Three Things Thursday: Drumstick Dash lessons

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family. It's been a great one, except for my race performance. I kicked off the day with one of my worst 5Ks ever at the Drumstick Dash in Roanoke, Virginia. After the race, I had a tweet that summed things up well ... 

I came away with a disappointing 26 minutes and change. It was my 4th worst 5K ever. No matter what my approach, that's inexcusable for me, and I'm done with this casualness that I've developed with races this year. I've slipped into this mind-frame before and it never produces anything good. 

Today was motivating, though. I now know that ...

1) ... I really need to work on speed work.

2) ... I need to lose weight to be more comfortable in short a race. 

3) ... I want to race more. 

The biggest highlight for me was running about 3/4 of a mile with my wife as she ran just her second 5K ever. She'll also be running the Surf-n-Santa 5K miler in just a few short weeks!

No words for Blue Ridge

2014 Blue Ridge Half Marathon medal

I don't have the words to explain how awesome the Blue Ridge Half Marathon weekend was again this year.

With so many different people I know -- former co-workers, friends from high school, #RunChat friends, several other bloggers and an unusual amount of Iowans (hi Josh, Angie and Theresa!) -- taking part in it, the race itself has felt like just a small part of the weekend for a couple of years in a row.

The race, though, is what we all talk about before, during and after. It's crazy. It's nuts. It's brutal. It's painful. It's rewarding. It now has Peakwood in addition to Mill Mountain.

2014 blue ridge elevation

Take everything you could imagine about a race, both good and bad (and everything else in between), and that's what the Blue Ridge Half Marathon has become. I could only imagine what doing the full marathon would do to me.

On the way up Mill Mountain, in just the first three miles, I told my friend Josh (not the one from Iowa) that if I had any small desire left to do the full marathon, it was already gone.

Now I'm not so sure.

The Blue Ridge Half (and full) Marathon toys with my emotions. It has for 4 out of the past 5 years. Actually, even the one year I couldn't run after an injury it messed with my mind because I missed it so much.

If you happened to come here looking for some kind of race recap, I apologize for my lack of finding the right words to explain it.

It's just one of those race weekends that you have to experience yourself to fully understand why I have this reaction.

Thinking ahead

Blue Ridge MarathonWith moving this summer and a new baby on the way, I feel like I'm on fast forward with life. Yet things with running and what I want to do as year 10 begins on Jan. 1, things are becoming clear. I'm closing out this year with two races (Richmond Half and the Surf 'n' Santa 10 Miler) that should help set the tone for a more dedicated winter training cycle. I love the colder weather, but I struggled this past winter after catching the flu.

By not training for a fall marathon, I won't end the year run down; instead I'll begin headed toward a new peak. Figuratively and literally.

I'm once again signed up for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, Va. This year I've learned that I want to experience new challenges. While I want to get faster, I setting PRs aren't at the top of my priority list. As I look ahead to how I want to celebrate 10 years of running, conquering this marathon simply tops my list.

I haven't run it yet because 1) I've been unprepared; 2) One year I was coming off injury; and 3) I've been scared.

I've been so focused on Shamrock every year that a marathon a month later never felt right. Next year, though, I feel more confident that I can approach Shamrock as a training race and turn my focus to Blue Ridge.

August goals update

  • 1,000 total push-ups: Currently at 649
  • More biking miles than running miles: Currently 41.3 biking, 40.1 running
  • Increase long run to 10 miles: 8.2; going for 10 this weekend

Epic? I'm going there

Run for Boston, #runforboston The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon weekend can be summed up in one word: epic.

I hope you know that "epic" has never been used to describe any event from me. I did use it in a post a couple of weeks ago when I hinted at what I was going to do at the Monument Avenue 10k, but I didn't bust it out. I even looked up the definition to make sure something there fit well. "Impressively great" works for me.

I use it with caution, but I'm using it nonetheless because it just was. I'm not even going to disclose everything here either -- it's just one of those things for the memory bank and great stories to tell others in person.

In addition to my first post on Sunday, here are some other weekend highlights and thoughts.

    • The elevation change: Blue Ridge Half elevation
    • My actual race performance was disappointing. I was exactly a minute slower than last year. In 2012, I put too much effort going up Mill Mountain; this year was too conservative. Despite a couple of fast miles coming down Mill Mountain (7:20 for mile 5, 7:40 for mile 6), I couldn't make up the time I lost going up the mountain (mile 2 was a little more than 10 miles, mile 3 was in 12:10). I did manage to have a negative split, just not negative enough to feel fully satisfied. Running 13.1 miles in the week leading up to the race didn't help, but I have no regrets. I know I can get closer to 1:50 in this race ... eventually.
    • WDBJ7 interviewed me about #RunChat.
    • In addition to hanging out with great people I mentioned in my last post, I hung out with these awesome people:

      Blue Ridge Marathon

      2013 Blue Ridge Marathon

    • That makes for two years in a row of some awesome socializing at this race, plus I had the opportunity to make this a working weekend helping both Foot Levelers and the Blue Ridge Marathon with some social media posts.
    • I feel like WDBJ7's photo of me with Bart Yasso and Amy really sums up my weekend. All smiles. A celebration of running. Doing it all for Boston. Uniting as a community.

As for what's next, I really don't know. All my plans and thoughts have been thrown out the window.

For now, I'm just enjoying running to run. ...

Socializing at Blue Ridge

Despite not having the best feeling race on Saturday, the Blue Ridge Half Marathon was fun for so many reasons beyond the race. This event turned out to be one of the most social races I've been a part of, finally meeting quite a few people from Twitter and dailymile. It was also special because the company who pays me in my day job had a huge part of the marathon, so I got to hang out at the expo for several hours. I also go to be behind-the-scenes of shooting a course video, which you can view here on YouTube.

As part of being at the expo I got to once again meet running legend Bill Rodgers, who I first met in October at the Baltimore Marathon expo.

Bill Rodgers, Roanoke, Va.

Blue Ridge, Roanoke, Bill Rodgers

Check out an interview a couple of my co-workers did with Bill following the race.

* * *

While at the expo I met Tim, aka The Beer Runner.

The Beer Runner

Tim has a great interview with Bill here and an excellent recap of his Blue Ridge Half experience here. Tim was 3rd overall in the half marathon. We didn't get to drink together, but I'm hoping he'll return next year.

* * *

Also at the expo I met Kevin of Just Finish (pictured below) and Mike (aka DirtDawg50k), both of whom were running the Blue Ridge "Double." Yes, that means running America's Toughest Road Marathon twice. Back to back.

Just Finish at the Blue Ridge Expo

* * *

During the race I met Krissy, who blogs at Shiawase Life. Krissy was actually running this race thanks to me as she won my race entry giveaway last fall. She recognized my green shoes and my #runchat sticker I had on my back. About a quarter mile into the race she tapped me on my shoulder to introduce herself. We ended up running most of the first mile together. Her recap is here.

Below is Krissy, me and Jay (@iJasonYu on Twitter). Jay and I have known each other for several years and met a few times while I lived in Richmond.

Blue Ridge Half Marathon group

* * *

Jay makes another appearance below with Shane (@ctnhd on Twitter), who I met and had a couple of beers with the night before. The three of us ended up literally opening a bar after the race, as you can see in the blurry picture below.

Blue Ridge, Roanoke, beer

* * *

During the race, I met Ginny (@ginny26_2 on Twitter), who like Krissy recognized the shoes. We ran together for about a half mile up the mile 2 hill until I made the half marathon turn up Mill Mountain.

Ginny has a great recap of her marathon experience on her Happy Feet 26.2 blog.

* * *

Lastly my fellow co-worker Josh (@nsydyrhd on Twitter) was volunteering and hanging out at the finish area. Despite feeling pretty miserable, I made sure I was having a good time.

Finish line, Blue Ridge Half

Blue Ridge Half, finish

* * *

Two years ago I called this race an "Instant Classic." This year I feel exactly the same. My race performance aside, this is a must-do event for me for years to come.