Looking ahead to the Syracuse Half Marathon

Whew! Happy Friday! Between a hectic schedule and trying to prep for another race weekend away, this week has gone by quick. Travis has been doing local travel for work nearly every day this week and we’ve also had two registration nights for baseball. We’re coaching mini tee ball again this year and Travis was also asked to be the commissioner for the league. He’s going to be traveling for a month at the end of April so I’ll be taking half of the season as coach and he’ll take the other half.

 

We’ve also kicked into high gear in terms of preparation for our annual Piece By Piece 5K. We finalized the medal design early this week and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We’ve also secured some great sponsors confirmed. It’s shaping up to be another great race! If you’re not local to us and would like to participate, there’s a virtual option available. As always, all proceeds from the race will be donated to Team Up! with Autism Speaks. You can click HERE for our race website!

We’re headed out first thing tomorrow morning for Syracuse. First stop will be at Fleet Feet Sports for bib pick up and their #bantheblizzard party. We’ll grab an early dinner and then we’ve got evening tickets for the traveling production of Wicked. I”m beyond excited about this! I’ve been dying to see it on Broadway, but every time we’re in the city we’ve typically got the kids with us so it hasn’t been a possibility. They’re doing a 10 day run in Syracuse that matched up perfectly with the race weekend so we jumped at the chance to see the show.

In terms of the race, in true North Country fashion the weather is looking pretty miserable. Thankfully, unlike last year we’re not looking at blizzard conditions…but temps in the 40’s and a 70 percent chance of rain. I’ve never run more than a few miles in the rain, so I’ll take any tips you have! I’m planning on bringing several options just in case the weather decides to change

On Wednesday evening, the Syracuse Half announced that starting this year they would now be a fall race. This means that there will be two 2017 races. The one this weekend, and one in November. We’re considering signing up for the fall race as well! Bad weather seems to be a given with this race, so we’ll see what the date change will bring!

We’ll be posting on Instagram/Twitter all weekend, so you can follow along if you’d like! Have a great weekend!

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Picking Up Where I Left Off…in NYC

It’s been over four months but its nice to be able to say the words, it’s race week! My first event of 2017 takes me back to the big apple to participate in the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon for the first time.

After wrapping up my 2016 season at the NYC Marathon in early November, I took the remainder of the year off and began training for this event in early January. Sadly, training has not been very successful and has been riddled with missed workouts, poor performances and nagging injuries.

I reached out to my wife’s running coach, Denny Krahe,  to gain some insight into my struggle these past 3 months. The short answer he concluded was a lack of rest – primarily regular sleep. I have been working an overnight work schedule and getting a solid block of sleep where I wake up feeling refreshed has been nearly impossible. Unfortunately, since I can’t change whats happened, I am forced to adjust my goals for my two races this month.

Despite my setbacks, I’m excited to head back to New York City and experience the city in a whole new way. I’ll be making the trip without Jen or kids this time and staying with a friend a little outside of the city. The morning of the race is full of logistical nightmares since it’s a weekend, trains and buses into the city do not run their normal schedules and it looks like we are going to be forced to drive into the city. Heaven help us!

Stay tuned here for recap of my adventure and be sure to check out our Twitter and Instagram this weekend.

Chicago Marathon Weekend — Before the Race

Preparations for our Chicago trip were in full swing for most of last week. One of the most important things that had to be done before we left was a haircut. During the course of fundraising for Team Up! a friend had told me he was willing to make a sizeable donation this year, but I was going to have to earn it. An idea was thrown out and when another friend caught wind of it he agreed to match the donation. For a $400 donation, I had agreed to shave something into the back of my hair and it had to remain for the entirety of our trip.  This is the result:

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It’s a 13 hour drive from Upstate New York to Chicago, so to make it easier on the kids we left at bedtime on Thursday night. Within the span of a few minutes both kids were snoring in the back seat leaving us able to drive a solid chunk of the trip without having to stop. Traveling this way has it’s pros and cons – the kids sleep but that leaves us staying up the entire night driving – it’s exhausting!

Our first stop was at O’Hare International Airport to pick up our back up for the weekend – Grandma! She flew in from Michigan for the weekend to help us out with the kids while we attended the various activities that we had planned. Poor timing on our part left us stuck in early morning Chicago traffic. Once we left the airport it took us nearly an hour to get over to the expo.

Once we arrived at McCormick Place and walked what seemed like a mile to get to the actual expo it was time to pick up bibs! The kids were a little overwhelmed with the amount of people so they hung out with Grandma outside while we visited some of the vendors and did a little shopping. We also stopped at the Nike pace booth to sign up for a pace group for Sunday.

After the expo we were all pretty hungry so we checked into our hotel and set out for food. After dinner we were all pretty exhausted from traveling all night so it was an early bedtime.

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early as I had registered to run the Chicago International 5K.

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 The first International Chicago 5k began at Daley Plaza, where the Chicago Marathon starting line was many years ago. It was a great event and great start to the weekend. The course ran along Lake Michigan and finished a short distance from the marathon finish line. It was a timed event but I was using it as a shakeout run, so I just enjoyed the views and went for a three mile jog. 

We had plans to take the kids to the Shedd Aquarium so once the 5K was complete we picked up the kids and Grandma and made our way back across town.  We also had something extra special planned for the Aquarium. Parker was going to get a chance to meet his IRun4 buddy who flew in from New Orleans to run the marathon with Team Up! We were all very excited to get the chance to meet Rachel and her boyfriend. They spent the morning with us while we checked out all of the exhibits. Both kids had a blast – they especially loved the penguins!

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After several hours at Shedd it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Team Up! Chicago team dinner. Just like last year it was held at Maggiano’s Little Italy. We got a chance to meet some other team members who would be running the next day. I also had the opportunity to speak and share a little bit about our family and our reasons for choosing to run with Team Up!

 

After spending a couple of hours at the dinner it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready to tackle 26.2 the next morning!

 

2016 Piece by Piece 5k presented by SLS3

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This year we were pleased to partner with SLS3 for our Piece by Piece 5K. We would like to thank SLS3 for their support and we encourage everyone to support them as well by visiting their website and seeing what they have to offer you!

Putting on a 5k is a ridiculous amount of work. We are exhausted! Our Piece by Piece 5k was held last weekend and we couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.

The family friendly Piece by Piece 5K Walk/Run presented by SLS3 benefited Team Up! with Autism Speaks – an organization dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. It is Autism Speaks firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals. The cause is bigger than the obstacles…but Piece by Piece we will succeed.

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We had a total of 131 registered participants across both walking and running divisions; although this year we again had more walkers than runners. This is because we are a family friendly event and we strongly encouraged those with autistic family members to come and participate. Registration went much smoother this year with the addition of a second registration table and separating the pre-registered from those registering the day of the event. Music was provided by a DJ to help entertain everyone during registration and afterwards.

The weather was great again this year with some clouds and temperatures in the 70’s.We started the walkers first to give them a chance to get ahead and get thinned out; runners followed about 15 minutes later at 9:00 a.m. sharp. When everyone finished running/walking, we had more than enough food waiting for them including: water, Gatorade, bananas, oranges, watermelon, bagels with cream cheese and granola bars .

Our top male and female runners crossed the finish line together, as a couple.

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Medals were awarded to all who participated and those who were fast enough earned age group awards as well.

 

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In addition to our medals each runner walked away with a $25 gift certificate from our title sponsor SLS3. We also had a lot of raffle prizes to give away:

  1. Brooks Running Shoes
  2. Casino Gift Certificates Package
  3. Partridge Run Golf Gift Certificates for 2 people 18 holes w/ cart (2)
  4. Glow Salon and Day Spa Gift Certificate for 60-Minute Hydro Massage
  5. Showroom Details Wash & Wax
  6. SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt
  7. Between The Buns $25
  8. 2 Mama Birds Necklace
  9. BibFolio
  10. Painting
  11. Vervilles Flowers $25
  12. Jamberry Nail Set
  13. Nuun Water bottle with 2 tubes (2)
  14. Road ID (8)
  15. Jamberry Single Custom Autism Wrap
  16. Pizza Hut Large Pizzas (2)
  17. Clarkson University Hat
  18. iSpy Bag

The winner of the 50/50 was so nice, they donated it right back to the charity. In total, we raised $2,200 to donate to Team Up! with Autism Speaks.Last year we raised $1,580 so this was great considering we actually had one less person participate this year.

We would like to take one more opportunity to thank all of our wonderful sponsors. Without your help our event would not have been possible. We are hoping to have the event return for it’s third installment next year and are already thinking of ways that we can continue to improve!

Run The Year- 2016

We are partnering with Run The Edge to participate in their Run The Year 2016 Challenge. We received a complementary registration for the challenge but are not receiving any other compensation. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

We’ve talked a little bit about our goals for 2016 (Travis will be sharing his soon) and today we wanted to share with you another challenge that we’ve decided to take on. Run The Year 2016.

  
Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano (motivational speakers and authors of the book  Run The Edge) have created this challenge for the year 2016. The idea is simple: 366 days; 2,016 miles. The miles can be walked or ran and done individually or as a team of up to 3 people (we will be doing our miles as a team). What better way to push yourself going into the new year than committing to run 2,016 miles?! In 2015 over 25,000 people accepted the challenge and 2016 is expected to be bigger!

Here’s how it works:

-Register for the challenge. There are several options available! You can register for just the challenge alone, or go all in and get the shirt and medal!

Included in registration:

*The world’s first online race expo! New for 2016 you will have 366 days of access to the expo where each booth will have a different experience! Booths will include some brand favorites like Nuun, Oiselle, Balega and Soleus!

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*Mileage tracker– as a Run The Year participant you will have access to a unique mileage tracker. The miles are on the honor system so you don’t have to have a GPS to participate!

*Access to the Aid Station, Training Room, Nutrition Bar and Listening Lounge– you will have access to health training and nutrition advice from some of the best in the business to help you achieve your goals!

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*Training Plans– as a participant you will have access to Run The Edge training plans valued at over $180!

*366 days of prizes and giveaways from the sponsors!

*Access to a private Facebook group where you can get all of the support and motivation from other participants!

You will also receive a bib for every 100 miles you complete in the challenge including a bib for mile one and mile 2,016.

So, who wants to join us and commit to 2,016 miles in 2016?! 

Black Friday Special! Use the code GetLegs2016 for free shipping on t-shirts and medals!

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NYC Marathon Weekend Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and the start to your work went went smoothly. I’m now back home from my weekend in New York City and ready to share with you my experience.

I ran the NYC Marathon with Team Up! with Autism Speaks, my second event with them after Chicago in October. I arrived to the area late Thursday evening and stayed with a close friend in New Jersey for the weekend. On Friday morning we hopped on the NJ Transit and headed into the the city for the race expo.

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We arrived at the Javits Convention Center and headed straight to packet pick-up.

There was absolutely no line and I walked right up to receive my bib – 7870.

After receiving my race bib we headed further into the expo starting with the race merchandise section. This area was absolutely huge and crowded as ever. I tried to take a picture capturing the scale of merchandise but my photo does not do it justice.
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I decided against buying anything here for two reasons – I preordered what I wanted and the checkout line took over an hour!! We continued making our way around the expo, stopping at booths, taking pictures and even talking with Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World. We spent about three hours exploring the expo before we left and took a subway to Central Park to visit the finish line.

Central Park was a fury of activity with crews and volunteers preparing fencing around the finish line, completing the finish line area, setting up medical tents, grandstands and hauling the supplies and gear needed on race day. Add to that the visitors to the park and the NYC Marathon Pavilion located near the finish line and it was pretty crowded. The pavilion included race merchandise, photo opportunities, and a stage with guest speakers and video presentations.

After a while we found our way back to the subway and headed to Times Square and the Hard Rock Cafe for the Team Up! charity dinner. Dinner was delicious and served up with inspirational stories and speeches from runners from all walks of life. I met one person, Chris Beck, in Chicago last month as he continues to run all six Abbott World Marathon Majors in one year for Team Up! and enjoyed getting to catch up again before this race. I would encourage you all to follow him on his journey – Instagram and Twitter @IRunForOwen.
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My day was almost over but first I made a pit-stop at Junior’s to pick up a slice of cheesecake for the wife. On Saturday I did absolutely nothing. I mean that in the most literal since of the world as my Garmin only registered 2,600 steps for the whole day. I spent most of the day on the couch with my feet up while I hydrated and watched television. I made sure to get my gear ready for the next morning and I was in bed early.

4:00 a.m. comes early no matter how much sleep you get, but luckily I was excited for the race so getting up was not an issue. After getting ready and eating a simple meal, we loaded up and headed to Meadowlands Stadium to catch the participant bus that would take me to the starting village on Staten Island. I arrived and loaded onto the first bus leaving and was on my way to the starting line.

As my first New York City Marathon experience, I thought the villages were well organized, well staffed with volunteers and believe it or not had plenty of porta-potties. The lines, at least where I was, were short with under a five minute wait. I wasn’t thinking ahead about blogging but I managed to remember to take a few pictures. My corral, Wave 1 – C, opened at 9:00 a.m. and I was one of the first through and right at the front.
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After entering the corral, I decided I was warm enough to remove my extra layers and as soon as I did something amazing happened. Individuals noticed the Team Up! shirt I was wearing and would come up and introduce themselves and share with me that their child has autism. They would wish me luck, some snapped a photo with me and then would go back to readying themselves. One gentleman in particular, running his 10th New York City Marathon, talked with me until the cannons signaled the start of the race. It was honor to meet each and every one of you.

The cannons blasting early in the morning signaled the race was underway. I crossed the start line 1:10 after the elite men, and that millisecond in time was the closest I’ll ever be to an elite!! The race, as always, was a blur.

For three hours plus I took in the sights of the five burroughs, listened to the roar of spectators, the awesome music being played on the course, dodged spectators crossing the course with strollers (seriously people?) and struggled with the painful realities of running a marathon.
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One of the best runners in history, Emil Zatopek would say: “if you want to run a race, run the mile, but if you want to experience something, run a marathon.” Experiences cannot be explained in a short blog. They must be lived. The New York City Marathon is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I encourage everyone to live it themselves.

Unfortunately the race was not my best. I struggled with the difficult course and my legs were zapped of energy; possibly the byproduct of Chicago 20 days earlier. I struggled after mile 18 and it tested my mental and physical strength. Getting a text from my wife towards the end helped get me across the finish line. I finished in 3:28:39. It wasn’t the race I wanted, but it was the race I was blessed with.
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I struggled with what to say about my race while writing this post, and then I found words very fitting. Written by Elizabeth Maiuolo, Development Director for Team Up! Autism Speaks in New York, she said, “The marathon is not about running a fast time, the marathon is about survival, it’s about showing up and measuring up to the challenge, it’s about the fight of the human spirit. It is tough, but you showed you are tougher. A marathon is a daunting task every day, no matter if it’s your first or your 10th, it is always hard. That is why the achievement is so special.”

She’s right. Some of the most inspiring stories are not mine or the winners; I’m inspired by those who couldn’t finish, but gave everything they had. I’m inspired by those who finished hours after the crowds had gone home and the streets grew dark. I’m inspired by those who helped others reach the finish line, sacrificing their personal goals for the collective.

New York was not a goal at the start of the year, I hadn’t even attempted entry. A profound chance of luck allowed me the opportunity to experience the world’s largest marathon. It truly is a wonderful, challenging race deserving of the World Marathon Major title. I’m grateful to Team Up! for the opportunities this year and look forward to races with them in the future.

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