Monday, November 11, 2013

National Veterans Day Run 11K

So, it turns out I'm actually getting faster! I'm telling you that up front because this race was so small, that when we gathered at the start line, I thought to myself, there's a really good chance I could come in dead last.

The National Veterans Day Run is a series of races put on in more than 40 cities across the country on the same day. The Phoenix race took place at the state capitol yesterday morning. I haven't done this race before, but it seemed like something fun and a little different to try, so I signed up.

I had no idea what to expect or what parking might be like, so me and my friends, Lara and Blake, headed down to the capitol building early Sunday morning. When we got there, parking was so easy that I thought maybe we weren't in the right area. We pinned on our bibs at the car and then wandered toward the capitol building.

Hey, there's Marines off in the distance!

Sunday also happened to be the 238th birthday of the Marine Corps. Every year, a group of retired Marines gathers at the capitol where they have a ceremony and the state lets them fly their flag below the American flag for the day.

Lara and Blake posing with the Marines
Blake is a Marine veteran, so they let him stand in with the group during the flag raising, which was really cool.

Very cool to watch


Yours truly

Since we decided to hang around and watch the raising of the Marine Corps flag, I was getting concerned that we might miss the start of the race. I had watched runners heading across the "mall" area of the capitol complex for the start ceremony. I didn't need to be concerned because I noticed that the runners were now heading our direction for the start.

I should have taken a picture of just how few runners there actually were. I guessed less than 100, but it turns out that there were 124 finishers. The smallest race I have run to date was the Havasu Half in 2011 which had about 2000 runners. The thing about really small races is that they tend to bring out the local, faster runners. I figured I would just suck it up and hope I wasn't last.

Lara and Blake

The course was two 3.4(ish) mile loops around the capitol buildings. There were two water stops total. The scenery was cool, but small races like this don't tend to bring out much in the way of crowd support. I cruised along listening to my iPod and just decided to push myself. My A goal for 1:20, my B goal was 1:25 and my C goal was 1:30. I'm happy to report that my time ended up 1:20:43. I'll take it!

I know that's not a fast time, but I was hoping to maintain a running pace of under 12 mi/min and I managed to do that. I did have to stop and stretch my hips several times because I could feel them squawking quite bit. I also walked through the water stops and walked more than I would have liked in the last mile. All in all, though, I felt pretty good cruising along at an 11:30 to 11:40 pace.

It turns out I was not dead last, but pretty close. I ended up 107th out of 124. It's a good thing I have a sense of humor about my lack of speediness as a runner.

After the race, we wandered around the monuments in the mall.

There were statues for all of the Bill Of Rights

Mast of the USS Arizona

By the time we were done walking around, the finish line of the race had been entirely dismantled. All in all, I enjoyed this race. Being such a small one, parking was a breeze and everything ran very smoothly. And there were even medals!

Plus, it was kind of fun to run in a race that was also taking place in a bunch of cities all over the country.

Check it out next year if your city is on this map!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Today Is The Day It All Begins

In one year, I get to run the New York City Marathon. I'm writing this while watching the coverage of yesterday's race and I can not wait. With the cancellation of the 2012 race, I chose 2013 to be my year. And then I ended up deferring my 2013 entry.

At first, I was really disappointed not to be running in 2013. After a tough year in the running community with the cancellation of the NYCM and the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I was looking forward to experiencing running NYC with the amazing energy of runners coming together from all over the world to run a great course. Plus, I got a taste of what it might feel like at the finish line last year, I can't wait to experience it for real.

It's going to be magical.
I've heard that the NYCM is the race of a lifetime. So while I was disappointed not to be running this year, I came to the conclusion that since I've been given another entire year to train for it, I really want to be ready. I trained pretty consistently last year, but it could have been better. And this year...well, I trained, but definitely did not get enough long runs in.

So this is going to be my year to really buckle down and improve myself as a runner. Rather than waiting for New Year's, what better way to end a year of training than at the finish line of the New York City Marathon? I'm not sure how many times I will be able to run the NYCM. If I only get one shot, I want to make sure I'm actually at my best and really soak in every minute of it.

I want an NYCM medal I get after actually
crossing the finish line.

On another note, I also scored my highest official score ever this last weekend with my horse. Seems like a great way to kick off my year of transformation, right?

Horse Show Life

Congratulations to everyone that crossed the finish line in NYC yesterday!