Monthly Archives: January 2018

Running the Clearwater Distance Classic Marathon

My opportunity to run the Clearwater Distance Classic Marathon came about when my boss knocked on my office door and announced “Do I have an opportunity for you, and it includes some travel.”  After accepting the “opportunity” my runners brain kicked into high gear.

Did I familiarize myself on the topic of the work related opportunity?  Nooooooooo 

Did I make travel arrangements?  That could wait! 

Did I tell my wife, DUH, I’m a runner, but I’m not crazy, I told my wife then I did the next best thing.  I scoured the internet looking for an “opportunity” to race while away on business.

The Clearwater Distance Classic provided a few race options, the Ultra 50k, the Marathon, a Half-marathon, a 5-miler and a 5k.  I choose to run the marathon for a number of reasons.  Namely, I didn’t want to beat myself up 2 weeks prior to running “the Light 2 Light 50-mile race” in the Outer Banks.  The marathon seemed liked the perfect compromise for me.

[Tweet Read about “Brian’s aka @cledawgs marathon run at the Clearwater Distance Classic, did he score another sub-four?”]

Arriving in Tampa around noon on Saturday I hot footed it from the airport over to the Expo to pick up my race package.  The expo was located at Coachman Park in Clearwater on Saturday and Sunday morning before the race.  Most races do not offer race day packet pick up and I was thankful this race did just in case I was faced with some travel issues.

After surviving the winter blues the last few weeks in Virginia and North Carolina where temperatures dropped into the teens,  it was very nice to have race day “morning” temps hovering in the mid 50s.  I arrived on site early enough to get settled into my racing mood, listen to some old school rock & roll (“summer breeze makes me feel fine….”) and watch the race day crowd gather.  When it was time to line up for the start of the race I positioned myself among a pack of runners behind the 4-hour pacer.  I had no real goal in mind for this race.  I didn’t taper, I didn’t eat all that well prior to the race and I really had no agenda in mind.  I viewed this race as an opportunity to check “the run a marathon in Florida box” and have some fun along the way.

The starting line provided a wonderful back drop with the Clearwater bridge in the background.  As wonderful as this was for my pre-race selfie it also reminded me that although this course was pretty flat, we had to cross two of those bridges enroute to our 26.2-mile finish.  The Clearwater bridge would challenge us at the 1-mile mark.

Moments before the National anthem was sung I finally arrived with my race day plan.  I decided to hang with the 4-hour pacer until around mile 20 or as long as I could.  My mind set for the past few marathons has been to pace myself in the early miles so that I have something left in the tank to “put up a fight” in the end.  The gun went off and the game of follow the leader was on.  For 17 miles I hung back from the 4-hour group but close enough to keep them in sight.  This tactic did wonders keeping the pressure off as we made our way through aid stations and bottlenecks along the course.

Overall this course provided some stunning waterfront views.  I enjoyed running along the beaches, among the stately homes, through the shopping district and enjoyed the many picturesque views while crossing the water ways.  The only part of the course that got tedious was the very long stretches where it felt like we were running along one seemingly endless road.  There is no way to sugar coat it, that is just what we did.  In hind sight this forever out and back loop made the miles click off almost unnoticed.  Before long the 17-mile marker came into view and I wondered where the miles had gone.  We reached the single digits without the droning count down of time and distance.  The latter stages of the race came about without any major mental hurdles it was then that I noticed I had some life, some spunk, some fight and vigor left in my legs.

(it got hot…)

It’s always a scary when you swing out from behind the pacer and decide to make a move.  When pulling away on my own I always wonder, is it the right time?  Can I hold up?  Will I hit the wall down the road and regret my move?  Fear creep into my spirit as I wondered what would happened if I fell off the pace, as I have in the past, and they caught me in the waning miles?

Today this was not going to happen.  Over the next nine miles my legs never let me down, my rhythm never seemed to change.  My plan was working to near perfection.  As I ran past the 20-mile sign and punched a hole in “the wall” a new thought came to the forefront.

Could I set a new Personal Record (PR)?  Could I better my time (3:53:47) at Myrtle Beach just a year ago?

It was time to attack.  Once clear of the pack I drafted off of anyone who could break up the wind in front of me.  I focused on chasing down the runner in front of me, then the next, the next and the next runner after that.  Silently I counted the number of runners I caught from behind and used this game as motivation to push even harder to add to the tally.   Then it happened, I could hear them approaching from behind.  I could hear them talking at first.  The conversation grew louder and louder.  Next I could hear the sounds of their footfall reeling me in.  My. Heart. Sank.  I was caught by a much younger couple who were making great time.  Fear departed my battle wore brain when it was apparent that they were the only ones in hot pursuit.   I did the only thing I could, latched on to their hip and used their energy to pull me along for the next two miles running at below a 8:20 pace.

Some times running a faster race time is not about running faster…it’s about tactics and race day strategies.  My book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) can help you set new PRs and run your best races.

I ran the following miles and up the remaining hills as fast as I could and cannon balled down the downhill’s.  I dreamed up every motivational tip I could to get every once of speed, to quicken my leg turnover, to fuel my rapid succession of footfall and cut every corner to shorten the race.  I ran the remaining nine miles in a fashion that would make anyone proud.

I gave the closing miles of this race everything I had.  I ran hard…and I pushed myself to run a touch quicker.  I ran into an uncomfortable zone and did not let up.  As the race came to an end I could feel a crash coming on but I continued to fight all the way to the finish line.

After all of this I came up short of my PR, while running my second fastest marathon and my 5th sub-four finish on a day I would have been satisfied to simply finish.

I may not have declared a real goal to the world but I reached both of my unofficial goals just the same…I wanted to run a race in Florida, and I wanted to have fun.  Opportunity accepted,  and taken advantage of.  Thank You Boss!

I’ll next challenge the sub 4-hour marathon mark and my marathon PR at the Myrtle Beach Marathon (BBMBM) and the Cleveland Marathon, (BBCLE10) come run one of these great races with me using the discount codes for a special discounted entry fee.

Running in the winter survival guide – ultra-marathon crazy

Sitting back after the 5th running of my Ultra Crazy 50 training run during a rather harsh cold snap in North Carolina I am reminded of a few cold weather/winter running tips.

1.  Dress to run and dress in layers, but don’t overdress.  At the start of any cold weather run you want to feel slightly chilled.  If you feel nice and toasty before you run a single step…imagine how hot you’ll be after 5-miles?  Being as warm as a bug in the rug might sound and feel good, but once you start to sweat…and that sweat turns into damp clothes, you won’t feel so good when the chills set in.

[Tweet “Running 50-miles in the cold, Brian, @cledawgs offers up some survival tips.”]

2.  Keep your hydration from freezing.  For our 50-mile run we ran four 12.5-mile loops.  Our loop had us out on the trails, away from running water for anywhere between two and two and half hours.  This extended time in the elements had our hydration bladders and drinking tubes and hand-held bottles frozen solid.  To remedy this:

A. Adding a little bit of oil, sugar or salt to your water will harmlessly lower its natural freezing point (I’ve heard alcohol does the same)

B.  You can carry your hydration on the inside of your clothes or jackets next to your body

C.  Take little sips more often to prevent the water from settling in the bladder or hose

D.  Blow back into the tube after you drink to keep the path clear 

3.  Keep an eye on the trails/road.  Umstead was snow covered and beautiful this Saturday  but she was also dangerous.  A snow-covered surface can hide a lot of hazards, ice, roots, rocks, pot holes etc.  It is best to run with caution and an eye on the ground.

4.  Bridges freeze first.  The bridges that provided a wonderful backdrop for our mid-summer selfie was an iced covered hockey rink.  When running in the winter beware, it just might be a good idea to walk.  We had four bridges to cross over and each one was a bit slick.

5.  Make your pit stops fast.  If it’s the call of nature or time to resupply and refill your water bottle do it fast.  It is surprising how quickly your body cools down when you’re not moving.  Sure I was cool while running, 10 hours out in the elements will do that to you, but the only time I really felt “COLD” was while making our refueling pit stops.

The difference between running a race and “racing” a race can be boiled down to tactics.  My book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) bridges the gap between training and racing.

6.  Shoe Gaiters are not just for sand, rocks, stones and trail grime.  Shoe gaiters are great for keeping snow out of your shoes.  And if you must go off trail, try to keep your shoes dry, starting a long run with wet feet on a frigid day is a sure way to get on the sad panda super highway.

7.  Have a sense of humor about the conditions.  If you let the cold, the wind, and the pain get to you it’s going to be a very long day.  Nothing makes the time go by faster than a smile and a good laugh.  We had a good group who helped each keep their spirits up when things got tough.  We never feed the trolls.

And finally, Embrace the pain…”if it was easy, anyone could do it.” It’s called an Ultra-Marathon, not so much for the distance but for the ULTRA-CRAZY people who do what we do.

Running 2017, a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathons

2017 was a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathon success and coming up short.  I’m not going to use the word “failure” instead I’ll say…”coming up short.”  Coming up short of your goals is still a degree of success if you, got to the starting line, dared to dream big and gave it the best you had.  I ran 1,959 miles in 2017, I stood on the starting line of 11 race, all 26.2 miles plus and managed my way through three different minor injuries.  Not an excuse for coming up short, just some simple facts.  I also had an outstanding year!

Yearly Mileage: 2500/ Came up short 1959.4
Avg. Monthly Mileage: 200+/ Came up short 163.3
Avg. Weekly Mileage: 50+/ Came up short 37.6
Set Monthly PR 250+ / Came up short 220.6
Run Two, 100-mile Races / Done
Set 100-mile PR / Done
Run another sub-4 hour marathon / Done x 2
Set marathon PR / Done

Aside from the running goals, I wanted to get my book “Running to Leadville” out into the world.  I wanted to get the story in the hands of runners and non-runners alike to inspire, entertain and to motivate others to live an epic life.   At the end of the year I’m overwhelmed by the success.

In turn, you have inspired me to keep writing, keep dreaming and to keep running.

Thank you.  You can pick up a copy on Amazon or a signed copy from my blog.

[Tweet “A look at Brian’s aka @cledawgs 2017 Running year, a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathon success and coming up short”]

JANUARY: The year started off great with the 4th running of Brian’s Ultra Crazy 50 at William B. Umstead state park, in Cary, NC.  This event started as a training run for my very first 100-mile race back in 2014.  Facing the 100-mile race I needed a long run and a group of friends came out to help me.  This ultra crazy long run has has since grown into an annual event.  2017 saw five finishers…

Joshua D. 2017/002
Eric H. 2017/003
Randall W. 2017/004
Elisa S. 2017/005
Andrea M. 2017/001 with Horace the Horse Ist Non-human Finisher

Each 50-mile finisher walked away with a custom finishers award.

FEBRUARY:  The mixed bag of success and coming up short began when the injury bug came a calling with a calve injury days before the race.  During an easy slow run my right calve cramped so bad I was forced to drop out of the Uwharrie Mountain Run, a 40-mile trail race in Asheboro, NC.   From the lows came some highs!  Bryan S. and his great staff at Run-N-Tri Outfitters of Wake Forest, NC hosted my very first running seminar on “Surviving your 1st Ultra-Marathon” and a book signing for “Running to Leadville.”

MARCH:   After some down time because of the injury bug, Michele and I were off to the Beach.  At the Myrtle Beach marathon expo I was able to team up with Shane M. of Roanoke Island Running Company for a “Running to Leadville” book signing.  It was a great day hanging with Shane, talking about the race and meeting new friends.  Then on a cool morning, with a flat course and some fresh legs I was able to set a new marathon PR (3:53:47).  Looking for a spring race that is fast…I would highly suggest you run the Myrtle Beach Marathon, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We had such a great time we will be back in 2018….use code BBMBM for a discount on race entry.

APRIL:   After the marathon success it was time to face the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run once again.  I ran the first 50-miles with my good friend Eric H. as he took on his first 100-mile race.  AND with a ton of help from friends I was able to score a 100-mile PR of 21:36:36.  Then it was time to get ready for the annual 24 hour run at Sandy Bottom, in between I joined the Peninsula Track Club in Hampton, VA for a seminar on “How to tackle your first ultra) and Running to Leadville book signing.  In my 8 years running this race I thought I had run in every weather condition possible until it got hot….hot, hot….and HOTTER still.  Team RUN4LIFE not only did not melt, they melted the course record Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer, in Newport News, VA.

RUN4LIFE took the team Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years with a course record 914 miles.

MAY:  2017 only got busier…I took my running shoes on two road trips in May.  First linking up with Shane and Heather at Roanoke Island Running Company for a Saturday morning run and Q&A session on tips for “ultra-marathon success” and “Running to Leadville” book signing.  

The second road trip started with a stop in Fredricksburg, VA where I got to hang out with the wonderful folks of Lucky Road Running store.  After a great talk with Jeff and his super customers we traveled to the Cleveland Marathon for a two day book signing at the Expo and a 26.2-mile run along the roads of Cleveland, Ohio.

JUNE:  The heat of the summer kicked in and it was time to hit the mountains.   My friend Josh and I headed to Northern Virginia to run the Eastern Divide 50k, in Pembroke, Va.  Great mountain race with tons of climbing and an equal amount of heat.

JULY:   The summer theme seemed to be “run up a mountain,” when George N. RD of the Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer talked me into running the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, in Boone, NC.  It was hot, hard and well worth it… Summer 2017 would be known for three hot summer races.

AUGUST:  A local favorite got my goat last year.  The 2016 edition of the meltdown saw me DNF’d while running in the lead two-some.  This year it was time for some revenge at the MEDOC Mountain Meltdown 50kplus.

SEPTEMBER:   When you click the registration button on a 100-mile race, it just kind of of lives in the back of your mind haunting you until race morning.  Such was the case with the Yeti 100.  I thought about the race all year…  Standing on top of White Top Mountain it was finally time to look for the Yeti and run my second 100-mile race of the year and my 4th 100-mile race overall.

The Yeti 100, on the Virginia Creeper Trail, is a great race, and captures trail running at it’s roots.  Jason G. and his gang at Yeti Trail Runners put on a great race with some one-of-a-kind flair to keep you moving.  At the end of the trail I was so very happy to get a big hug from Mr. Yeti himself and score my very own sub 24-hour belt buckle.  That’s four sub-24 hour 100s if your counting…hot dawg.  Hot YETI….

OCTOBER:  No rest for the Yeti in all of us, road trip time again…Michele and I headed to the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, TN.  On Saturday we spent the day hanging out at the expo, launching my newest book, 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter).

Sunday, Michele ran the 5k and I took on the 7 bridges challenge….and got an extra .63 mile to boot.  The marathon carried a special meaning for me, I ran to honor a little boy who only lived seven days…I ran for Isaiah.

NOVEMBER:  Regretfully I had to drop out of the City of Oaks Marathon, in Raleigh, NC…this is a great race, but coming off the Yeti 100 and a marathon two weeks later my legs were fried.  I needed some lower mileage days to get some zip back in the wheels.  Next up would be the Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina.

What a great two days I got to spend in the Outer Banks.  I got to spend a cold, and windy Saturday indoors hanging out with good friends, new friends and other Yeti finishers talking about running and pedaling books at the Outer Banks Marathon EXPO  Then on a near perfect Sunday, a goal of simply finishing turned into an unexpected sub-four hour marathon performance.

November saw another big running accomplishment come off the board.  After years of trying, after countless times when my friends got me into the run, only to have life get in the way, I was FINALLY able to join the Mangum Track Club completing the 14+ mile shirt run.  What a great day it was….  It won’t be my last shirt run!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I got to run with a great group in Cleveland, Ohio…the Trail Tribe.

DECEMBER: As in life everything was going great until it wasn’t.  Maybe my favorite 50k, the Seashore 50k, Virginia Beach, Va was my entry into the ultra race world.  This year I was going back for my 5th finish and my 5-time finishers belt buckle.  UNTIL my left IT band decided it wasn’t the right day to claim my prize.  With great regret I dropped out at the half way point.

I didn’t get the finish I wanted or the belt buckle…but I did get some awesome pictures.  At this point I was trying to keep it all together.  I was also disappointed as with this race I was running for something bigger I was running #sidneystrong to support Sidney Povish a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with (B-All) Lukemia.   Her father Brian was one of the four hour marathon pacers who helped me reach my goal at the OBX marathon.  Pls help if you can.  

I hope you had a great 2017 and wish you an outstanding 2018 and beyond.

What awesome 2017 running high lite do you have to share with the world…post it in the comments section below.