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Posts Tagged ‘26.2’

2015 TCS NYC Marathon

November 2, 2015 1 comment

This weekend was the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon weekend and I made my way to the Big Apple on Friday morning to take in the scene and tackle the 26.2 mile course through the five burroughs of New York. The entire experience was one I will never forget.

On Friday afternoon, I hit up the race expo to pick up my bib number, shirt and bag of goodies. For those who know me, you may be surprised to know I also sprung for a marathon jacket and will wear it proudly going forward. The race expo was a really well orchestrated event and there were a lot of familiar faces at the expo in terms of running vendors including The Running Griffin sponsors Honey Stinger and Sparkly Soul!

Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I was able to find a shakeout run with Bart Yasso at Paragon Sports on Saturday morning. A great group of runners hit the store at 8AM and made our way out into the streets for a 3 mile warm up run. It was a great way to meet some other runners who would be tackling the marathon the next morning. After the run, I made my way over to a great outdoor market and then went to the World Trade Center Memorial. Having never seen the memorial before, it was amazing how quiet it was at the memorial; you could literally hear a pin drop. I was able to find Ace Bailey’s name on the memorial and decided to focus on all the good that has come out of tragedy, particularly with the Ace Bailey Children’s Foundation, for which I have been a supporter for the past five years.

After a nice pasta dinner Saturday early evening I made my way back to the hotel and went to bed nice and early to rest up for the big day.

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Sunday morning was now upon me and I hopped in an Uber to head to the Whitehall Terminal where the Staten Island Ferry shuttled runners over to Staten Island. Though there was a little bit of a delay boarding the ferry, trying to transport that many people is no yeoman’s task and all things considered it went quite smoothly. After the ferry ride, a bus ride took us to the starting area. The starting area was remarkably well organized and featured plenty of space, port-o-potties, coffee and more! Before I knew it, my wave and corral were being called and it was time to tackle the course.

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Once the starting cannon went off, it was onto the Verranzano bridge lower deck. Running on the bridge was quite an experience but then hitting the first wave of crowds in Brooklyn was all the better. My favorite section of Brooklyn was early in the run when revelers were having an old school block party while blasting “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” I can imagine that on this day, there is probably no getting sick of the Beastie Boys on repeat.

For the first half-marathon I ran the race pretty well, actually picking up negative splits at some points. But with about 10 miles to go the legs started to get sore and tired. No matter how much fluids and energy I was taking, it seemed a little harder to keep pushing along but I was determined to get there.

Heading up the road before making a turn into Central Park was a gradual incline that certainly made itself known on the legs. Once inside Central Park, knowing there was just two miles to go a renewed sense of energy was present and I started to run a little bit better. The last mile the emotion of knowing the end was just down the road made each painful step a little easier and crossing the finish line was amazing. Though this was my seventh marathon completed, there is something about crossing the finish line that is always moving. Having a volunteer place your medal around your neck simply can’t be beat.

The people of New York and the spectators who ascended upon the city for the race were, simply put, amazing. The crowds of people cheering you along seemed to never stop. Revelers were cheering the entire way, sanitation workers clapped you along, police officers were waving and dancing as you ran by. The signs along the course included a plethora of “That’s what she said” related signs mixed with a healthy dose of Donald Trump related signs inclusive of “You will hit the wall at Mile 20. We should get the Mexicans to pay for it” and “I’ve never met a marathoner, but I am sure they are good people.”

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The music on the course ranged from DJs to high school marching bands, a Latino church choir to a gospel choir at a Baptist church, rock bands to bagpipers, solo performers to a Japanese drum line. The music demonstrated the diversity of each runner tackling the marathon course and it helped push me along.

I finished the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon with a time of 4:48:24. It wasn’t my worst marathon, but certainly wasn’t my best. But you know what, I finished. I completed the NYC Marathon and am still standing and still able to blog about my experience today. Thanks to the good people of New York City for making it such a great experience!

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Cape Cod Marathon Relay

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Last Sunday morning it was an early departure to head down to Falmouth to take part in the Cape Cod Marathon Relay. My running club, Thirsty Irish Runners, had five teams entered into the relay race with five runners on each team to tackle a leg of the 26.2 mile course. The weather was absolutely perfect fall weather running conditions and myself and four teammates packed into a car and made our way out onto the course.

The marathon relay course runs along with the runners tackling the full marathon and there is no loneliness out on the course as plenty of runners are on the course and there are fans cheering runners along throughout the course. The transition points for the relay are great for runners and spectators alike and the cheering at these points becomes quite loud. For relay teams, you can keep track of how many other relay runners you have picked off along the way making for an extra sort of incentive to run fast for your assigned leg.

I ran the third leg of the relay which was just shy of 6 miles of running. The route was moderately hilly with some decent elevation climbs mixed into the route. I always forget how hilly sections of Cape Cod really are with a healthy dose of rolling hills and more marked hills making up a nice chunk of my run. The best part of my leg was when we ran underneath a highway overpass and there was a string band made up of seniors playing folks music and jamming away as runners made their way past.

Marathon relays are a great team event and a perfect way to spend some time with some running friends. The Cape Cod Marathon relay is definitely a race that running clubs should look to send teams to next year to tackle a good, challenging course all while building upon running friendships and camaraderie!

Buffalo Marathon 2015: Another Great Run in Buffalo

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Another great Memorial Day weekend in Buffalo, New York for my second running of the Buffalo Marathon. I ran this race two years ago and had a great time in the City of Wings and this year headed back to Buffalo for another running of the race. This winter in Boston didn’t allow for optimal marathon training but I got to the starting line with a rather good feeling as to how the race would go.

The weekend’s activities started on Saturday with a 5K taking runners on some of the same roads that the next day the marathon and half-marathon would be run on. Fortunately for us we had an early flight out of Boston on JetBlue and were able to get to our hotel just in time to see the 5K runners go racing by. We walked down the final stretch of the 5K and made our way to the race expo to pick up our numbers and race schwag. The expo this year was much larger than two years ago and had a nice assortment of different vendor tables available.

With a need to carbo-load upon us, we hit up Cafe 59 right around the corner from our hotel and had an amazing meal of chicken parm with penne for me and parsley pesto cheese tortellini for Mrs. Running Griffin. The portions were huge and the entrees were $12 each and for scratch made food you really couldn’t beat it! If in the area next year for the Buffalo Marathon or if just checking out Buffalo, get to this spot.

The Buffalo Marathon and Half-Marathon starts bright and early at 7AM and for the first 13.1 miles the two race’s runners stay together on the same course. Mrs. Running Griffin ran the half-marathon and enjoyed her first Buffalo running experience while I tackled the full. The course was changed a bit from two years ago but definitely was for the better. The first six miles took runners out of the downtown area and through a residential section of Buffalo where both the fans and volunteers were absolutely top-notch. Runners made their way back into downtown around Mile 6 and then headed out toward the International Peace Bridge and along the water for a nice stretch. Running past the Buffalo Sabres Arena a momentary pause of how awful it must be to be a Sabres fan and not a Bruins fan rushed over me but I kept on trucking. In the last mile of the half-marathon, a lone police bagpiper played Amazing Grace which to most Irishmen causes biologically response of getting goosebumps immediately upon hearing it.

The first half-marathon for me went really well and in-fact I would have been on pace to likely PR the half-marathon if I hadn’t signed up to run another 13.1 miles after that. Up until Mile 16 I was running ahead of the 4:00 marathon pace and was feeling pretty good but the legs definitely started getting sore. One of my favorite parts of the race was running in Olmstead Park in Buffalo which is a beautiful section of parkland complete with walking paths, a golf-course and a zoo. There was one decent incline in the 17th mile that when you crested you were greeted by two Buffalonians playing a violin which was an eery mix of beauty and also feeling like it may be God calling you to the pearly gates all at the same time.

The one thing I can’t emphasize enough is the fact that Buffalo has some of the greatest race fans and volunteers you can find. The people out on the course are genuinely happy to see you, want to be out there cheering for you and encourage you along the way when you need it the most. The 24th mile waterstop has its own Twitter handle and the 25th mile waterstop is manned by Team RWB and the energy that these two stops give is exceptional and provided when it is needed the most. The last mile of the run is a great downhill finish down Delaware Avenue and back toward the central downtown area. The crowd at the 26 mile mark begins to really thicken up to several rows deep and the fans cheer your number and wave you into the finish line. It’s a great finish to a great race!

Handing out race medals this year were members of the military and players from the Buffalo Bandits (professional lacrosse team) and the Buffalo Bills. Jeremy Towne of the Buffalo Bills was one of the stars of the finish line and one person most marathoners likely from the area hobbled their way to for their medal.

Post-race, we made our way to Dinosaur BBQ to devour some some great wings, an awesome pulled pork sandwich and enjoyed a flight of local beers (along with about 3.5 gallons of water it seemed).

I finished the Buffalo Marathon this year with a time of 4:29:10. Buffalo is an amazing city that puts on a great marathon weekend and this race is one I would gladly recommend to anyone looking to run a great race. The race price is kept low but the amenities and fanfare is that of much larger races. If you are considering running a marathon or half-marathon next year, make your way to Buffalo and you won’t be disappointed. For more information about the Buffalo Marathon, check out their website by clicking here and be sure to Like them on Facebook by clicking here.

Grab Some Friends and Register for the 26.2 Challenge!

11111968_813054148741875_5522776081209872578_oGrab five your your running buddies and don’t hesitate to register for the 26.2 Challenge to be held in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Saturday, April 25th.

The 26.2 Challenge is a team marathon relay featuring an out and back style course where each leg of the race is the same distance. A team of six, you and five of your friends, will conquer 26.2 miles. While your team member is out running, you’re at the transition area with 1000+ like minded people listening to a DJ play the latest tunes and cheering on your friends as they come and go. After the race, you get your beer stein filled with craft beer from Mayflower Brewing and get to chow down on food from Zagat rated RooBar right at the finish line!

The beauty of this marathon relay is that it is a great race for runners of all calibers and more importantly is the ideal way to mix running with fun; isn’t that what it is all about? The 26.2 Challenge brings together all different types of teams. The distance for each leg is manageable at just over 4mi so you don’t have to be an ultra runner to take part. The divisions include; All Male, All Female, Mixed Gender, Running/Tri Club, Corporation & Crossfit. It’s great to see that this race also supports local charities doing great work right in the Plymouth area!

For more information about the 26.2 Challenge, be sure to check out their website by clicking here and “Like” the Facebook page by clicking here. The race has a RaceMenu page for registration that can be accessed here.

Register for The Carmel Marathon Weekend

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Registration is open for The Carmel Marathon weekend and this is one race series you will not want to miss out on! The Carmel Marathon takes place on Saturday, April 18th in Carmel, Indiana and the weekend promises a full slate of race activities for every type of runner from beginners looking to tackle a 5k to marathoners looking to either qualify for Boston or to run their first 26.2 consecutive miles.

The 5th Annual Carmel Marathon Weekend will offer a marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, Horizon Bank 8K and the newly-added Stay Healthy Hamilton County 5K. All races utilize the same start and finish line allowing spectators to see the opening ceremonies and start then cheer as they finish. Finishers for all events will receive a commemorative medal. The finish line DJ will keep the area hopping with the VIP area and Beer Garden within the finish line view. There is also the Center Green, a beautiful grassy area to stretch your legs and relax just a few yards from the finish line area.

The main event for the weekend is the marathon race and the course is sure not to disappoint. The Carmel Marathon will attract elite women and men from around the Midwest to compete for the special purse. Last year’s event attracted participants from 40 states and seven countries! The Carmel Marathon Weekend will feature entertainment along the half-marathon and marathon routes with a variety of bands, DJs and cheer groups and a full listing of the performers can be found here.

The Carmel Marathon has charity runner options available for those runners looking to give back as they make their way through the 26.2 mile course. Details about the charity partners for The Carmel Marathon can be found by clicking here.

If you are looking to participate in a great race weekend, The Carmel Marathon is the one for you! Register today and be sure to Like their Facebook page and follow The Carmel Marathon on Twitter.

The Boston Marathon 2014

ImageYesterday the big day was finally here. It was time for the 2014 Boston Marathon! After months of preparation, significant effort to fundraise and more cold winter runs than I would have hoped for we loaded the buses at Boston Common to make our way out to the starting line in Hopkinton.

In 2013, Beth Ann was unable to finish the Marathon due to the terrorist attacks at the finish line. You can read more about our 2013 race experience by clicking here. Given what unfolded, this year I pledged to run with Beth Ann for the entire race and promised to her that we would cross the finish line together. What might have started out as just a “nice husband sort of offer” turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have ever made surrounding running a race.

As we lined up at the starting line, the emotion of hitting the Boston Marathon course was pretty overwhelming. I looked at Beth Ann and told her “We’re going to do this” and post fist-bump we were off. The first several miles of the race went really well; we hit a nice stride and the support along the course was nothing short of amazing. The course was jam-packed with supporters and whether they were a casual observer sitting in a lawn chair and clapping or a raucous college student imbibing the same number of beers as we would be running miles, the supporters were screaming from the start to the finish line and helped motivate runners along the way.

Thanks to the Thirsty Irish Runners for their support at the Mile 4 water stop. Perfect timing as we arrived at the water stop as Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ was blaring on their speakers!

Around Mile 10 or so Beth Ann started to experience some rather bad leg cramping and knee pain which really began to impact the run. As we continued along, there became a point where Beth Ann looked at me and told me to go run without her but I committed to cross the finish line with her. It wasn’t an option to leave her; we were going to do this together. As we continued along the course, we mixed running and walking to help ease some of the pain. After a couple of emotional breaks, I told Beth Ann we would get to the finish together and I was proud of her. We both reminded ourselves of why we were running (raising money for a cause so near and dear to us) and we knew the finish line would get here soon enough.

The Wellesley College girls were amazing as always and their signs were better than 2012 when I ran Boston before. The Boston College students cheered for us with the same fervor as if we were running neck and neck for 1st and 2nd place. The crowds simply did not let up and certainly did not disappoint.

Between Miles 23 and 24 were my brother, my parents and family friends. Thankfully, Owen had the requisite gummy bears to help fuel the last stretch and the cheers of my parents was an added boost. It was awesome to have them there. They spent a long day in the city waiting to see us get to where they were but having them there even for the brief few seconds we stopped to say hello meant the absolute world to both Beth Ann and I.

As we made our way to the Mile 25 mark the famous Citgo sign became visible and knowing the route, we knew we were close to the finish line. Making our way into the Mass. Ave tunnel where so many runners were stopped last year was quite an emotional fete and as we made our final right hand turn onto Hereford Street, I looked at Beth Ann and she said “Let’s do this.” We ran on Hereford and then made the final left hand turn onto Boylston. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when she challenged me to sprint into the finish line and was so incredibly proud to be joining her crossing the Boston Marathon finish line. Racing down Boylston was quite emotional as we ran past where I was standing last year, the location of the two blasts and the sites that even for non-marathoners became emblazoned in the minds of so many. We did it! We finished the Boston Marathon! The time was 6:02:18 or 13:50/miles. Beth Ann beat herself up a couple times on the course and told me “It’s just not my day.” To that, I say hogwash. We finished the Boston Marathon, an accomplishment most people can only dream of. It was her day. It was our day.

ImageHaving the volunteer place the medal over each of our necks was also quite an emotional point of the day and one that I will never forget. We earned the medal this year and Beth Ann received the honor of having the medal placed around her neck this year that was so senselessly taken away from her last year.

So now, with the race behind us, it is time for rest, ice, refueling and thanking all of those who supported us. We have raised over $7200 for Tufts Medical Center and The Floating Hospital for Children. You can read more about our efforts here.

ING Hartford Marathon

ImageHaving never competed in more than one marathon in one year, I figured 2013 was a good year to push the limits. After having run a really strong Buffalo Marathon, I decided to sign up for the ING Hartford Marathon to check another race off the bucket list. Billed as a marathon that was flat, well-supported and a good time, the ING Hartford Marathon lived up to all of my expectations and crossing the finish line was a great accomplishment to chalk up for an all around great running year.

Friday afternoon we hit up the marathon expo to pick up my bib number and to scout out the various vendors present at the expo. There was a nice mix of local and national vendors present and and most booths had a free giveaway or a raffle that runners could enter.

Saturday morning, my father drove me from their home in Holyoke, Massachusetts down Route 91 into Hartford and we arrived with plenty of time to spare until the race started. The race started at the foot of the Capitol building and racers gathered in Bushnell Park for the pre-race stretching, food and drink. All of the various charities taking part in the race had tents available and there was a great atmosphere with music keeping the runners awake in the early hours. With a race time start of 8AM, the fall air was still quite cool and I kept layers on until it was time to drop my bag at the Bushnell Theater which was located right next to the starting line.

As runners lined up to start, a classy start to the race included a Connecticut State Trooper singing an amazing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner along with some quick speeches from the Mayor of Hartford and a representative from ING coupled with an invocation that was poignant for runners.

As the wheelchair participants made their way onto the course, the race announcer asked runners to look toward the steps of the State Library where young dancers wearing Run Boston Strong tee-shirts danced to an upbeat version of the Boston anthem Sweet Caroline. The sea of runners chimed in with the requisite “Bum bum bum” on queue.

Next it was go time for the marathon runners. We made our way through the downtown section of Hartford first running past a great contingent of fans with super signs and flags waving. (One of the best ones was “You run better than the government.”) Marathoners and half-marathoners split as we made our way out of the downtown area as the courses were different.

The first 13.1 miles of the race were a rather flat stretch of road and I felt really strong running the first half of the marathon. With some stretches within a park along the river paired to some running through an office park and then back into some residential neighborhoods, it was great to see a lot of people along the way cheering runners on with orange cow bells and blow horns. What was nice about the race was that there was great entertainment along the way ranging from two guys with guitars to a larger scale band to a group singing Hare Krishna chants. At the half-marathon mark I was running an 8:49/mile pace good for a half-marathon time of 1:55:19.

From Mile 14 to Mile 17 was probably one of my favorite stretches of the race as runners made their way through a rather scenic rural stretch complete with farms, large houses and an amazing contingent of supporters along the road. It was the perfect fall day to be running through such a neighborhood and really epitomized what New England running is all about. At Mile 17 I really started to feel some pretty good pain in my right ankle, though, and as we looped back toward Mile 20 I could tell my pace was going to be suffering. Fortunately I ran a moderately strong first 13.1 miles as from Mile 17 on I was running with a rather large amount of pain in my right ankle.

Beth Ann met me at Mile 20 with gummy bears in hand which helped put some sugar back into my body and helped me make my way back onto the pavement. Heading back toward Mile 23 there was a junk food station about 22.5 miles in where I grabbed some flat soda to again get some sugar into my system. At Mile 23 one of the volunteers helped get you through the wall cheering that we were “Hall of Famers” and almost there. A couple of less fortunate runners were being attended to by ambulances between Miles 23 and 25 which always helps put things back into perspective.

As I came upon the Mile 25 sign I knew it was just 1.2 more miles to go; unfortunately that included up an on-ramp bridge to head back into downtown Hartford and the ankle was hurting even more at this point. As soon as I crested the bridge, I knew it was time to kick it back into gear and push with whatever I had left in the tank. I ran a pretty solid last half-mile or so into the finish line and finished the race with a time of 4:33:31 good for 10:29/miles.

ImageAfter Buffalo, which was my marathon PR, the ING Hartford Marathon is my second best marathon time.  I wish my ankle was able to hold up a bit better than it did and as I type this recap today it looks at though someone dropped an anvil on my ankle but us marathon types are tough and I will be back running as soon as the swelling goes down.

The ING Hartford Marathon was a great race and lived up to all the good things I have heard about the race. Great race support, great fans, a really nice course and super amenities. If you are looking for a New England marathon to complete next year, give this one a shot!