Registered…finally.

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Finally, the congratulations I’ve been waiting for…I’m officially entered into the Marathon!  Huge thank you to everyone who supported my fundraising for Team R4V.  Because of your support, I was able to raise over $600 to support our vets!

I’ve never run a race as part of an organization before, but am proud to be part of this team.  Team R4V is much more than just a ‘show-up-for-your-t-shirt-and-swag’ team, it’s a group of athletes who are dedicated to supporting our vets and supporting each other.  Within a day of registering, I was added as part of their Facebook group, where fellow runners from all over the country are posting about their upcoming races, receiving support + inspiration, and providing helpful tips for their fellow team members. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about free t-shirts, but it’s feels great to be a part of something bigger.

Training is officially in full swing (it kicked off with bootcamp can you believe it?!) with many more details to come.

Has anyone else ever run as part of a bigger team or organization?  Curious to hear your experiences!

As always, run on runners.

-Kendall

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We’re in!

I am pleased to announce that the entry saga of the Marine Corps Marathon 2014 is over….we are IN!

Honestly, this year’s registration for the MCM was worse than applying for colleges. (Sorry MCM, I love this event, but it was a hassle) As you’ll recall, team BylMiles was planning on getting into the marathon through the 17.75 event that guaranteed you a spot in the big race.  Well, 9 minutes of registration for the 17.75 went by while I was on the phone and BAM – sold out.  9 minutes, no joke.  Then a stream of texts from friends that were also trying to get in confirmed the same thing: none of us were running the 17.75.

Our next order of business was to register for the lottery.  I’m going to be very open and say that I really don’t agree with races that have a lottery for entry.  Not only is it nearly impossible to get your whole team in (even for just two people!) against those odds, but the stress of waiting for your acceptance is unbearable.  Nevertheless, we registered for said lottery about a month ago, and patiently waited…until today.

While refreshing four different tabs on my computer, we waited for the big “yes” emails saying we were into the run.  Quick props to the MCM social media people for keeping their pages updated + letting people know that emails were still being sent out.  About three hours into our wait, my dad gets his email – he’s in! So, at this point we just need the second email to make our 2014 MCM dreams come true.

So we waited.

And refreshed.

And waited.

And tweeted hopefully at the MCM team.

And got nothing.

No lottery entry for me fellow runners, I was bang outta luck. Now, of course, panic sets in.  No lottery entry means that I need to find some other way to get into the race.  Enter Team R4V. I had never heard of this organization before, but they were ready with their posts calling for racers to join their team that hadn’t made it into the lottery drawing.

After a quick scan of their website, I was sold. Team R4V is a non-profit that provides assistance to all branches of military veterans through athletic races/fundraising – how awesome is that?! So, you are looking at the newest member of their team!

I’ll be fundraising as part of my participation, so be on the lookout for more info here on how you can support Team R4V (and of course, my race!).

To everyone who made it into the lottery, congrats! To everyone still looking for a bib, I feel you pain, best of luck in your search!

And now, for the sentence I’ve been waiting to write since we entered the lottery a month ago…Marine Corps Marathon 2014 – HERE WE COME!

As always, run on (marathon) runners.

-Kendall

Marine Corps Marathon 2013

There is nothing like a marathon. Every time we head to DC for the marine corps I am reminded of the dedication, determination and excitement of everyone involved. Runner, volunteer, Marine or spectator, you can feel the energy that this race gives off.

This year, my dad and I queued up again with 30,000 of our closest friends for the gun to sound. As the national anthem blared, we looked up to see about ten parachuters gliding down to us with flags.  They landed in and amongst the runners while the whole crowd cheered.  Honestly, it was one of the coolest sites I’ve ever seen.  Rock on Marine Corps.

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The gun sounded and we waddled our way towards the start. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the hurry-up-and-wait of a marathon start, your heart is pounding and your bouncing up and down, ready to go, but your surrounded by a mass of people on all sides, and there’s nowhere to go until you officially cross the start line.

In typical marine fashion and as expected as a second-timer, the race was very well-organized, plenty of water stations and bathrooms. My only complaint was that we didn’t get food, oranges, until mile eight (two years ago, we got this two miles earlier, made all the difference!).  Now, it was right around these oranges that my run started to go south.

My feet had started to hurt, so I popped two Tylenol to take the edge off, but the real problem was my stomach.  For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had pretty bad stomach issues for the past month and a half.  Found out that I’m basically having a bad reaction to a naturally occurring bacteria in your body (so not awesome).  So, of course, my stomach decided to put up a fight to all this running.

We ran on, until mile 10, where I literally left my mark on the race course in the most un-attractive way possible, by puking. Shout out to the woman who congratulated me with a spirited “better out than in!!”. I shook it off, and ran, much more slowly, onwards. We hit the next aid station where hero #2 of the race traded me one of my citrus goos (my stomach = no citrus for now) for a chocolate one. At this point, my stomach started throbbing, literally. I won’t go into gory details, but a shirt we saw on our run sums it up nicely: “Nothing can stop us now, we’re champions, going str….wait, hang on, dry heaves!!”.

My dad, the most awesome running companion you could ever ask for, started walking with me during mile 14.  I won’t lie, the tears were flowing, I was crushed. It was taking everything I had to keep going, but all I could think was, just keep moving.

We came around a bend and found the American University pep band cheering us on.  When they saw my alumni shirt, they started going nuts, yelling at my dad and I to just keep going!  But, at this point, both my dad and I knew there was no way I was going to make it the last 10 miles to the finish.  In true solidarity, he ran with me the last mile (no matter how much it hurt, I refused to stop my race on a walk), to where our friends and family were waiting at mile 16, our finish line.

I’ve never not finished before. Slow, tired, hurting, I’ve been all of these things, but I’ve always pushed through and made it across the line. To say that I was devastated was an understatement.  After months of prepping and getting excited, ending everything early felt like a cop out.  Admitting that I had failed felt even worse.

And then, after the love + encouragement from my friends and family had finally gotten under my thick skin, I decided to quit feeling bad. Sure, I didn’t make it to the finish, I don’t have a medal to prove it, but I ran my heart out.  A marathon is just a distance, that’s all. I ran 16 of those 26 miles, and know that I left everything out on the pavement, there weren’t any miles left in me.

Now, I’m picking myself up, dusting off a rough run and getting my head in the game for the next one. The best part of all this? I have even more motivation for next year. MCM 2014 is going to be the race to end all races (and even if it isn’t, I’ll know that I did everything I could).   Congratulations to all of my friends that completed the MCM 2013, so proud to have run with you!! Can’t wait until next year!!

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As always, run on runners.

-Kendall

 

Race Review: MCM 10k

As the countdown to the Marine Corps Marathon ticks on (and the threat of the gov shutdown canceling the race looms) I’m reminded of last year’s MCM 10K.  For some quick backstory, I hadn’t trained nearly enough for the marathon and decided to postpone my run until this year and ran the 10k instead.

I had a group of family & friends running with me in the MCM 10k last year which made for a hilarious start line. We danced on the balls of our feet out in the cold and rain on the National Mall until the gun sounded and we took off.  If your looking for a great view on your run, this is the race for you. You kick off running towards the Capitol building and continue to follow the National Mall.  The course is actually part of the Marine Corps Marathon run, which is great because you get the gorgeous tour of DC monuments during the event. Also as per the marathon, the race was extremely well organized, filled with spectators and hosted by our favorite men + women in uniform.

The course is pretty flat, and has plenty of sites to see (including a drum line!) along the way. Would highly recommend to any first timer or repeat 10k runners. You even get to cross the finish line at the Marine Corps memorial and receive your medal from a marine!  Post race, there is plenty to eat/drink and of course, you’ll want to stick around to watch the winners of the marathon cross the finish line about an hour later.

A quick tip for 10k runners (also applicable to marathoners): be ready to walk a ways to get to the start and also when you finish the race. Even though there is plenty of public transportation, you’re one of over 30,000 runners + spectators that are trying to use the same few stations. Much easier in my experience to get off the public transport a few stops away from the main ones and walk to wherever you need to be.

Shout-out to all of my friends that will be running the 10k this year again, have a blast!  In the meantime, fingers crossed that the MCM 10k and MCM can still happen in just 12 days time. As always, run on runners.

– Kendall

MCM 10k(some of my fellow 10k runners and I before the start. note my purple parrot halloween shirt!)

Race Review: Living Social Glow-in-the-Dark 5k

Allow me to preface this post by saying that I’m really excited to see all of these fun 5k events popping up. People who aren’t runners can get into it without feeling pressured to compete and possibly find a fun new (healthy!) hobby.  However, even though this event was considered a ‘fun run’ there were far too many issues with it in my book to be considered a success (sorry Living Social).

One of my running buddies and I decided to enter this as a fun, easy run. Glow sticks? Beer? An end of run concert? We thought, sign us up! From the moment we showed up though, it was clear that this event wasn’t well put together.

First, we  couldn’t find the sign in tent. We ran around (we were a tad late) and finally located an unmarked pop up tent that was handing out shirts + bags. After collecting our glow sticks, we then ran back to the start line, fully expecting to have to jog right through the start. But we waited, and waited. And finally the race started 45 minutes after scheduled.

Living Social Glow-in-the-dark 5k

The race started late, and even though kind of a bummer, not the end of the world.  All of the glow sticks + loud music were getting us hyped up so we ran out of the start line and began our trek. Not five minutes into our run though, we realize that the course is barely lit and is not only on un-even ground, but there are obstacles (literally speed bumps, rocks, curbs etc) that we have to dodge as they appear.  Not cool Living Social, I have zero time for a sprained ankle.

But, we keep going, we’re here and there’s beer + music at the end. We keep running and finally find the only water station at 2.9 miles in.  After kicking up dust, our tiny dixie cups are a welcome gesture, but a little useless that late in the run.  The finish line appears and we head on over to toast our success at the beer tent.  Walking up to the counter, we are then informed that the beer we were told was free as part of the event is actually $7 and they are even charging us $3 for water. No beer, and no water…total bummer.

Once more people started crossing the finish line, realizing the beer + water wasn’t free, and began to depart (the dance party wasn’t exactly rockin when people realized what the deal was) we decided to call it a night ourselves. Overall, completely unimpressed + would not recommend this run to even beginners trying out a fun running event.

And so ends my rant of the underwhelming glow-in-the-dark 5k. As always, run on (but maybe not at a living social event) runners.

– Kendall

Up, up and away

Greetings hoofers. With a couple of major races just around the corner I’ve been training for weeks in the hilly terrain here in CT. Some of the work has been hills-only, or hills linked in with regular runs. In any event, I believe strongly that hill running has many benefits, and the attached post goes into some great detail about hill training:

https://blog.altrazerodrop.com/tips/hill-training/?utm_source=AltraTipoftheWeek092012&utm_medium=email&utm_term=email&utm_content=email&utm_campaign=4400

Next up: Vermont 50 on September 30. Doing 50-miler this year after successful 50K event there last year. A new distance for me so watch this space. Following that another first for me, attempting to qualify for Boston at the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Just turned 50 so get the benefit of a slightly slower qualifying time. I’m not generally a speed runner, preferring distance over pace, but I figure why not give it a try. If I run headlong into the Washington Monument, someone please have the courtesy to pick me up and get me out of there.

Happy Hoofing

Michael

The big 5-0

So let’s get this straight. Over 10,000 feet of elevation change, never more than three steps without being interrupted by a rock, root or mud pit, humidity level of 80% at race time, and you just end up right back where you started? Hmmm, sounds like an exercise in futility to me.

But wait, people pay good money for all of this and more: free potatoes, pretzels, candy, pb&j’s and all the sports drink you can consume at not one but six different aid stations. OK, I’m listening. Cool T-shirt, a pair of arm sleeves, post-race meal and a free beer!! Wait, did someone say free….hey, count me in. Now, what do I need to do? What?? 31 miles???

The North Face Challenge had its Northeast regional event last weekend at scenic Bear Mountain, NY, and for the second year I participated in the 50K event on Saturday morning. In addition to everything mentioned above, I got to run on one of the most scenic courses around, with challenging terrain (rated 5 out of 5 for difficulty) and a rugged band of crazies crashing the trails. Although nearly 60 would not finish, (some due to injuries but I suspect most due to the humidity) we had around 220 finishers in total for the 50K.

With my training partner Ron leading the way, we managed to average a 12:26 pace for the course, which was good for us, and we were able to shave nearly an hour off last year’s effort, finishing in 6:25:00. We even made it into the top 10 of our age group! Of course it is a bit disconcerting to see one of the 50-milers breeze by you along the way, but those folks are nuts anyway!

North Face does a great job with this event, very well-organized and structured. If you’re of a mind to get into trail running, do some training first then look to one of their events. I believe there are six different locations around the US, with distances range from 5K up to the 50-miler.

This 50K finish was the culmination of several months of training, and serves as a great base from which to work through the rest of the year. Rumor has it Ron wants to join the nutters on a 50-miler later in the year. For that, I put my foot down. At least two free beers or I’m not going!

Happy Hoofing,

Michael

Leatherman’s Loop

OK gang, the first trail event of the season is in the books. This one is a classic, been around 25 years or so, long before the recent mud runs and obstacle course craze. It has a very interesting story line based on an actual character from history. Check it out at http://www.leathermansloop.org.

Cool dampness was in store as 1200 runners stepped off at 9am this past Sunday, after hearing the traditional Leatherman’s Loop poem and being guided by a runner on a white horse. We quickly left the open fields for a single-track adventure which involves two full stream crossings and lots of rocks, roots and hills through the 4,700-acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

True to form, my first face plant occurred within the first mile of the race. I hit my right hand so hard the screwed-on top of the water bottle I was holding blew off and all the liquid blasted out like a water balloon dropped from twenty stories. After getting up and realizing everything was intact, I continued running only to be tracked down 100 yards later by a fellow runner tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘did you lose this?’ He of course handed me the top, which I thanked him for, re-attached to the water bottle and proceeded to carry an empty bottle for the next five miles. Nothing gets past me….

Surprisingly no more falls the remainder of the race, but a few signature stumbles as the technical terrain and close quarters forced a constant level of attention to the task at hand. The first stream crossing was around twelve feet from bank to bank, about waist deep, and once up the slippery slope the trail continued on into the woods and more single track.

When you put together 1,200 runners, a relatively short (10K) course and mostly single track trails, it was a trick indeed to make a pass along the way. This to me was the most difficult detail of the event, and although I’m not by any means the fastest runner out there, I do like to keep a pace going. Ducking around trees and going off trail were definitely par for this course.

The final half mile starts in a field and funnels down to the second stream crossing with loads of spectators around flashing pictures and taking videos. All I’m thinking about is ‘Please God, don’t let me land the second face plant in the middle of the stream’! Somehow I made it across without incident and without making everyone’s top YouTube moment, and cruised to the finish line. After nearly an hour in the woods it was nice to take a break.

We left before the award ceremonies, which include the tradition awarding of a freshly-baked pie to the various winners. Nice touch for a real down-to-earth event that takes place in a beautiful setting just twenty minutes from my home. May I always recognize that and be fortunate enough to share in the experience.

Happy Hoofing

Michael

Marine Corps Marathon Times Two

It’s official, the Byl Miles team is registered for the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon!  Despite the slowness of the website and the awkward timing of registration, my dad and I made the list, and just in time too!  Apparently this year’s registration was sold out the fastest in running history, at 2 hours and forty-one minutes.   Clearly the marathon madness has already begun.

The next step?  My new running schedule.  Currently in the middle of midterms, but as soon as I have it laid out, you can bet it will be on here, so stay tuned.  Also on my pre-marathon list of things to do is decide on our Byl Miles team outfits!  Last year we sported some pretty sweet and slightly ridiculous animals hats that I’m sure will make some sort of a reappearance.

My goal for this year’s marathon is to shave off some time, have fun and cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  Anyone else going to be there this year?  Can’t wait! As always, run on runners.

-Kendall

Reston 10 Miler Review

It’s been a while since my last race, but the Reston 10 miler turned out to be exactly what I needed to get a jump on the season.  I’m not going to lie, I definitely didn’t train hard enough for this race, but crossed the finish line in a respectable time with a smile on my face, and to me, that’s all that matters.

Overall, the race was very well organized, a good solid course and of course, tons of fun!  The course was set up as a figure eight loop around the local high school, which is where the race started and finished.  Water at miles 3, 6 (gatorade here too!), and 8 and plenty of policemen and volunteers to direct you along the way.  In all the road races I’ve done, this was the first where there were traffic cones that you had to run inside of in order to stay out of traffic’s way.  At times, it was a little disconcerting when a car zoomed by, but as I said, the volunteers and policemen helped keep everybody safe and moving.

The majority of the run was through local neighborhoods, and some of the residents even came out to cheer us on, but this was definitely not a spectator race.  Even the start line was really understated, my fellow running buddy and I almost missed it, because there was no signage, only a wire across the ground.  Crossing the finish line on the high school track was great though, because everyone was congregated on the bleachers eating snacks and cheering the finishers on.  Mad props to the finish line volunteers, this race had one of the best spreads of post-run snacks I’ve ever seen.  If nothing else, run this race for the sweet snacks and the awesome Nike dri-fit shirts that we got for registering.

On the whole, a thumbs up for the Reston 10 miler, I would definitely recommend the race to my fellow runners!  Until next time, as always, run on runners!

-Kendall