First Run 2014 – Portland, OR – Jan 1, 2014

I logged 319 running miles in 2013, which is a pretty serious drop from 700+ in 2012, but injuries and moving cross country had a lot to do with that.

For the third year in a row I started the year off with some mileage as soon as I could, a 5K that started at midnight.  For the second year in a row I’d be running the midnight race with Lisa although this time it was in Portland!

The race started at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland about a block off the riverfront.  We got there about 10:30 to enjoy some of the pre-party.  They had a DJ spinning tunes and had some snack foods for us.  Despite having space heaters it was outdoors and it was COLD! We were ready to get moving! We finally got started with everyone counting down the last 10 seconds and then shouts of happy New Years and couples kissing all around us and then we were off.  It was a slow shuffle to the starting line as we had a big crowd trying to get through a narrow area.  We made it to the start and then made our way onto the West waterfront area and we turned North.  This is where things got real interesting.  The road where we started was closed, but once we got onto the sidewalk it was wide open and there were people milling about along the waterfront and we either had to dodge or accept the offered high-fives as we ran by.  Several people at various levels of intoxication shouted out Happy New Years! as we ran by and one guy even called us all heroes! It was interesting to say the least.  There were also a couple people sitting on the benches who were smoking weed and celebrating and that was not something you usually see/smell along a race course.  At the Steel Bridge we turned East and crossed the river and then turned South along the Eastbank Esplanade.  Things finally opened up here and you could tell since our 2nd mile was a full minute faster than our first.  At the Hawthorne Bridge we looped up and around to cross back West across the river and return to the start.  A short jog South and then we looped back North to the World Trade Center and the finish.  Ironically enough, this same loop is part of our downtown 10 mile training loop, but we always run it in reverse (Eastbank, Steel, Westbank, Hawthorne).

We finished in 42 minutes, which was not a bad time at all considering the congestion and people dodging, and then the fact that neither one of us had run at all in the 2 weeks since the Holiday Half.

Another fun part was the people watching as we traveled to and from the race.  You know it’s New Year’s Eve when you get on the MAX Train in black running tights, shorts, two different colored shirts and a beanie cap and you are NOT the strangest dressed person on the train.  There were people in all kinds of costumes including sparkles and wings or fancy tuxes or a smoking jacket/jeans/sparkly converse combo.  We saw all manner of dress and it was pretty crazy.  After the race (about 1AM) people were spilling out into the streets and yelling and partying, pretty much a typical downtown New Years.


Disney has jumped the shark…

Well, they’ve finally done it.  They’ve gone too far.  I knew something like this was bound to happen but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon.

runDisney has made the announcement on the Disney Parks Blog of a new race and a new challenge for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.   The Goofy’s Race and a half Challenge (running both the half and full) has been around since 2006.  At some point along the way runners added the 5K to the mix for an “unofficial” challenge referred to as the Dopey Challenge, since if running a half and full marathon back to back is Goofy than surely running a 5K, half and then full back to back to back had to be “Dopey”.

Well, Disney has now made the Dopey challenge official… with a twist.  They’ve added a 10K to the mix (who’s “host” and medal will be Minnie Mouse) and instead of the Dopey being a 3 race challenge they went ahead and jumped to a four race challenge and made it the 5K, 10K, Half and then Full back to back to back to back.  The haul for this is 6 medals – 5K, 10K, Half, Full, Goofy and Dopey.  You get credit for the Goofy challenge for doing the Dopey, which I imagine is only fair.

I don’t like this for a myriad of reasons.  First, this pushes the 5K to Thursday, which complicated travel plans (and days off for those of us who, ya know, work for a living) and lodging.  If you want to come in on Saturday just to run the Full marathon only on Sunday? HA… good luck. Second, the 5K starts at 6:30AM, and the 10K start at 5:30AM just like the half and the full, so you are looking at four mornings in a row of getting up at 2AM or so to get to the start, even if you are staying on park property.  I don’t see how this is fun.  It was bad enough doing it for one race like I did. Last, it’s a money grab… pure and simple.  I love Disney, I really do, but this goes too far.  How much does it cost for the “honor” of four days of torture.  A cool five Benjamins ($495 until June 18).

This past year I paid $150 to run the half marathon by registering for it as soon as it opened.  This year the opening registration is $160.  Ok, so it’s only $10, what’s the big deal.  The big deal is it goes up every year.  Until they reach the point of diminishing returns (i.e. the price gets so high the race does not sell out) it will continue to go up.  That means in 10 years the Disney half marathon will cost $250.  Think about that. I saw someone who posted on the Half Fanatics facebook page that the Dopey was only $20 more than the combined prices of all four races.  Wait… $20 MORE? You don’t even get a discount for registering for multiple races? Damn the extra medals and the extra shirt, most other places with race combos (like the Flying Pirate or the St Leo’s this year) the price for the double is LESS than the individual prices.

Thinking back to this past year’s race experience I shudder to think what next year will be like.  Almost 60,000 runners between the three races.  The expo was MOBBED even when I went on it’s second day.  The race course was MOBBED or as one of my fellow racers so eloquently put it “We were ass-to-elbow the entire time”.  Adding an extra race and an extra day is only going to make this worse.  Now that the shorter races are part of the challenge, they are going to sell out faster and they are going to fill up with people who are doing the challenge rather than who just want to do only the 5K, or only the 10K.  Will they cap it like the Goofy so that the 5K and 10K are not 100% full of Dopey participants, yes, I’m sure they will, but it will still take a huge chunk out of both of those races. 25%? 50%? Where will they cap it?

I have other Disney races I want to run.  I’d like to run the Disneyland half in California (or even the Tink).  Lisa wants to run the Wine and Dine Half, and I love EPCOT so how can I say no to that, and her and a whole host of her friends want to do the Expedition Everest Challenge.   But, do I want to go back to the circus that the Marathon Weekend has become? Hell no.  Not even close.  You won’t see me there unless Lisa is just dying to run the Half (or the new Minnie Mouse 10K).

I know this will be an unpopular opinion, most people seem to be all “HECK YEAH!” and “BRING IT ON!” but I don’t like it.  That’s just me.  If you wanna go be Dopey for a week and spend $5000 in Central Florida in the off season, go right ahead.

Upcoming Race Schedule – Fall/Winter 2012

I was reading through my old blogs and came across one of my “seasonal” Race Calender updates and realized I hadn’t done one in a while, and my upcoming schedule is pretty much set in stone at this point.  So here goes! For the second half of 2012.

September 15th – Run for the Greenway 8K – Greensboro, NC
This race just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  This race falls on my second weekend of half marathon training which calls for a 5 mile run.  Well why not a 5 mile race? The race benefits a newly built greenway around downtown Greensboro.

September 29th – Salem Lake 10K/30K – Winston Salem, NC
Since I’m planning on doing all my Raleigh long runs at Salem Lake anyway (for the hills) and this race is put out by my fellow TCTC buddies over at Ultimate Race Management this is a must do.  It should be a great race.  Obviously I’ll be doing the 10K and not the 30K (18 miles! WOW).

October 20th – RHABA 10K – Rural Hall, NC
I’m divided on this race.  It’s rumored to be a flat and fast course, so I originally planned to set a 10K PR here, but since it’s 2 weeks before my half marathon and this is my half marathon “tune-up” I may have to hold back a little bit.  I don’t want to burn myself out or risk injury so close to the big race.  Although my 10K PR is right at a 12 minute mile pace, which now is my targeted half marathon pace, so if I’m slightly faster than that (for the shorter distance) I can set a PR without messing up my half marathon training.

November 4th – Rex Healthcare Half Marathon – Raleigh, NC
My second half marathon, this is a big race for several reasons.  First, this race has a 14 minute/mile (3 hour) pace/time limit.  If I want to have an “Official” finish at this race, I’ll have no choice to set a new PR and get under 3 hours, I think I can do this based on my current pacing and the pace I will attempt to train at.  Second, I lived in Raleigh for about 10 years during my two tours of duty at NC State, I love Raleigh, and the race starts and finishes at the NC State Memorial Bell Tower, so this will be a awesome and sentimental race for me.  I was trying to choose between Raleigh and Myrtle Beach and Raleigh won out. Last but certainly not least, my family will be there! My best friend Gray and his wife Katie (who may as well be family) will be there, and my sister and her bf as well as my parents are coming up for the weekend as well, so I will have a cheering squad and support crew with is very unusual for me, I’m used to running solo!

November 24th – Charlotte Checkers Charity 5K – Charlotte NC
Just recently got the email about this race from the Checkers (and 5 minutes later a forwarded version from my brother’s fiance) and it looks cool, and I also just discovered they are not running the Freisen 5K this year for the Hurricanes, so this will be my hockey race.  The registration includes a ticket to the game that night, so run a race, go to a hockey game and hang out with my brother and his fiance? Win win win!

December ?? – Mistletoe 5K – Winston Salem NC
I don’t know the exact date for this race yet, but this will be my December race, to make sure I run a race in each month of the year.  Put on by the local YMCA and I assume it benefit’s them and their charities.  Hope to run this one with my buddy Jen if her hip is healed up.

And that will finish up 2012 with 17 races including 10 5K’s, 2 8K’s, 3 10Ks and 2 Half Marathons. (85.8 racing miles).

Beat the Heat 5K – Winston Salem NC – July 21, 2012

There are a lot of different challenges in distance running.  Distance challenges (how far can you go), time challenges (how fast can you go), course challenges (hills, trails, pot holed roads) and environmental challenges (heat, snow, rain, ice).  This race is not a terribly difficult course, but the timing of it is brutal.  Definitely an environmental challenge.  I very nearly signed up for this race last year until I realized that Beat the Heat was not an invitation, but a challenge.  Can you beat the heat? Despite being in the evening it was still very warm and with rain threatening, very very humid.  It was 89 when I left my house, but I don’t know what it was at race start.  It was cloudy and a little bit of a breeze but still quite warm.


Smiling pre-race.  My running buddy Jen who is sidelined with a bum hip right now was at the race as a volunteer and she took all these photo’s.


The race was hosted at the Wake Forest University football stadium and the roads around it.  Nice venue, relatively flat (345 ascent, 354 descent).

This is a serious race.  This race is the US Track and Field North Carolina 5K championships with prize money and everything.  Sadly, but stoically the young girl who won the age graded placings had to defer the prize money because she is a high school athlete and has to keep her amateur status.  Still very impressive for a 16 yr old girl with a bright career ahead of her.  There was a huge crowd for this race, about 1000 people.  It was about the same as my starting corral for the New Orleans half marathon, which were about 1000 people each (plus or minus those who shifted corrals).  A lot of dodging and weaving at the start and it didn’t really thin out until about a half mile.


I’m in there somewhere, I promise.

They had three “corrals” so to speak at the start line. Elites and USTAF people up front, then under 20 minute finishers, between 20 and 30 minute finishers and then over 30 minute finishers.  My PR is 34 minutes, and so I didn’t want to be all the way back in the back with the walkers and strollers to start out with, so I tried to start as close to the front of the “over 30 minute” group as I could.

I started off as always pretty fast, caught up in the crowd and the excitement of race day.  Given the extreme conditions I planned on running this race slowly, with the goal of just finishing. I was very surprised to tick off a 10:36 first mile, but I knew I couldn’t hold that pace, but I did a good job holding miles 2 and 3 at a steady pace 11:41 and 11:49 respectively.  But I got a surprise as I loaded the Garmin at home.  I covered the last 0.11 miles in 1:04 which is a 9:52 pace! WOW.  I wasn’t trying to kick or push to the finish, but I guess my feet just went crazy.


Ran into Jen on the course at about 1.25 miles, she was almost too busy enjoying her beer to snap a picture but she managed to catch a couple of me.


Pushing hard to the finish with my unconscious kick.


Yay! I did it! (I have no idea why I do the Nixon Double Peace hands, but I always do….)

Finished up the race with a nice post race dinner of pizza and beer (after I sat down for a while and cooled down since I didn’t feel so hot immediately after the race).  Was not a PR, but wasn’t too far off.


Still smiling post race…. always a good thing.

Rhythm and Run 5K – Kannapolis, NC – June 16, 2012

This morning was the inaugural Rhythm and Run 5K to benefit the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis NC.  I signed up for this race as soon as I found out about it since I was a little ashamed as such a music-phile that I didn’t even know this place existed.  The purpose of this race was to promote them and raise awareness, and they surely succeeded.  They had about twice as many register runners than they expected someone said over 200 instead of just 100.  Unfortunately this did lead to one cardinal sin.  They ran out of shirts.  They told me they would have one for me next week, but I dont think I’m gonna drive down there just for a shirt.  I have enough tech shirts, so was only slightly bummed.

My parents were at this race today so that was very cool, as they were making a lightning tour of NC to come see us all, Charlotte on Friday, Kannapolis on Saturday and then Saturday night in Fuquay and then back home Sunday.  Short trip but they wanted to come see us.  I told them it wasn’t worth it for a short race like a 5K (they are also coming up for the Raleigh Half in November) but they happened to be coming through this weekend regardless, so it worked out.

Me and Mom before the race.

The race started promptly at 9AM, which I thought was actually a little late, I’m used to them starting around 7.  The first half of the course was shaded and breezy and then the second half of the course was hot and sunny.

Lining up for the start.

Dad caught me as I headed past him at the start.

The course was an interesting course, we headed down the little downtown street onto the new North Carolina Research Campus, which is still only halfway built and then crossed a main road onto a greenway.  We spent a good chunk of the race on this greenway, so that was nice, away from streets and traffic, although the greenway did cross a couple of major roads and there were some sidewalks/curbs/etc to contend with.  After the greenway we headed into a small park and then wound through some neighborhoods before we headed back into down town.  It wasn’t too hilly, but there were a few hills and I could feel myself bogging down in mile 3.  I knew I was slowing down.  It also got hot after the second mile as well.  As we turned back onto West A Street I knew we were getting close to the finish, but I didn’t have the energy left for any kind of surge… just wanted to finish.  I knew I was pushing close to a PR but I wasn’t sure if I was gonna make it or not.  Ended up setting a new PR by 16 seconds.  My mile splits were 10:08, 10:49 and 11:23, so as usual, started too fast and then faded, although 10:08 is also a 1 mile PR.

Pushing for the finish!

Clock says 34:10, my watch said 34:02.  I think this may be a second or two after my finish since I appear to be walking.  We’ll see what the official results say but I always go with my Garmin time anyway.

After the race I changed clothes and we hung out for a while until they gave out the awards and found out that once again I did not place in my age group (not that I was surprised).  Then we headed out to lunch.  I had asked my Kannapolis connection Kathi (from the FFF 5K) to recommend a couple of BBQ places since my Mom had mentioned BBQ.  One of the places she recommended was a place called Gary’s. The reason I picked it was because she said it had good brunswick stew, although ironically enough, turned out it was an old haunt of my Dad’s back when he used to work that region a lot.  So if I had picked one of the other places, we likely would have ended up at Gary’s anyway!

I didn’t take a picture of the inside, but the walls were plastered with every manner of old tin advertising signs you could imagine.  Coke, Pepsi, 7-up, etc etc.  There were a couple of old Ford T-Birds parked in a glassed in enclosure with a couple jukeboxes.  Looked to be mid-50’s I would guess.  Only glanced at them as we were leaving.  The barbeque was OK, the hushpuppies were good and as advertised the brunswick stew was VERY good. I didn’t eat a lot of the beans, but they were good as well.  I went for the Sweet and Smokey sauce (as did Mom), while Dad went for the Spicy Vinegar sauce.


Kernersville Spring Folly 5K

This was a last minute addition to the race schedule, but local race and the registration only 15$? Sure, sign me up! Even included a shirt which I didn’t expect for that price.

I’ve never had a race give you your post race snack before hand… Was kind of strange but as each person came up to get a shirt and their bib they gave everyone a half dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Never seen that before.

I’ll be honest.  I was not terribly pumped up for this race.  I think mostly because the last two weeks I’ve been looking ahead to Disney and not really thinking about my upcoming race schedule.  Despite running 3 (or more) miles 3 times a week, I felt unprepared for this race.  Just couldn’t shake the feeling it was not gonna be a good day.

The race was supposed to start at 8 according to the registration.  We all head to the start line, only to find out, the kids fun run (which was just 2 little girls) started at 8 and the 5K started at 8:30.  So we’re all standing around at the start line for 30 minutes looking at each other.  The clouds break and the sun comes out and it starts to get hot fast.  By the time the race started it was blazing hot.

We get started and the crowd goes off and around the first turn at about 0.25 miles, I glance at my watch and see 9:52 pace… YIKES.. TOO FAST!!! Slow down.. slow down!! Ended up finishing the first mile in 10:30, and then faded from there.  The course was very hilly and winding through neighborhoods and dodging cars and just a crazy course.

I’m not gonna lie, this was a tough course.  Despite drinking water all day friday and this morning, I think I got a little dehydrated, there were a couple points I felt like I might throw up.  I had trouble with the water stop, little kids handing out plastic cups, filled to the brim… drank about a half a cup the first time through, second time through I choked on the water and threw it down without drinking much at all.  The third mile was pretty brutal, mostly uphill, no shade, blazing sun.  I was just glad to be finished.

There were 4 guys in my age group, so I did not place.  I also did not set a new PR, which I didn’t expect to.  I was 2 minutes slower than my PR, which I reckon is not bad for feeling like I was dragging a jewelry store safe behind me the whole time.  Ironically my first mile, which was advertised as “fast” was my fastest first mile, by 4 seconds, but I couldn’t hold on to that pace enough to PR.

Splits 10:30, 11:43, 12:53, 12:13(0.12).  Total ascent 366 feet, total descent 414 feet.

Komen Race for the Cure -Winston Salem

Surprisingly, I did not run this race.  I was a spectator for once.  Very interesting experience, since my first spectator experience got rained out.  I was here to support my running buddy Jen, and also found out a few day’s before the race a bunch of my coworkers were going to be there as well.  Since the purpose of the event is to raise awareness, I decided to take pictures and blog about it to help the cause.

The event was hosted at Salem College, which is Jen’s alma mater and she also works at the school.  I didn’t see much of the campus, but what I did see looked nice.

This building was behind the finish plaza.. I’m guessing a power plant with the smoke stack (and probably long defunct just like the one on NC State’s campus, but from an old coal fire boiler most likely).

I met up with Jen before the race, she was on a team with a friend of hers who is a survivor and the team was named the Rack Stars.. play on Rock Stars.. there was another team called the Rack Pack.. so it was a popular euphemism.

Smile Jen!  How did I get my finger in there? Some photoblogger I am huh?

After that, I went to the finish area to look for my coworkers but I didn’t find them, so after a while I went back to the start line.. this is what it looked like as I walked up and more people were coming.

Somehow I managed to find Jen in this mass of humanity and hung with her until the timed 5K started.  Then as the non timed runners and walkers were making there way up to the start line I started looking for my coworkers, and I didn’t see them but then one of them found me, so I hung out with them for a while until the non timed race started.  People were still filing through the start line 20 minutes after the start of course some of the walkers were taking their sweet time which is perfectly OK.   I milled around the start line area for a little while since I had some time to kill and after 20 minutes or so headed back to the finish area.  I posted myself at almost the 3 mile mark to wait for Jen and cheer on the other runners.  I happened to catch the lead male as he was coming through and then a while later the lead female.

Jen charging hard to the finish.  I knew she was gonna post a good time, but by my watch it was about 45 minutes when she went by, but based on what they called out at mile 3, her official time was 43 something, and her Garmin time was just under 44 minutes.  She was shooting for 45-46 minutes, so she not only beat her time goal for this race, but also set a new 5K personal best by several minutes!  Yay Jen!

It was funny watching the people close to the finish, I got to see some things I don’t ever see running a race.  Some of the people looked like they were about to cry, some of them looked like they were about to die.. but they all kept pushing and I’m sure they all felt fine at the finish.. you don’t think about facial expressions when you are running that fast.

All in all it was a great event for a great cause.  There was an enormous crowd, even though the reports were attendance was way down, some of which having to do with the Susan G Komen/Planned Parenthood flap earlier this year.  The course is reportedly well marked and well staffed, so that’s always nice.  Although the water was down the hill at the finishers pavillion, not directly at the finish line, which was poor planning.  I will probably definately run this race next year, but it was interesting to be a spectator for once.  It also reminded me it’s been years since I’ve been to Old Salem.. I need to go back.

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.