Wednesday, February 19, 2014


At the risk of overstating the obvious, this is my favorite race.  If you know anything about me, you know why…it is Gainesville!  Gainesville is my magic city.  The adrenaline kicks into high gear whenever I am up there, so it should come as no surprise that I would be running this race for the sixth consecutive year.  However, it would mark only the second time I would be running the half instead of the full.

I arrived at Jen’s house around 11am on Saturday, and we made our way up to the expo shortly after that.  The expo for this race is one of the smallest, but I always seem to come away with a purchase or two.  This year, Gainesville Running and Walking was selling all of their running shoes for $50.  Despite a limited selection on size 13, I was able to score a pair of Brooks Ravenna at the sale price.  They also had a couple of new colors of the ever-popular “I Run Gainesville” tech shirts, which just goes to prove it’s quality, not quantity.  This race also consistently puts out what I consider to be the nicest race shirts; this year was no exception.

Traditionally, temperatures for this race tend to skew towards the colder side.  This year would prove no different.  When we made our way to the starting line, the temperature was a chilly 36 degrees.  There were 866 participants in the race, with 186 running the full, and 680 running the half.  These numbers were up just slightly from last year.

The race was enjoyable as always, but with an added twist…OBNOXIOUS RUNNERS!  There were two girls that ran a good portion of the way with us who were entertaining in the most nauseating way.  One of the chicks had on what could best be described as wrestling tights.  The problem was, she wasn’t one of the Bella Twins.  Additionally, she had a voice that could even crack my thick glasses.  Some of the runners like to thank the police officers for being out there to control the intersections.  Although it is a very nice gesture, they are getting paid to be there: not necessarily working out of the goodness of their hearts.  When this girl thanked each and every officer, it was like nails on a chalkboard.  Their banter was so stupid, it actually scared me that someone could be that much of a dumb ass in real life.  One example that comes to mind was how they contemplated dressing like space monkeys for the Space Coast Marathon (tail and all).

As we made our way onto the University of Florida campus around mile 10, we stopped to take a good amount of pictures.  Crossing the finish line, I was actually sad that the race was over.  The temperature was now 52 degrees, with lots of pizza, Muscle Milk and other goodies to be consumed during our post-race celebration.

Yet another successful trip up to my "home away from home."  Next race...Swamp House Half Marathon. I need to find one more race in either March or April. Any suggestions?


Saturday, February 8, 2014


I don't think I ever shared an article before in this blog, but I'm about to make an exception.  I came across this gem in Runner's World magazine (written by Mark Remy).  The text in red are my editorial comments:

Running is simple.
You don't need a room full of pricey equipment or to phone in advance for a tee time. Running doesn't even require much skill—nothing could be easier. Naturally, there are tons of rules. Not for the act of running itself, but about the code, largely unspoken, that governs behavior and informs decisions in situations that every runner encounters sooner or later: Did that driver really just cut me off, and am I within my rights to flip him the bird? What do I tell a marathoner lurching along at mile 20 like a zombie in search of brains? Here are some answers to such quandaries. None of these are rules in the USA Track & Field Competition Rules Book, because you won't find rules there on passing gas during a group run. Instead, these are guidelines to make running a little bit happier, healthier, and more fun for everyone. Because the first rule of running is just that: Have fun.
Have Fun
No other fact is so fundamental to running: Done properly, running is fun. Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberatingly fun. If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide open space. Their glee is instinctual and undeniable. I believe it was Aristotle who said, "Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run." Enjoy it. After all, there aren't many animal impulses that we can act on in public without getting arrested.
Expand Your Sense of Fun
As a runner, your definition of fun—which might once have included water parks, screwball comedies on DVD, and scrapbooking—must be, well, let's just say broadened and might include:
Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run 10 miles
Running in blistering heat
Running in the rain
Running in 400-meter circles
Feeling as if your lungs are about to explode
Paying good money for the privilege of turning your toenails black
Any combination of the above
Black Toenails Are Badges of Honor
Run long enough and you'll wind up ruining a toenail or two. Whether it's because your shoes are too big or too small or because you've run a race with punishing downhills or the toenail gods happen to be in a foul mood, someday you will peel off your socks and see black where once there was pink. Congratulations! These bruised nails are tiny trophies conferred upon you for toughing it out. Just don't flash them in public.
Run Like a Dog
My dog, a shepherd mix named Cooper, doesn't care where we are or what time of day it is, or even what the weather is like. He doesn't know what his resting heart rate is and rarely bothers to wear a watch. He just loves to run. And every time he does, his face and his body telegraph one simple message: This. Is. AWESOME. I'm runningrunningrunningrunning!
The "Run Like a Dog" Workout (Including Warmup and Cooldown) Walk 8 seconds. Trot 4 seconds. Stop. Sniff. Sprint 7 seconds. Freeze. Walk 5 seconds in any direction but forward. Stare 9 seconds. Lunge at rabbit. Double back, walk 3 seconds. Urinate. Repeat six times. Collapse on rug.
Let Angry Motorists Go
I understand the impulse when a driver has just pulled out in front of you or turned directly in your path or otherwise behaved like a jerk. I know how much you'd love to slap the trunk of that driver's car, or shout at the person behind the wheel, helpfully suggesting that he or she "learn to drive." Or extend a certain digit in a certain direction. Do yourself—and all runners—a favor and fight that impulse. Smile. Your lashing out isn't likely to change the driver's behavior, and may, in fact, worsen it. For all you know, the still-seething guy may drive extra close to the next runner he sees, just to make a point. Let him go. 
(Note to self: I REALLY need to work on this!)
The Open-Ended Question Is Your Friend
Running with someone who's faster than you? Is this person oblivious to your gasping? If so, it's time to deploy that surefire weapon of struggling runners everywhere: Ask the offending speedster a question so broad, he or she could spend 10 minutes answering it. And just might! This is particularly useful on long hills.
"Say, how's the job?"
"Any vacation plans this year?"
"Popular culture: How about it, huh?"                                                                                         
(Who isn't faster than me?) 
For Pete's Sake, Stand Still at Red Lights
Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. Keep this in mind next time you encounter a don't walk sign at a busy intersection. There's no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Just chill. Wait a few moments. Note: If a nonrunner waiting with you at the crosswalk is dancing from foot to foot, he or she may indeed have to pee. Give this person wide berth.
(I don't know about you, but I welcome the opportunity to rest)
Learn and Love The Farmer's Blow
Mastering the farmer's blow (or snot rocket) is a must for any runner. Here's how to do it right: Breathe in through your mouth, like you're gasping. Lay a forefinger against one nostril and compress firmly. Purse your lips. Cock your head slightly in the direction of the open nostril and exhale forcefully through your nose. Repeat with opposite nostril, if needed.
(Fun fact: use a paper towel instead of a tissue.  This way, you won't be wearing it at the end of your run)
"Lookin' good!"...and other runners' lies
Lying is not something we normally endorse. But it's perfectly acceptable to tell a runner that he is looking good at mile 19 of a marathon when, in fact, he looks like an insomniac who's trying to sneeze, and is confused because someone has switched his running shoes with replicas made of concrete. The go-to lie is "Lookin' good!" Or you could say, "If I weren't so awed by the apparent ease with which you're navigating this course, I might be angry with you for nearly knocking me unconscious with your very awesomeness!" The key is to say something. Even a zombie appreciates encouragement.
(I HATE it when people tell me "good job" or some other patronizing expression when I'm running.  Especially when they are finished with the race.  I think it's a total showoff move on their part)
Running Rules of Thumb
1. If you see a porta potty with no line, use it. Even if you don't need to.
(You don't have to tell me twice on this one)
2. If you have to ask yourself, Does this driver see me? The answer is no.
3. If you have to ask yourself, Are these shorts too short? The answer is yes.
4. 1 glazed doughnut = 2 miles
5. You rarely regret the runs you do; you almost always regret the runs you skip.
6. Not everyone who looks fast really is, and not everyone who looks slow really is.
7. Nobody has ever watched Chariots of Fire from beginning to end. Not even the people who made it.
8. You can never have too many safety pins on your gym bag.
9. Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard-core than covering the same route on a sunny day.
10. If you care even a little about being called a jogger versus a runner, you're a runner.
Pass Gas, Not Judgment
Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever. Especially when that GI tract is bounced and jostled. Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable, but... You may not mock another runner for having passed gas, unless he has previously mocked you for the same or unless he mocks himself. If a runner has taken pains to mask flatulence, pretend nothing happened. It's fun to pretend that the gas you expelled is propelling you forward, like a little booster rocket. That isn't really a guideline, though, is it?
(I usually let Jen get ahead of me before I fire one off)
Never Leave a Man Behind... Unless He Insists He's Okay with It
It's fine to ask once or twice if a straggler is okay or if he wants you to slow down for him. Asking three or more times, however, is more likely to annoy than to help. Take the straggler at his word and run accordingly.
Smile at Your Critics
A few people will never miss a chance to tear running down, or jab its adherents in the chest with a rhetorical finger. Oddly enough, the most vocal of such critics are often in terrible health themselves.
"Bad for your joints," they'll jab.
"You'll get arthritis," they'll jab.
"Running marathons?" they'll ask, jabbingly, between sips of their Big Gulp. "That'll kill ya."
The best response is to continue running and loving it. Meantime, try inviting these critics to join you for a short run. Who knows? Maybe someday they'll accept your invitation.
Runners Do Not Shave Their Legs
Exceptions include most North American women; runners about to undergo some sort of leg surgery; runners who are competitive swimmers, cyclists, or triathletes; and runners who don't care what anyone thinks because they just like the way smooth legs feel, especially against cotton sheets, and anyway, what's the big deal?
(I personally like the way smooth legs feel against my cotton sheets.  Just sayin')
A PR Is a PR Forever, But...
You may advertise a personal record (PR) time, or otherwise claim it as your own with no further explanation for two years after setting it. After two years, however, it becomes uncool to tell people, "My marathon PR is 3:12" without providing a disclaimer--e.g., "My marathon PR is 3:12, but I ran that 63 years ago."
(I'm not taking the 50K sticker off my car no matter what)
Remove Your Hat For The National Anthem
Manners and common courtesy apply, even during a race and even if your hat is made of technical sweat-wicking fabrics.
When Elastic Is Gone, Man, It Is Gone
Men, this one is for you. You paid good money for those shorts. You love those shorts. You've raced in those shorts. But sooner or later you will pull them on and feel roomy gaping where once there was a snug liner. This means that the elastic down there has gone slack. You will be tempted to wear them anyway. Don't.
Never Miss a Chance To Thank a Volunteer
Even if you're running the race of your life, you can still manage a bit of eye contact and a nod as you grab a cup of water from an outstretched hand. Even if it feels like your quads are quite literally on fire, you can manage to sputter a short "thanks" to the course marshal standing in the intersection. It will make the volunteer feel good. And you, too.
5 Topics Guaranteed To Get a Runner's Dander Up
1. Walking in Marathons: Good or Bad?
2. Running with Headphones: Good or Bad?
3. Dean Karnazes: Good or Bad?
4. Barefoot Running: Good or Bad?
5. Charity Runners: Good or Bad?
Before You Remove Your New Running Shoes from The Box, You Must Smell Them
Open the box. Peel back the tissue paper. Behold those pristine shoes. Then lift the box to your face and breathe deeply. Mmmm. Smells like potential. And possibly toxins. But mostly potential.
(What can I say, I love the smell of rubber)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MIAMI MARATHON - 02/02/2014

I’m not really sure just how interested I am in doing any more full marathons.

I know what you’re thinking…it is just lip service on my part.  The truth is, the training for a marathon is like a second job, and most of my running friends have downsized to half marathons.  When I signed up for the Miami Marathon over one year ago (because of the sensational savings they offered for early registration), I did not expect Elaine to be the only representative from Ocala to make the trip down to South Florida.  Jen decided to sign up for the Melbourne Half Marathon, Pam wanted to try some different races, and all of the other Turtles decided to take a pass this year (Amy signed up for the half marathon, but decided to make the race a family vacation).  Under these circumstances, this was the only full marathon that I had scheduled this racing season.  I’m not totally opposed to doing more marathons in the future, but definitely some different races (like Clearwater).

Elaine made her way down late Friday, so we decided to go to the Expo on Saturday morning.  Rachel had no plans that day, so the three of us made the drive down to the Miami Beach Convention Center.  In previous years, we had no problem parking; this year it was packed!  In addition, Lifetime was the new sponsor of the race (instead of ING), so the shirts were totally different.  We came, we saw, we conquered and made our way back home.

One of the best things about my blog is having the ability to look back and see what our routine was the last time we ran the same race.  In this case, the brutal reality will forever be etched into my memory.  Get up at 2am, out the door by 3:15am, and park at the American Airlines Arena by 4am.  I did not get very much sleep that night, but was pretty awake when we got to the race.  We walked around Bayside for a little while, and eventually made our way to our corral about 45 minutes before the start of the race (many visits to the porta potty were involved).

There were 21,854 participants this year, which represented the largest crowd for the Miami Marathon.  15,447 would be running the half marathon, while 6,407 “suckers” would tackle the full.  It took almost 30 minutes for us to get to the starting line once the race officially began, and the temperature was already 74 degrees before sunrise (oy vey!).

Since Elaine was running this race for the first time, I was naturally a very gracious tour guide.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, this is a beautiful course.  From South Beach to Coconut Grove, it just doesn't get any better in terms of scenery.  We obviously stopped to take many pictures along the way, and only one bathroom break the whole time!  It was brutally hot, with the sun out in full force.  Around the 12-mile mark, the rain clouds started to roll in, and we received a well-deserved shower for about 5 minutes.  After the rain stopped, we caught a break with lots of cloud cover for the next 5 miles.  Our pace was pretty slow, as the effects of not having run a marathon in almost a year were quite evident (not to mention, Elaine had run a marathon in Celebration the week before).

As we hit mile marker 21, we were told by a race official to “get on the sidewalk or get on the bus,” as they were about to open up the roads to local traffic.  This seemed very curious to us, as we had more than an hour before they were supposed to open the streets.  At mile marker 22, the course had us running up and back on the Rickenbacker Causeway for 2 miles.  When we got there, we were told that the road was closed to the runners and we should just continue to go north on Biscayne Blvd.  We were assured that we would still receive a finisher’s medal for the race.  When Elaine asked me what he meant by that, I told her that we were only going to run 24.2 miles; not a full marathon.  If you know anything at all about me (or Elaine), you know there is no way we would take the medal unless we ran the full race.  Still perplexed as to why we were cut off so early in the race, we decided to deviate from the course in order to make up the two miles we had lost by not running on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  Imagine the looks we received when the runners behind us wondered why we were running in the wrong direction.  In the end, we made up the mileage and crossed the finish line with our watches reading 26.2 miles.  We spoke with race officials later on, and they seemed just as mystified as to why this happened as we were.  They are supposed to get back to me, but I’m not holding my breath.

I took advantage of the early registration for next year, but I’m only participating in the half marathon.  I think I will have more company next year, but we have a whole year to figure it all out.  Back to Gainesville in two weeks!