10 Reasons to Run a Marathon this Fall


Source: smileswithmoms.com

Source: smileswithmoms.com

You never know what life is gonna throw at you. One day you could be trading stocks on Wall Street, the next serving a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. While that may be an extreme there exists many others; from health to sickness and every and anything in between, a person’s goals and life could change in an instant. And so we plan, our God-given right we believe, in the hopes of a million dreams coming through while ironically we have no control whatsoever over any of it.

So what does that mean for you the runner? For my part it says that while planning is necessary to maintain an illusion of order and control in our lives, it is far more important to live in the moment – making use of the days and seasons as they come and fulfilling our dreams as far as we can now. Dreams of running, loving, living, adventure, missions, service..whatever they may be, more often than not, we only get one shot at.

With that in mind, I propose a running dream come true this Fall. How about a marathon? The ultimate running experience for every person who considers him/herself a runner awaits you.  There will never be a better time, a more perfect season or better reasons to challenge yourself. Here’s why:

  1. Fall weather rocks a marathon with near perfect running conditions and is the most scenic and awe-inspiring to runners who are closet nature lovers. Think trails, mountains, foliage etc.
  2. It’s great for destination marathoners. That would be me! I love to pick a beautiful city right off the map just because it promises a beauty of a course.
  3. This is the best time to run (for first time marathoners), complete and even record a PR as it follows Summer where you would have had ample opportunity for executing a great training plan.
  4. Generally, travel rates are lower since it’s post summer so deals are on to make it a few days vacation with a marathon added for good measure.
  5. It presents the perfect opportunity to cross off that bucket list event or new year resolution. I’m guessing a marathon was high up on there.
  6. If you’re anything like me, you love a challenge. Well maybe I’m a bit much, but hey.. how about a Fall challenge to take it to the next level. For steadfast half-marathon folks or those who enjoy still shorter runs, how about pushing those limits while increasing your mileage and building endurance and ability. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.
  7. Lots of charity runs happening this Fall as we head to October and Cancer Awareness month. Your marathon miles can do a lot of good to so many.
  8. Training for a marathon could just be what you need to put you in tip-top shape for the upcoming holiday season and all the irresistible food and treats that will surely tempt you then. The hard work you would have put into training to get you looking so svelte will help temper your palette as you will want to stay fit and healthy.
  9. A marathon is an inspiration to so many people, those who can’t run, those who do, and others who want so much to. Why not earn bragging rights as a marathoner while inspiring others to do the same.
  10. Lastly, if you didn’t know it, Fall is unofficially marathon season with two really big marathons taking center stage, the New York City Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. You could have a place in either one of these and run the opportunity of a lifetime. Now which runner out there can say no to that?

I guess if after all that you’re not thinking in terms of 26.2 then there’s really no hope for you. Tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock’s a’ticking – to marathon or not to marathon.

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Is there a Runner’s code?

2014 Boston Marathon

                   2014 Boston Marathon

“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”  – Forrest

Quite a few times in my writings you may have seen me close off with the term – “runner’s honor.” As to whether there is indeed such a thing, I can only speculate and hope, on good basis I might add, since my observations & experiences with runners over the years have been overwhelmingly positive. I surmise that in all likelihood there exists an unspoken but very real code of honor that we runners adhere to. If I were to put it in words it would look something like the above quote from the movie Forrest Gump.

Formost among others, runners have an enormous capacity for endurance and the unerring and dogged ability to pursue a thing to its end.  Fortified with vision and purpose, there is little that can stand in the way of us realizing our goals.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, we condition our minds, bodies and spirits to achieving the pinnacle of our dreams through tireless practice, the sacrifice of other pleasures and dedication of our time. We are the most accomplished when we’ve gotten our daily run in.  Runners recognize that we belong to a community of passionate believers, that many will call crazy, who respect the human body as being the ultimate machine that will take us as far as we let it – only insofar as we care for and treat it right.

Runners share a camaraderie of spirit which propels us to encourage and cheer on fellow runners. This is evidenced by the many times I have either been on the receiving end of, or given, words of encouragement or a running hand to other runners on the course. Also, runners expect and give respect on the course. It can be harrowing sometimes at the start and at other points on the course with the share numbers out there; while competitiveness is the norm, we never allow this to overstep our respect for the runner behind, in front or beside us, giving way or making way as we run along. Another code runners honor is that of the injured runner. We look out for, ask after and if necessary give comfort and support to those who are hurt or in pain. Here, I particularly remember the Boston Marathon of 2013; a tragedy that touched the world but more so, the running community. Everyone united “Boston Strong” and ran for months after in support and solidarity with those injured and the three spectators that died that day. Even today we speak of them with such pride and admiration. Still, we are mindful of our purpose and will no sooner see a runner helped than we are off single-mindedly to pursue our goal.

Additionally, an important code runners share is their solidarity to the sport and sometimes cause of running. Runners unite in the achievement and vision of other runners and support the advancement of the sport and the use of running as a platform to make a difference in our world. It does not take ingenuity to decide that running can impact the lives of thousands but it does take ingenuity to decide to run to make this happen. Time and again, we dedicate out time and talent to transforming lives through our passion for running. We spearhead, support and enlist the help of our running and wider community to highlight the disadvantages that many in our world face through many charities and causes. Lastly, runners are continuously inspired to run longer, faster and stronger. We are united in our efforts to become the absolute best version of ourselves, which simply means constantly pushing beyond perceived limits and challenging ourselves to another PR.

As with all things human, we will often find a lot to complain and disagree about, and if we look well enough we may even find those that do not ascribe to the general code, but I argue that they would be the exception to the rule. Runners by far are the most giving, gregarious, open and welcoming folks I have had the fortune to know. I do no say it lightly when I say runners rock. They do!

Some Fun Spring Runs

Source: Precor.com

              Source: Precor.com

After a long, cold Winter you deserve some fun. And I’m not talking laying-under-a-beach-with-an-umbrella-drink type of fun, heck no, we’re not sedentary like that. I’m talking body painting-mud covering-rock climbing, kinda running fun. Don’t mind if we celebrate everything with a run, we don’t know any other way. It’s just too darn bad that some of us are still experiencing winter-type air but for the rest of us, there’s nothing like a crazy, adrenaline-pumping, butt-kicking running adventure for Spring initiation. Never mind the rains we’ve been promised, plan on getting soaked anyway with all the sweat and grime that’s coming your way.

I did some digging and scored what I think are some of the best fun runs around the country – only because I think hopping around adds more adventure and fun and you get to meet runners. Here’s hoping these 10 suggestions help to kick off Spring and get you on your way to earning a bad-ass runner reputation.

1. The Original Mud Run – DFW Spring 2015, Bear Creek Road, Lancaster TX 4/04/2015
This race boasts three courses: 5k fun run, 10k fun run and 10k competition and a new Apex 200 yard – Super Obstacle Course (competition only). All courses are Military Style Obstacle Courses and boots and loose-fitting cargo or sweat pants are mandatory for competition categories while recommended for non-competition runs where crazy costumes are also welcomed.

2. Mud on the Mountain – Seven Springs,Pennsylvania 5/09/2015
A 7-mile mud run through some of the most challenging terrain in Pennsylvania traversing ponds, scaling boulder fields, climbing over obstacles and clawing up impossible inclines to a triumphant finish.

3. Savage Race – Georgia Spring 2015, Dallas, GA 4/18/2015
An intense 5 miles, 25 obstacles on rolling hills and rocky terrain to include mud, fire and barbed wire. Run individually or as part of a team.

4. Spartan Race – Tri-State New Jersey Beast 4/18/2015
A distance of 12-14 miles over New Jersey’s Mountain Creek with steep inclines and rocky track descents. Athletes are asked to carry a headlamp & water supply in a camelback or similar type pack as the average finish time is 5+ hours. Teams are encouraged but there is also individual registration.

5. Spartan Race – Citi Field, NY Sprint (Stadium) 5/09/2015
3 miles of throwing, jumping, crawling and grueling climbing will take you to the remotest corners and every level of this ball park.

6. Virginia Rugged Maniac – spring 2015 Petersburg, VA 5/02/2015
A 3.1-mile run averaging 30-60 minutes with 25 obstacles the likes of 12′ high walls and 50′ water slides while running, crawling and jumping through a combination of forests, fields, motocross tracks and ski slopes.

7. Ultimate Challenge Mud Run – Columbia, SC 4/11/2015
Run 36 military style obstacles spread over 6.2 miles with Marines to “motivate” your team at each one. This is a team event only challenging you both physically and mentally through mud, water, and over obstacles just like veterans do in training. Obstacles are built with the same materials and techniques as used in military training courses around the world.

8. The Color Run – Camden Waterfront, Philadelphia, PA 4/25/2015
Dubbed “the happiest 5k on the planet” this run is designed to uplift and inspire runners to shine and live in a happy healthy way. Get ready to do that with special sparkle/ glittery attractions on the course, new shine elements at the finish and paint of course.

9. Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon – Loudon County, VA 5/30/2015
Who needs mud when you have wine. The race starts and finishes at Doukenie Winery, with post-race access to the Wine & Music Festival. This scenic, grape-scented course runs north of the winery on historic byways, passing vineyards, farms, ranches and estates along the way. Midway is your water and wine stop.

10. Barkin’ Dog Duathalon – Denver, CO 5/30/2015
The largest duathalon in Colorado and a popular run-bike-run race, this race has two distances participants can choose from: a 1.2-mile run, 18k bike, and 5k run or a 5k run, 34k bike, and 5k run as they transverse the trails and roads through Cherry Creek State Park. Enjoy a post-race picnic and the 4200 acres of the park upon finishing.

Of course there are a lot more going on this spring, hundreds of mud runs and obstacle races in each state through the end of the year actually, and sometimes multiple in any given state, at various locations. The point is that there are so many races and so much fun to be had, it would be a tragedy to let it all slip away without stepping out and grabbing as much as you can. Another positive is that these races have a charity component and so you could always do good while you’re having fun. Enjoy Spring!

Redefining Running (Part 2)

ultra_marathon_tatry_5_by_gupol-d73yise
In the first part of this topic we discussed the evolution of running and I highlighted some of newer aspects of our sport, which takes us beyond the typical run-for-health-or-exercise reasons to that of fun and competition. We explored this in the context of ultra running events for those of us who wanted to expand our horizons and push our limits; no longer accepting of the status quo or what it means to be the average runner.

I find this new push for endurance racing or running quite interesting, first because it indicates the presence of a relentless and demanding drive in our personalities that mirrors that of the competitive athlete: supremely confident and highly driven to achieve one’s personal best, and second, because now I’m curious about the extent of our drive for self-actualization in running: what does this mean for the future of running and how far can our desire for more take us?

While those questions are sure to set us a’wondering, it behooves us to consider how far we’ve progressed since the days of Pheidippides (our marathon namesake) and to see the evolution of running as the natural progression of a sport of passion, which brings us to my first point: the personality of the runner who determines that a marathon is no longer enough. I can safely say I identify since I know what it is to achieve your first marathon – the anticlimax of a build up of complex emotions: demanding physical and mental preparedness coupled with extreme psychological and physical adjustments. The finish line is now associated with time, medal and the next event. Crazy right. I recall completing my first marathon, was it only last year – deep in the bellies of pain – and there I was thinking of the next one, which was to be less than two months away, and the next, a month later. Now I’m at crossroads, considering my first ultra event next year. Sure I have set other goals along the way, like completing the World Marathon Majors and running some of the most amazing and toughest courses, however, now I have a new goal: completing a triathlon next year while vaguely in the distance I can detect the shaping up of an iron man. I have demanded of my mind to stop there though I suspect there are a lot more ideas buzzing around. In this instance, I find the challenge to be one of keeping focus on one goal at a time and not splitting oneself into various parts attempting to achieve different things. But it’s always right there on the periphery of my mind; what’s next, where to run, how can I get faster, be stronger, do better next time? For there is never a doubt that there will be a next time only a matter of when.

Many runners share this crazy passion, always on the look out for the next big race or event. Whether it’s cross-country, over trails and mountains, across ice, over rocks, through streams and in valleys, over five hours or a couple of days, I will go so far as to say we thrive on it; our aphrodisiac if you will – what stimulates and motivates us to being better people and better athletes. If you’ve ever faced the question of – why do you do it – then you know deep down that it’s as simple as, why not. The training, sacrifice, dedication, and various daily deprivations, that’s the hard part. Then again, it comes with the guarantee of an utter sense of fulfillment upon completion of each big one. So indeed, why not.

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