Ideas, photos, routes, and how I fare doing all sorts of workouts. Riding, swimming, biking, etc. Dave Masterson's workout blog.

Archive for the category “races”

DTR Oleta 10 mile Full Moon Trail Race

oleta110 mi. I know Oleta River State Park trails, even if I haven’t ridden here in two years or more. There were good people doing this race – Ken Baxter and his 2 sons were running, Romo Melendez, Hamed, and Jodi and her new boyfriend, Randy. Julie and Frans were working at a water stop on the course, so this was made to enjoy.

I decided to wear my Saucony Grid Peregrine shoes from a few years ago, They have more grippers on the bottoms and should work better than road shoes.

I arrived early, did the easy packet pickup and took a small warmup lap on the trails near the parking lot. I had two lights, one belt mounted and a head lamp. I discovered the belt mounted light wasn’t bright enough for this use, it works ok for running on the road early mornings. The headlamp is probably best suited for camping, not the super bright trail setup I would need. My eyes aren’t as good in the dark, so if I continue doing these it will be with a MUCH better light.

The race started and I went with the first of two waves. My first mile was done in 7:10 – I only had one girl (Alice Henley) in front of me. Once we entered the single track, that’s when my lights and vision proved to be dim. I saw how easy it was to skip or trip and fall. I didn’t fall, thankfully. I caught myself tripping twice and I recovered in time. I did get momentary cramping in my calve muscles as I went through the “save” process. Both of these happened in the later half of the race.

At the end of the Half Pipe section, we run along the road by the cabins and then into section #3. I saw a girl wearing the iRun kit cheat – she came right across the road and tucked in behind me, even though I loudly spoke to her twice and said, “NOT COOL!” She never passed me but I hoped to see her try that during the remainder of the race.

I had a few younger guys pass me on course, maybe 4 or 5. I was focused on not allowing anyone that could be in my ten-year span age group to pass me. I counted off the miles in my head – saying “3 miles clear” meaning no falls. I was careful in that respect, knowing a bad ankle pull or roll would cause me to have to walk back.

Just after mile 6, I didn’t see any markers or reflective arrows. I tried to back up on the trail, then I couldn’t find the original trail! I waiting in one place for the next runner to come down the trail. A guy came down, I asked if he had passed mile 6 yet, and he thankfully answered, “Yes.” I ran with him, he went ahead a bit,  then slowed to walk. We passed each other a few times – finally, he fell back and I didn’t see him again.


I ran up the only real hill on the course, I saw a photographer and heard people cheering ahead. When I ran up the hill, a guy yelled at me to not run towards the photographer, he questioned if I was looking for “more gains.” I really couldn’t see a difference, so I kept going until I almost ran into the photographer! They said my lights were low and asked if I wanted to borrow a candle or iPhone. Yeah, hint taken.

The final trail section was on a trail called Rocky Mile. It was tough, the limestone rocks and roots made for tough foot placement. I saw the “verification” timing mat hidden in the woods, right at mile #8. It took my best concentration in the final miles to run clean and not fall.

Once out of the woods, it was approx 1.5 miles to go. But I wasn’t going to do another 7 min mile. My legs felt heavy from the different type of running I had done. Up on my toes and plenty of side-to-side action had different muscles feeling it. Especially my feet! I saw the light of the guy behind me as I went around the “Caribbean” style beach, but he wasn’t going to catch me. I came in solo in 1:43:xx. This was best in the 50-59 age group, but there were no AG awards at this race.oleta3

I stayed after for about an hour. Hamed won 3rd place overall, I never saw Ken or his family, Frans and Julie came back just before I left. While waiting for the awards presentation, I took off my shoes and went in the water. There were “No Swimming” signs due to bacteria in the water, but I had to cool off and clean off. My feet and toes were cramping! The shell rocks and bumpy beach added to the discomfort.

A new headlamp and some off road practice before the next one, I promise!


Sunfest TGI5k 2017

Sunfest 5k time! It’s warm and sunny at 5:30 pm. But that’s not the whole story. We are delayed due to a train stuck blocking Okeechobee Blvd. Apparently, runners stuck on the other side called-in to friends on this side, which got to race management in time to stall the start.

I warm up by running down the first straightaway to the traffic circle, then to Flagler and south to First Baptist Church, now called Family Church. Maureen does the same warm up, looking to avoid pre-race anxiety as she experienced at the Garden of Life race. We do 3 descending sprints up the side of the church alleyway, that shows I’m running well with no issues to attend to.

The race begins after a 15-minute delay. I see Stacy Willette and Jamie Rogers at the start line, also John Reback is here. We start and I’m out of the crowd quickly, not too fast but making 5:35 pace for the first 400m to get clear. I settle into a 6:05-6:10 pace. Hamed and others are already ahead, they’ll get a great time or blow up in the heat. The first long straightaway is more than a mile long. I get to the first mile in 6:10. The second mile turns through the Sunset Park neighborhood and out onto Flagler Drive heading north. With wind supposedly coming from the Southwest, I should be enjoying the tailwind. It doesn’t feel like anything at all. I am in a good rhythm of breathing and exerting. I see the three lululemon girls cheering and go by Mile #2. My watch says I’m at 6:25 pace, I don’t want to slow down that much, I won’t finish under 20 minutes with that pace. I concentrate on the two guys ahead of me. They are lining up for a duel. We go under the Okeechobee tunnel and pop out on the Sunfest side. I see the first tent and Meyer Amphitheater – I know where this is going. I am funneled into the road by traffic cones. No one passes me, I pass one maybe two runners in the last 1000 meters. It’s very sunny and I keep the pace all the way to the finish arch. It’s a good one at 19:17. That’s enough to win for my age group, even as I am listed in an “Uncategorized Male” group with two others. Matt Triggs wins the 50-54 AG with a 20:11. I’m happy with the result!

It seemed as if we had a few moments of shade had the race started on time. Once we get to the finish, it is as if a shade gets pulled over the sun. I am in the shade of the large palm trees but it’s breezy and cool. a few beers from bib tickets and it’s a good race to grow from..


A 5k first! 

photo credit Andrea Moxey

Today I attended the 2nd Garden of Life 5k at PGA National Resort and Spa. I was a volunteer for this event like last year. For the first running of this race, I was at the “crossroads” of golf cart paths that get run past twice on the course. It’s an important spot where four cart paths meet that runners could mix up and go the wrong way.

This year I was the lead biker for the Elite Female division. Garden of Life has made a large investment into this really fun local event. Prizes for elites are $3k, $2k, $1k for male and female. Additionally, there are $100 prizes for the top runners in every age group! So the 500+ people from last year have now grown to near 1200 runners.

There are 10 designated “elite” slots for male and female respectively. Each athlete had to submit times to qualify to race for the cash prizes. If they win their age group and not a 1, 2, or 3 prize, they get the $100. I am tasked with riding the course in front of the elite ladies, some of these girls are from here. Regina Goolsby, Jen Nicholson, and Lee Dipietro are in there. One lady came from Massachusetts, Rachel Schilkowsky, she is on paper the fastest entrant.

Time to Run!

We take off only 2 minutes behind the men’s elite runners. They have several athletes that flew in from elsewhere to try for the prize money. The winner is Jordan Chipangama, a marathoner from Zambia. He came from Flagstaff, AZ for this race. I spoke with Jordan earlier, he is concerned someone can “take him on” in the 5k distance, not his strength. He ran in the Rio Olympics in the marathon for his country. His best marathon time is 2:11!

The ladies start is on time and Rachel is an early leader, surging quickly ahead of any contenders. They don’t pose any threat to her as we round the parking lot, hotel, and head onto the golf course. She is running well, definitely working for it, but pulling away by mile #1. This race and the $3000 prize for first place is all hers if she can stay ahead, which looks very likely. Only an injury or mishap could take it away – Rachel is powering hard behind me. I have to keep checking that I am ahead of her by enough, sometimes I coast and then get spooked when I turn around and think she might catch me. She doesn’t really get close to me, it’s just us two circling the course, we don’t see fans or any others until the midpoint water stop. There are WT Dwyer HS volunteers and a few adults cheering and handing out drinks. Rachel is so far ahead – my guess is a full 300-400m from the second place girl. We come around the next hole and double back to the water stop on the other side – now there are regular field runners hitting the first side of the dual water stop. I see Maureen Flynn walk through and head up the small roller labeled “Heartbreak Hill.” I lead Rachel through the “crossroads” path area, now she can see the finish. There is one slight rise on the course, but she can hear the cheers of those around the finish line. I see Bill, the lead cyclist in front of the men. He comes back riding towards me and says the winner finished in 14:26. Close behind second was run in 14:29 followed by the third place male in 14:47.

Rachel wins in 16:47, second for ladies is 17:40 and third place gets $1000 for a 19:01 finish. As was the case last year, Garden of Life gives out very impressive goodie bags filled with their products to all runners. I received one, I see it is different stuff from last year but plenty of bars and powders. This race is well done and may be outgrowing PGA National as a venue.

I’m happy I was a piece of the exciting morning only a few miles from my house. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to be the solo lead cyclist responsible for guiding an out-of-town girl to a $3000 prize, but it was fun to experience this side of volunteering for a 5k.


Strive for the Hive 5k

Strive for the Hive graphic

5k This one has a story –

shamrock2017greenYesterday was the 41st running of the Shamrock 10-miler and 5k. I was involved in running the Palm Beach Roadrunners tent. I was also tasked with making some announcements along with the awarding of overall awards. It was a successful and busy race with over 1000 entries. I did not run in either of the Shamrock events.

I met Deborah Feinsinger in February. She is a teacher at Allamanda Elementary School, and director of the Strive for the Hive annual 5k at the Gardens Mall. She offered a discount to any runners that wanted to do both races, Shamrock on Saturday and Strive 5k Sunday. In setting this up with her and our club, I decided to run the Strive 5k Sunday morning.

It was Daylight savings day – set the clock an hour ahead last night to have it be darker at 7am when I left the house for the mall. Dinner and wine last night wasn’t the best pre-race strategy, but my goal was to use this race as a base for my 5k time. From here I can be specific in my training to improve the 5k time as we have several coming up. Add to that I am not running any marathons for over 6 months, this is a good goal to train for.

I arrived at the mall moments after 7am. I took a lap around the mall slow with a  few pickups to 5:50-6 min miles. I wasn’t sure where the course went, I saw some mile markers and a water stop – I’d learn it for the race as I ran the race. I didn’t see April or Seth, April said she was running but perhaps had too much wine last night? Seth was last year’s winner, I think he ran yesterday at the Shamrock Run. I decided to run shirtless after the warm up jog around the mall, it would only get warmer and I didn’t feel the singlet was offering too much airflow.

The race began on time – we were told to follow a guy on a bike wearing a bright shirt. plenty of kids crowded the start line as they were eager to get their race going. I saw a few adults that had the “I run 5ks all the time” look. I figured there had to be a high school kid that would be using this as training. Nope. I ran with a few kids for the first 200m and then was alone behind the cyclist around the mall!

I did not plan on running at the front start-to-finish. It was neat to see people cheering at the first runner they saw. I didn’t want to peek back and see if there were any chasers, I wanted to keep on my pace for as long as possible. My watch had 5:58 at mile 1 and 11:59 turning to 12 at mile 2. Really? It was a surprise because several times I looked at the pace reading and saw 6:25, 6:15, 6:40. It was bouncing around. I was more concerned with keeping a lead in a race I had no intention of coming and winning. This would be more important than the time. I was good through 2.4 miles, then I felt my stomach tightening and my breathing becoming more labored. I didn’t hear anyone that close to me, as long as I didn’t cramp or fall, this would be my first OA win in a race like this.

The last marker was at 3 miles, two turns and I was home. I finished in 19:37, right about where I imagined I’d be. First female was Niki Desjardins, she knows Deborah Feinsinger from Orangetheory.

We had a good breakfast at Brio which is a post race amenity. I am glad I put things together to do the race and may this serve as a rung on the ladder of 5k specific improvement for me. I plan to do the Mercedes Corporate Run and probably Sunfest 5k, so a few more ahead!


Here’s a local news coverage video of the race…. Allamanda Strive 5 for the Hive

Ft Lauderdale A1A Marathon 2017

Year #12 for this race was back to the warm weather we have had in South Florida for many Palm Beach and A1A marathons. Temperatures at the start were 70 degrees, with a daily high of 87 degrees predicted. I was ready, I had a good formula from last year for preparation for nutrition and race day things. It did not come together for me this time. I ran the course in 3:36:01 – my slowest full marathon time since 2011.

Colavita Dinner

I was happy to be included in the Colavita Team again this year – we went to a very delicious dinner at Dino and Frank’s in Deerfield Beach. Most of the same runners were there with a spouse. Pam Figoras was a new addition, I drove down with her and her husband. Kristin Harvey got married to Bobby LaBonte of Nascar fame, so we met him, too.

Go to bed, Dave

I stayed with Helen McKenzie again, that works out very well. Her home is only 4 miles from the start. I can eat
early, which I did, and drive down before it gets dark. I made a similar salmon and quinoa/rice meal for myself at home, then drove down. Helen and her daughter ate more quinoa and sweet potatoes. I had some of those, also. I don’t believe any of that “extra” nutrition played with my stomach, everything felt fine heading to sleep Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, Helen’s friend Denise came to babysit while we went to the race. I showered, ate a banana and did the potentiation setting on Compex before leaving for the race. The drive and parking were easy – we left enough time to get prepared, drop off the after race bags and go for a Colavita Team picture.

The start area had less porta potty restrooms in the usual spot by the RR tracks. Apparently, they had a better idea, locate more at the Start line! They had many on either side of the corral. The lines of people waiting to use them spread out into the corrals, making it prohibitive to use the restrooms AND walk through the corrals! They had plenty of room behind the UPS trucks. Helen and I went further down the street and found a spot in the bushes instead…

Let’s Run!

The race started a few minutes later than 6 am, we ran well in the dark down Las Olas Blvd. Our first mile was 45 sec behind the pace we wanted – 7:30 minutes per mile. Rolling down Las Olas, we did not use the water stops, we stayed in the middle of the road and went past without breaking pace. At mile 2.75, we went over the Las Olas Intracoastal Bridge. I saw and briefly spoke with Molly Ragsdale, who said she and Dave were in today’s half marathon. Helen and I were together up A!a to the Taylor State Park, where it began to get light. A few minutes makes a difference this time of year! Helen knows many of the local FTL runners so she greeted them and was cheered on by many different groups.

This is NOT how things should be

We were still 1 minute to 1:30 behind our goal pace. By now I was sweating such that my singlet was wet all the way through. I knew we had to adjust the pace, we were at 7:30-7:40 but working just for that. We would not last for another 20 miles in this!

I took gels and salt pills at the regular intervals, same products and always washed down with water. Leaving the park, we went down newly-paved A1A. It has been under construction for the last 4-5 years, it really looks nice with palm trees in the medians! Helen was with me at mile 7 – but breathing hard. This is what happened last year. I felt like I had a bubble in my system, I needed to burp, fart or do something to relieve a bloating feeling. I saw the half marathoners come back towards me, Erica, Rick Mongeau, Atilla, Alicia and more. I didn’t see Teresa and Janet, they must have been enough ahead to turn around after I passed the outlet of returning half marathon runners.

At the split, I began counting how many people I passed. Helen had dropped off my pace right before the turnaround, but she had to be close and still within sight. I didn’t look back to check. I passed 3, 4, 6-7, all on the way up to Post Rd where we leave A1A for a mile. This has always been a part of the course, but it was omitted on the map and the text description of the full marathon. Approaching mile 10 I thought, “How is it that my stomach is so disturbed, does the fight begin here, this early in the race?” Yes, it did.

The fight is on

I ran and made the halfway mark at just over 1:40. Adjusted for heat and not feeling well, I believed I’d be able to run at 7:40 pace or slightly below for the other half. I saw the race leaders coming down A1A – the winner who finished in 2:41. A guy pushing a double-wide stroller with two kids at his mile 16.5 as I made mile 14.5. This was work to keep eating the salt pills and gels on schedule. I thought about throwing up my insides in a porta potty, but reconsidered. I didn’t want to wait in line for that privilege! I came into the neighborhood and ran solo down the first street. A guy in a bright colored iRun uniform passed me, at that I pulled off and puked in the bushes near the end of a driveway. It took less than 30 seconds, but I felt clearing out whatever was in there was worth it. I had that taste in my mouth that reminded me I was definitely taking my time drinking at the next water station. Two other guys passed me while running near MacDonalds. With a clear memory I recalled how well I felt at this spot last year in the race. I left the neighborhood, saw Maureen Flynn’s niece Brigette at the aid station, and began the 10 mile straight run home. I stopped at a traffic cone to squat over, secretly pee and stretch my legs. I thought I’d receive a benefit from purging my stomach, but it wasn’t coming yet.

Helen is back!

Running south past the halfway point means mile 18 is coming for me. And so was Helen. She ran alongside me as I stopped to drink. She said she saw me and tried to catch up. I was glad thinking we could use each other to talk and get back home together. Guess what wasn’t going to happen?

We ran the long A1A straightaway to mile 20, turned for the one mile close to the pier segment, then back on A1A. I wasn’t feeling good now, I wanted to walk through each water stop. I have never been sidelined by a stomach issue, I don’t have digestive problems, this was all a new experience for me. I figured I hadn’t had any nutrition since mile 14, I should be able to have a gel. I did that near mile 21. At the water stop at mile 22, it came back up. Helen was doing well to chase other ladies that had passed us by, I was not going to be able to run with her past mile 22.5.

The humbling solo slog home

Once in the sunny final 3 miles of the course, I struggled to get to each successive water stop. I made deals with myself to run to a traffic light, to keep going. Older men made their way past me, people that should never be near me in a race. I was glad to be close, but wishing the last two miles would go by quickly. This was rough. I wasn’t perky for the final mile where the most spectators stand and cheer. I came into the park and under the walkway, new Publix arch and finally, the finish. What I learned was I have to work very hard to figure out how this happened.

It wasn’t good enough to qualify for Boston – not something I thought I’d be in jeopardy of. I had placed 6th in my age group out of 66 guys.

I was drained but very good on my feet, I guess running considerably slower left some energy in my legs. I went to the medical tent to put ice on my legs. I called and sent text messages to friends letting them know where I was. When I took my Altra compression socks off, this is what I saw on my right foot – third toe…

I usually get a callous on the longest second toe of my other foot. This thing was throbbing, so, time to employ the first aid tool provided at nearly every race you’ll attend…

The safety pin from my bib! No lighter to sterilize the metal, it’s “kiss it up to God” and proceed forward. Like a Monty Python clip – it squirted out fluid very generously.

The great finale

Every year, the after party is very well done. I spoke with Chip and Kristin from Colavita who stayed to hand out the Age Group Awards. We didn’t do as well as last year team-wise, but they were happy with us representing the name.


The beer truck was well managed. They shut off the tap at about 4.5 hours and restarted it an hour later. They enforced that marathon bibs took priority over half marathon runners. This made it so everyone had some and the truck did not run out. I had beer and snacks with Erica, Pam, Cami and Jeff. It was a great warm weather day and like always, a good time to not rush away from the festivities.

How do I make this a lesson? I don’t know what or why my stomach became so fragile and caused everything else to slow down. I can try smaller gel packets, the VegaSport ones are very large. Other than this, more miles in heat will make a 70 degree start temperature feel like a cool day.











2017 Miami Marathon

pacer-group-miami-2017Our morning started out uneventful. The Hilton is a good place for us to stay, I was rooming with Jeff Zern from Arkansas. A few other pacers were waiting for us in the lobby, they knew I was local and could lead them to a good parking spot under the American Airlines Arena. Seriously, how is that so convenient and still only $5?

It was 59 degrees at 4:45 am when we arrived at the Start area. My Altra shirt fit tight, size small was – SMALL! I went to the restroom inside the arena and came out and made a really good decision. I did the pacer group photo at 5:15. Then, I went back to my car quickly and put on long-sleeved Under Armour shirt. It was cooler than I thought and temps were predicted to drop all morning. This shirt was my insurance policy. And it matched the graphics on the Altra shirt – bonus style points for the race pics.

I met people in Corral E waiting for me from the Expo. I had 4 or 5 half marathoners, among them a friend named Jodi. Also, I had a few blue-bibbed full marathoners. Nicole, Jorge from Mexica, Leonardo, Maddy and a gal from NY dressed in all black. A few others stayed on the periphery, not talking or introducing themselves but definitely running with us. I went over the things I cover pre-race with my group: pace strategy, water stops, bathroom breaks, shoe lace tying and tidbits about the course. Some asked about the weather, I relayed what I knew… It would be cooler at the finish and we had an 80% chance of rain at 8:00 am. The race started on time and we didn’t have a prohibitive crowd running the first mile up the causeway hill. Staggering the start of the corrals has proven to be a good idea!

We ran the first mile 40 seconds slower than goal pace. I reassured everyone that we’d be on the right schedule very soon, start-line-miami-2017which was true. Mile 2 had us 25 secs off goal and Mile 3 was 12 secs above. It was dark and we had our first encounter with rain in the second mile. No changes for us, we were on the dark causeway distracted by the views of the cruise ships, a fireboat firing off the hoses in the air a la NYC, and a car ferry docking near the inlet. The rain stopped as we made Miami Beach, we ran around by Joe’s Stone Crab and up Ocean Drive with no showers.

A new part of the course had us run south on Washington Ave and then back north on Washington Ave again. We had more rain here on miles 5 -6 -7. My group was very good at keeping pace, we picked up another lady who spoke Spanish only, so I didn’t understand her name when she told me. The NY gal was good with conversation, I soon learned we had a big Spanish contingent that really wasn’t listening to me chime on in English. In my fourth year of pacing this race, this was new for me. Most everyone just smiled or made no reaction when I spoke directly to them. Odd, but the rain kept us quiet. I still gave advice, offered some touristy bits and helped thsouth-beachem know when water stops and aid stations were coming ahead. The Venetian Causeway was open this year, a welcome change from doing the Causeway bridge again at Mile 10 like last year!

On the Venetian Causeway, I picked up two full marathoners, Andres and Riccardo. Andres was wearing my home run club’s bright orange shirt, Riccardo was tall and dressed in black. They both ran up front with me and did some talking, which was perfect as we approached Miami. We were on pace for the miles 7 thru 11. Once we hit the mainland, it’s only 3 more miles with the half marathoners before we go south with just the full marathon runners. Maddy, who had drifted off to run and talk with a “cute guy” that spoke her language, was now back in our fold. We ran in the rain through Overtown and past various drum lines and bands. It was good to have fan support again. I was definitely getting cold. We parted with our orange-bib half marathoners and began heading south. Andres commented that, “They are weak” for not doing the full. This was his first marathon, he was big on the bravado to psych himself up, I guess! We crossed the halfway point at about 5 seconds off pace. I think  we slowed through the half/full split area.

Once at Mile 14 we went over the last significant rise in the course. Andres, Riccardo, Maddi and a few others headed away from downtown towards Coconut Grove. I took a pee break at the Mile 15 porta-potties, I told the group to stay at the same pace and I’d catch them. It wasn’t difficult, it felt good to stretch out and pick up the pace for a few minutes to catch them. And Andres’ screaming orange shirt was very easy to spot. We went through the neighborhood areas then into miles 18-20 in Coconut Grove. Andres dropped off, but we picked up a guy in red with headphones and a Camelbak. He would not drink at the aid stations, but he always stayed to the right in the way of everyone trying to get Gatorade or water. Annoying!

riccardo-dave-miami-2017Riccardo and a girl in a sports bra (Mimi?) were my closest runners, with a few in tow hanging on to our pace. The rain started up again near mile 22, here’s where we turn to run to, under, and back from the Rickenbacker Causeway. on this stretch I was mostly with the Camelbak guy and Mimi, Riccardo made a move to go for better than 3:50. Another guy in a blue shirt who was with us for awhile started to fade. A few others passed me – I encouraged them in the rain to go for the finish, they were running strong in the final two and a half miles.

The rain really picked up for our finish. I was alone and on pace in the final mile. I kept checking behind me to see if I could urge another follower to run in with me – no luck. The final small drawbridge at Mile 25.7 saw a few people walking and a good number of fans encouraging runners through the cold and rainy conditions. I finished up right near perfect time, (3:49:34) and quickly lost plenty of heat waiting for Helen to take the pacer signs. A few of my runners stopped to thank me, one older guy who I didn’t catch his name said he had paced with me three years in a row and was happy with his time. I quickly made my way to the VIP zone once Helen took my signs – the weather was getting worse and I was standing around in wet clothes. Coffee, eggs, bacon, it all helped!



Space Coast Half Marathon Pacing 2016

space-coast-2016-1I had a smaller group than in years past, but a fun collection of runners spanning all ages. Hazel, a younger gal I ran with last year, explained that she wasn’t able to keep up in 2015 so she “had to let Pacer Dave go.” Our group had many good laughs with her about that for the next 13 miles!
Other runners that stayed close to me during the race were Deb, Lee, Sondra, Janet, Tim, and Yolimar. Two older guys, perhaps late 60s, Bud and his friend, “Flash” also committed to stay with me for the 1:50 goal.
I gave a good explanation of things I usually cover prior to the start:
  • shoe tying
  • how we handle water stops
  • how to hydrate and not break pace
  • GPS watches vs time and mile markers
  • a consistent pace all the way.
  • bathroom breaks
  • communicating with me in early miles when they feel good and later if they are struggling.
I know this course well now, the start is exciting and we have two 90 degree turns before we are gliding down the river road for our out and back race. We cover our first mile in 8:47, the pace we need to center in on is 8:22. We are on that pace in mile 3 and make our time marks by mile 4, slowly increasing speed. I keep everyone apprised of our progress vs perfect time at each mile. I never tell them we are really scheduled to arrive 30 seconds early, I save that gem of a surprise for the finish area!
We can run on both sides of the road or right up the center, at least until we see the leaders of the half coming back towards us. That doesn’t usually occur until Mile 5-ish. I let people know about “running the tangents,” straight lines that keep your final mileage closer to the course distance instead of running more than required. I know where the only little “hill” or rise on the course is, so I jokingly ask the group about any special training they may have done for running up a driveway or such. Hazel, Deb, and Sondra are close with me, I notice a few others I didn’t start with following nearby, but not engaging me. Tim and Flash are behind me but attentive to our conversations. 
The middle miles have us all witness the sunrise and I ask folks to act as “dolphin spotters,” so if any of us see them, we can brag later about the on-course views. The race leader, a guy in a Skechers uniform, comes by us heading back, and he already has nearly a 2 minute lead on second place. The race gets more exciting now that the sun is up and we are seeing the faster groups go by us heading home. At the turnaround, we take water and notice no turnaround timing mat? Not that anyone we saw did, but any athlete could drop into the porta potty and come out and turn for home…
Once we turn around, my group becomes quieter. Some are near their max exertion I surmise, so I keep talking and offering tips and tales to distract them from the running. I build some excitement by telling the group that we are now the runners of desire, meaning the folks still heading to the turn around wish they were us! And it’s true, we get good shout outs and compliments on our time and we “high five” a good number of runners on the other side of the road. It’s fun and a good diversion for the people in my group that choose to participate.
We are right on pace, crossing each mile marker never more than 8 seconds off on the slow side, and we hit mile #11 2 seconds fast. Hazel drops back and is still in view, Deb, who wants to break 1:50 for a half marathon qualifying spot to her first NYC marathon, tangles with another lady and the other girl falls but recovers. Deb is nearby and still able to keep our pace. In the last two miles, another girl joins my group and powers ahead, I didn’t get her name. Flash is right next to me, Tim is right off my right shoulder. Hazel is less than 20 yards back and I keep motioning to her to stay with us. An occasional “thumbs up” lets me know she is doing well.
The final mile and a half is flat and basically a straightaway leading to the curvy finish area. Now we have fans cheering for us and we see the first marathoners coming at us with police motorcycle escort. Sondra asks if I think she can “go for it,” I say definitely and she surges forward. We are right on time at mile 12 and 13. I tell the group they can go ahead but I have to finish near the original goal time, which I do in 1:49:33. I collect my runners at the finish area and review their progress, which is significant! Yolimar, who stayed near us has a PR for the half. Tim does, too! Flash compliments me and compares this great finish with his last half marathon. He apparently went with a 1:50 pacer that stopped running altogether at mile 9, leaving him to finish in 1:55 something. He is very happy with his time today!
Hazel comes in less than 120 seconds behind us, satisfied with today’s effort. I bet I’ll see her again next year, she is a local member of the Space Coast Runners club.space-coast-2016-2
I am happy to run this event, the course and organization is very good. The after-race amenities and finish line area is terrific! I recommend this event to anyone – the weather was warmer this time but still very favorable for Florida runners entered in the half marathon.

NYC Marathon 2016 ~ The Race

26.2 mi. My second time for this amazing event and it was nothing like the first visit! Today I am serving as a runner guide for Achilles International. My role and responsibility is to safely run with my friend, Julie, and help her become a TCS NYC Marathon finisher.Start Area and Achilles athlete staging

We woke up at 4:45am and had organized most of our things the night before. We knew we would have a few hours of down time getting to the start area and waiting for our 1st wave, so we brought some food and drink. Each of us drank Pedialyte the day before, topping off on the electrolytes as has been my habit the last few long races.

Our subway took us to Grand Central Station, then we walked to the bus area on 38th & 5th Ave. We saw athlete #225 next to us, Matthew Lauder. He had a Central Park Track Club jacket on, so I knew he was fast. (He finished in 2:30, yep, that group has plenty of local talent.) It was organized, but still we waited about 1/2 an hour to get on the bus and get seated. The ride, with police escort through traffic lights, took about 45 minutes. Then we waited an additional 45 minutes to unload. I had to hold in a men’s room break and dash to the porta-potty once they let us off! The start area for Achilles athletes was on the south side of the Verrazano Bridge. We were in the Green Wave. We were assigned to run the bottom level of the bridge…

The Achilles athletes and their guides are very impressive. BlinAchilles area on Staten Islandd, para, handcycle and wheelchair competitors gather in a special area with a warm tent and our own food and drinks. To see and read the shirts and accomplishments of our fellow runners is awesome. One man had  37 consecutive NY marathon finishes. ALower Level Green Wave Start - Verrazano Bridge blind athlete had four guides, all decorated with “Team Jessica” signs on their backs. So many countries are represented, and so many amazing conversations are overheard in the staging area. The prep for these people is impressive, tooling with the handcycles, body glide, special water bottles and hydration systems. The Achilles world is “gulp in the throat” impressive.

While waiting to begin, I shed my sweat pants and hoodie. Start!We meet folks from NZ and Japan, they are the “Pikachu Team.” We don’t know it yet, but they will run near us for most of the race! We start at the back of Wave #1. It gets underway with a big cannon shot after the National Anthem and introduction of men and women elite runners. Soon, we are running on the windy lower level of the bridge heading to Brooklyn. How many times have I driven this myself, in the day and at night? How many times have I been driven across this by my parents to visit relatives, etc.? Now I’m running it with Julie, letting her decide the pace. Almost on the downside of the bridge, we see and I hear a close helicopter. It comes with a strong breeze that blows my tightly-pressed on visor right off my head! Thankfully, that’s the only gear related malfunction I have all day.

The Pikachu Team from JapanI kept the strategy of eating salt pills at 4 mi. intervals, and food or gels every 5 mi. I only drank water on the course. I was tempted to have some leftover Halloween candy that was offered on the course, but no. I took a pretzel rod that Julie got from a fan, yes, I could have eaten more of those! Most people shed any warmup clothes on the first 3 miles of our Green Course, which doesn’t get onto Brooklyn’s surface streets until mile 3.75. Then we encounter fans, signs, and neighborhoods.

Running through Brooklyn is fun, especially when all of our routes join up on 4th Ave. Half of the street is in the shade, the other half in the sun. Julie likes the cool, shady side so we stay there. She quickly learns how much fun and energy the crowd contributes. I point out who yells her name, then she waves or slaps hands with the many children that line the course. Music, crazy election-themed signs, and a breeze in the face allow us to keep a steady pace on a long straight road. We notice when new waves of runners catch up, as a few fast runners zip by, followed by larger groups, pacers, and then a big crowd!

I think we ran 10-11 miles before making a quick stop to chase a pebble from Julie’s shoe. Then we walked through a water stop and I did a quick sneaky pee break on the shielded side of a truck near an aid station. I kept looking for the well-lit casino like structure I saw in 2013 in the Williamsburg area, camera in hand, but no luck. We saw a few of the Hasidic families out, it was great weather for the fans, too!

Midtown Manhattan from the 59th St BridgeIt got a little warmer as we crossed into Queens. We saw a runner down and being attended to on the roadside, and minutes later, an ambulance coming to tend to him. Queens has a few turns and a creative way to get to the base of the Queensboro/59th St Bridge. You run up to it, under it, alongside it, then make one abrupt left turn and we start climbing. It’s not a steep climb, but it is quiet. We ran some, walked some, and stopped to take a good picture of Midtown Manhattan.

Dropping down from the bridge into Manhattan is great! so many people, the street is very wide, we are all smiles here. I use my phone to update Marni and Nina as to where we are so we can meet them on the course in another 1.5 miles. I find out they are on the east side of the road, less crowded they say. I keep popping quick updates as we pass 66th St, 73rd St, 82nd St. This meetup is a big energy boosJulie's support groupt for Julie, she gets plenty of attention and Nina does a video or a Facebook Live session for others to share the moment. We gather up and begin a quicker pace now that Julie is energized. We are closing in on Mile 18. I see a lady running with a “Flight Centre” shirt on, yellow and green and I asked her where she lived. Her name is Maggie. She said Gold Coast, Australia, so that gets us chatting. I introduce Julie and explain what we are doing. Maggie was going to walk, but we have encouraged her to trot along with us. I talk and talk to distract her and keep her in the conversation, hopefully keeping her away from any thoughts of breaking stride. Julie talks with her also, and gains ownership of helping her get to the finish with us. Sometimes Maggie fades back, Julie makes sure to have me tow her back to us. I take a quick few steps to the west side of 1st Avenue to get a picture in front of the only White Castle I know of in Manhattan. Not even my brother has stopped at one of those mid-race. Not for me this time, either.Found a White Castle on the course


We run together for the remaining miles in Manhattan to the bridge over into the Bronx. Julie’s choice of grabbing a strawberry/vanilla Power Gel backfires, she does not like the taste at all and within a quarter mile it comes back up. We are near a water stop, but this is not a good time to add anything to the mix, even though Julie’s stomach is now empty of fluids as well. We stay together and build up a good pace again. The Bronx is loud and boisterous, but the mood in our group is slient as Julie recovers and Maggie hangs on to our pace. She still wants to walk, but we keep her with us into upper Manhattan and Harlem. The view up the long road ahead is amazing! 1st Ave is a runner's path on Marathon DaySo many people, so many spectators, it’s terrific. So much energy and great interaction among strangers. I get just a smile, some chatter, a few laughs from fans and runners near us. We reach Central Park North as a group of three. We know Marni has made her way across to 5th Ave and is meeting us at 93rd St. Julie is in pain at this point, Maggie is sliding back. We visit briefly with Marni, who picks up and runs alongside Julie into Central Park. We did this segment of the race as practice on Saturday. Now we’re in that struggle familiar to all marathoners, the last 3 miles. Marni breaks off and arranges to meet us at the AWD special family meeting spot. Julie and I continue through the park, mixing runs with short walk breaks. I’m not saying too much, Julie is in her own head pushing through pain on the bottoms of her feet. She asks me where the rocks are that we took pictures of Saturday morning, I know they are only a mile away at 25, I say they are close and we are moveing well. There are many people walking now, we have to weave through runners and fans that are cheering on both sides. I don’t remember this many spectators in Central Park when I ran it last time. When we pass the rocks near the Wolman Rink, Julie knows we are close. She asks about the finish, but we still have about a mile left – I report that we are right near the Plaza Hotel, where we had a good breakfast and dinner. We turn onto 59th street in the final mile, I remind Julie that all we have to do is get to a far-off traffic light, make a right and then trace our parade route from Friday night. We arrange to hold hands and cross the finish line together. It is taking a big push for Julie to stay moving on tender feet, but she does it! No walking at all from Mile 25 on – we line up to finish on the right side. There are so many people still cheering runners, the big screens show our approach, it is an incredible sensation to make these next few steps.Finish Line area

Once over the line, Julie relaxes and takes inventory of her sore feet. We snap a few photos and hope like crazy that we get the nice blue fleece ponchos for the finishers that opt not to transport gear from the start line. We get medals, food bags, and a ride in a golf cart to the 72nd St exit to the park. We meet Marni and go to the Achilles area, but it’s mostly empty. No soup, food, or ponchos. I jog up 8th Ave and get two ponchos which were very necessary! I am cold now as well! It’s getting dark but we made it – and now plenty of texts and phone action so we can arrange where to meet friends. Julie has plenty of congratulatory messages and wishes from friends… It was a run like no other!





A1A Marathon 2016

This one pieced together nicely! Included in the sponsor’s private team, I ran well on the “Valentine’s Day” edition of Ft Lauderdale’s A1A Marathon. Some bites and thoughts from the weekend…

  • I went to the Colavita Athlete Appreciation Dinner on Friday night with Cami as my guest. Erica and her date, Patrick from Colorado, Stacey Paton, Eric Kalina and Ryan Billings were also there. Colavita did our packet pickup for us; and provided lululemon gear for us to wear in the race. This was VERY well done at Osteria in Deerfield Beach.
  • I stayed off my feet as much as possible Saturday, doing some shopping in the morning and watching the Olympic Trials in the afternoon. Good mental fruit for the day before a race! Diane and John watched alongside me – I ate a salmon dinner early (4:30pm) before driving to Ft Lauderdale to stay with Helen and her family.
  • Stacy is F-A-S-T!

    Sleeping 5 miles from the start line, we woke up maybe 45minutes later than if I would have driven down from Palm Beach. No problems parking or getting to the event’s start line. The only person I found from the team was Stacy. We decided to start together, Helen was also planning to keep pace with us as long as she could.

“There’s always a great vibe at the start of this race.”

  • Race morning was 60 degrees at the start with winds 12 mph from the North. I didn’t feel cold at the start. I made sure I hit the restroom twice before running. I wore calf sleeves for the race, thinking if Greg and Laura Bennett use them for silly Saturday runs, I could benefit a small bit with them. And a “small bit” could be all I need!
  • Valentine’s Visor

    I wore a pink visor and some adhesive hearts from Michael’s craft store – that was easy to create. Welcome in the Valentine’s Day garb…

  • Starting out at near 7:30 pace felt fast. I didn’t have many training miles coming into the race, so when the two girls started to push faster at points I tried to remind them we were at 7:15 or faster pace. Coming over the Las Olas bridge, the familiar sunrise and cheers of the first real grouping of fans met us. Good use of the gels every 5 miles and salt pills every 4 helped today. I was able to use the VegaSport gels, once I discovered that the only local store selling them anymore is Nutrition S’Mart.
  • The run around Hugh Taylor Birch park was good for me, cool temps, light from the sun and a quick speed up to run ahead and pee in the woods. I know it stays on my mind when I try to hold that in, so here was a good opportunity to fix that before we saw fans and the streets of Ft Lauderdale again!


    Helen, my host so close to the Start Line!

  • I saw April, Stephen and Ulrike at mile 8 prior to the half marathon turn off. Coming at me, I experienced the perennial exciting sensation of seeing Aldo, John Reback, Adam Schiff, Stacy and Erica heading home in their race.

“Once the course splits, we see who is really in this game.”

  • The marathon course was windy in my face and offered no one for me to draft or follow. One guy in a white t-shirt was always about 5-10 seconds ahead of me, besides that it was the occasional pass of a guy or gal and stay focused on running smooth. I wanted to hit the halfway mat at 1:38. I had to keep care of my visor in the wind and try to stay near buildings because I somehow thought they’d shield me from some of the wind.
  • Halfway checked in at 1:38:12. That’s good, I knew that in less than 3 miles I’ wouldn’t be facing the wind anymore. I got next to and spoke with the t-shirt wearing guy, he was from out of town. I explained that we will be out of the wind soon. Then I passed him and saw the male and female race leaders heading at me. The slight turn before mile 14 was right into the wind, now since the race began it was changing direction. I was going Northwest and that’s where the wind was coming from!
  • I made it up to the “neighborhood.” There were no water stops here as in years past. I passed a few guys and noticed a brightly dressed African guy – I thought, “Am I tempting  fate passing a Kenyan at Mile 15.5?” I didn’t see him for the rest of the race.
  • Running south, I spotted Cami ahead of her pace and I saw other locals coming up for their turnaround. Winds were now more from the East, I felt significant gusts when I ran in a gap between buildings. It’s “time to run home” I thought and said to myself. Regardless of what the wind was doing, I had to make it back in less time than it took to cover the first half. I did not check my watch for time against my pace band for the final 10-mile stretch home.

“I try not to put too much thought into any distance ahead, just running smoothly and under control, breathing and pacing properly.”

  • I missed seeing mile markers 21 and 22. I was happy and my calves both began the quivers of cramping just before 23. I knew the route would be more interesting once I began running along the beach. The sun was out, it was a great day and now we had fan, run club and music support. I didn’t know what I was clocking per mile, but I felt on pace and started speeding up for the last long stretch of A1A.
  • Once I got within a mile of the finish, I saw Julie next to the pro photographers. At least one person I knew would be around at the finish line! I still felt good, the cramping was there on both legs but was under control. I made the turn and zipped into the park for the last dash to the finish line. This is what I always hoped an “A” performance would feel like at the end. I saw the timing clocks at 3:14 something, I knew I was around 2 minutes within gun time, so my pace had kept strong. Across the line I was at 3:15:14 – a personal best.
  • a1a-groupRegina, Helen and April were nearby as I drank water and absorb the day. I saw Jean-Louis, he said he didn’t run fast today, only a 3:08. What I didn’t know was, he had moved up an age group. I finished 1st for 50-54 males and in tune with Erica, Ryan and Eric, all whom also won their AG titles. It was a great showing today for the Colavita Team! I stayed around for beer, pics with friends and the belated awards ceremony. Some kooky yoga pics with Cami happened on the wall of Ft Lauderdale beach, my legs regretted doing that!a1a-group2


Recapping a great day means I was thankful to have energy, fitness and the health necessary to do well. I love the course, know when to ease into the pain (miles 7 and 14 come to mind!) and how I should be feeling rough near the end. I am fortunate that I was able to be in the right place and not injured at all for the convergence of cool weather and a South Florida marathon – thank God!

Valentine’s Day with Katerina and Audrey



Miami Marathon 2016

A chilly start – but very successful day! My time was 3:49:34, very close to a perfect pacing day.

Let’s start with the expo…


Literally “chillin’ with the pacers” at 5:00am. American Airlines Arena.

The expo was in a new location this year, Mana Wynwood, the artist’s community of Miami. Parking wasn’t difficult since I was on for the first shift. I’m glad I left early, part of I-95 was closed due to an accident on Saturday morning. The venue was a large building that could have been a bit better utilized. There was plenty of space unused in the facility, it seemed like the marathon and all accompanying supplier booths were crammed into a smaller, designated section. Because of this, the expo felt more like a flea market! Tight aisles and crowded everything. Our Purium Pacing booth was very well positioned, not a single person could miss our signs, triple booth or enthusiastic workers. I think we boosted attendance in the pace groups as well as awareness of Purium products dur to the great location of our stand.

Pacer dinner was very good, surprisingly the Cuban-based restaurant we had used two years ago had a diverse menu. Some of our runners were overlooked with their servings, but honestly, this is bound to happen in a group of 25 or more. My food was well prepared and a good portion.I roomed with David from Erie, Pa. He was the 3:10 pacer. He had a very focused approach to his preparations. He wanted to wake up at 3am, eat something, then lie down for 45 minutes to properly digest – thankfully he didn’t budge until 3:30. I slept well, neatly tucked into the covers. David preferred to sleep in cool temps, so we had the air conditioner on all night!

I roomed with David from Erie, Pa. He was the 3:10 pacer. He had a very focused approach to his preparations. He wanted to wake up at 3am, eat something, then lie down for 45 minutes to properly digest – thankfully he didn’t budge until 3:30. I slept well, neatly tucked into the covers. David preferred to sleep in cool temps, so we had the air conditioner on all night!


The group in the hotel at 4:15am

Our morning drive over was the best we’ve ever had. A quick jaunt on 395 East to I-95 South, exit on 8th Ave and drive to 5th Ave. We went straight East into the Port area and parked under the AAA for $5.00 Easy as ever!

Pre-race it became apparent that my clothing was ok for the temps, as I had practiced during the week. The wind was a chiller, however, I couldn’t get warm at all waiting for the running to start. Corrals opened late, no reason why but it has happened before at Miami I remember. Thanks to Kristen for giving me a “barrel liner – 6ft tall clear bag to wear while we waited. April Flynn had two pink sweatshirts on, one of those worked just enough to keep my teeth from chattering, so a big thanks to her, too!

My group consisted of Melissa from Ft Lauderdale, who wanted to start with us but said she would end up running a different pace. Also hovering near me in the early miles were Sue (First marathon) Stephanie, Phillipe, Anne (from Melbourne, AUS) Felix (From Cologne, GER) Uttarrio, Wladimir from Ecuador, Gordon Turner (from south of Lexington, KY) There were two other gals from Pompano that stayed alongside us all the way past Mile 13, but I did not get their names, they were “plugged in” to their music.


With Melissa in the corral. Thanks Kristen for the large clear bag and April for pink sweatshirt!

The corral starts were wisely staggered, this is a big improvement! We were at 9 min mile as a group for mile #1. This 13-second differential was the largest I’d have all day at any mile marker. The cool weather allowed us to be right on pace by Mile 4 on South Beach. Sue was my “closest” runner in the first half, she stayed right by me listening and soaking in advice, tourist spots and anything else I was saying! We saw the race leaders coming back at us near mile 3.5, that’s always exciting. The new route on South Beach was very good, it seemed to go by quickly. I was not too cold at this point, but I wasn’t ready to toss the pink hoodie, knowing we had more exposure to the NNW wind on the run back across the causeway. I found the miles 9 & 10 on the Mac Arthur Causeway to be the toughest conditions of the day – wind in the face and a hill at Mile 10. Our pace was consistent but a tad slower going up the hill into the wind…

Once back in Miami, the half marathoners left for their finish line. I still had a sizeable group for the 3:50 full, maybe 10 people. We did well over the Mile 14 drawbridge, I kept reminding the group to drink more than they thought, since they weren’t having any sweat issues, which can be deceiving! I employed Sue to hold my water bottle and pacer sign between Miles 15 & 16 while I quickly did a pee break on course. Once back with the group, we did well through the small residential neighborhoods leading into Coconut Grove. Some of my group was now about 50 feet back running steady, with several others joining me at the front to talk or tell me how they felt.

Once we entered the 20-something miles, I got my group to concentrate on anything but “only 6 miles remaining.” We discussed a few neat things in that regard, then found ourselves making that right turn towards Rickenbacker Causeway. The sun was in our face and my best two runners came forward, Felix from Germany and Uttario. It was so nice to see so many runners going strong from this point on, usually in warmer Miami conditions people are doing plenty of walking!

We went down Brickell Ave with many people cheering for us. The wind was blocked by the buildings and trees, this two mile straightaway was the most rewarding for so many of the runners near me. Many were smiling, they had great conditions and were all running well as we approached the final two turns. I sent my two guys ahead because they had good energy – they both waited for me at the finish to thank me for helping them achieve great races. I waited for several people at the line, those that still obtained PRs and finished a minute or two behind me.


The MacArthur Causeway, on the course twice this year, mile #1 and mile #10.

I visited the VIP area for warm coffee and eggs. Then I went to the Hydration Rejuvenation area for an IV. This process is so beneficial! I mentioned it to so many people on the course and at the pacer dinner. I see their business doing very well here in South Florida!

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