons, 1 half marathon, inside sprint triathlon, outside sprint triathlon, my first Olympic distance triathlon, and my first half ironman 70.3 distance triathlon. That’s only my schedule to the end of June. This years journey is just beginning and can’t wait to get started.

Go Short Go Long Go Very Long 2014,Tulsa, Oklahoma (my first 50K)
Go Short Go Long Go Very Long 2014,Tulsa, Oklahoma (my first 50K)

I would like to mention a great charity Bloodwise. I have currently been doing a program that the proceeds benefit them.  The program is called #My Peak Challenge, it involves people making a difference in their own lives while helping to raise awareness for blood cancer research. A wonderful and giving actor Sam Heughan along with lots of help started this program last year to raise awareness, funds, and promote healthy living.  I have been amazed at how well this is managed and distributed. You have menus, work outs and the best inspirational community imaginable. You don’t have bad days they won’t let you.  Right now it’s linked up to a special face book page, there are all different ranges of people from just starting out, to exceptional health, to people trying to get back to where they where or better. Please check it out for yourself, It has changed my life these last couple of months and kept me on track and accountable.

With all of this said, I hope everyone of you that read this, will follow me on the rest of my journey. It’s not easy, it’s life changing, in the end IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

left Lifetime Tri Jan 2015 right Lifetime Tri Jan 2016 wanted to share my journey, I'm not done:o)
left Lifetime Tri Jan 2015 right Lifetime Tri Jan 2016
wanted to share my journey, I’m not done:o)