2009 Marathon & Ultra Marathon Stories
B&A Trail Full & Half Marathon
Miami Marathon - January 2009

Hi folks:

For all you sitting around your house, bundled up in 10 layers of clothing and dreading the oncoming snow shoveling ordeal on your way I am happy to report the high today in Miami will be 80F and I am sitting here in a short sleeved shirt wondering why I am not also in shorts. J

Yesterday was the Miami Marathon which had over 15,000 runners for the half and the full. If you have ever thought about a January half or full this is a nice one to put on your list. Starting downtown the race immediately goes over the MacArthur Causeway from the City of Miami toward Miami Beach. The causeway is where all the cruise ships dock and one was blaring the theme to the Love Boat while we ran past. Running along Ocean Drive in South Beach, the course wends its way back to Miami with a picture perfect view of the new sky line.

The half peels off, then the rest of us keep going south toward Coconut Grove, turning back north with a dreaded (by me) one mile out and back toward Key Biscayne, finishing with two miles along Brickell Avenue. All fantastic views.

My race found me struggling, again, with cramping in the later miles. I guess the humidity is something very difficult to train for in the northern climes. Training lesson for next year: take the whole month of January in Miami (hope springs eternal).

My results:

Chip time: 3:57:59 (first sub 4:00!!!)

Previous PR 4:09:13


Jim McHale

+1 484 467 7120

The B&A Trail Marathon & Half Marathon
Sunday, March 1st 2009

Three age group awards, four PRs, and a whole lot of fund was had amongst the 14 Fast Trackers traveling down to Severna Park, MD on Sunday to run either the marathon, half marathon or pace another Fast Tracker.

PRs were obtained in the half by Bridget Soto and Brian Roberts while Heidi Simon and Stacy Gelhaus PR'd in the full.

The ladies ran away with age group awards with Marissa Crocco and Donna Radl taking first in their age groups and Heidi Simon taking second in her age group.

Our other members participating were Keith Straw, Tom Chaves, Tom & Michelle Burkholder, Sue O'Connor, Kimberly Haslip, Robert Soto, & Elden Monday.

The weather forecast the last few days had us nervous and althought cold, the wintry mix resulting in just wet grounds and a little slippery o the bridges that were along the B&A trail (bike trail converted from railroad tracks - remember B&A Railroad from the Monopoly game?).

The out and back course for the half and then the other way for the full, made it enjoyable to see our running group members along the way to cheer them all on . . . I know it was a highlight for me.

A small race hosted by the Annapolis Striders have the logistics simple to manage, reasonably priced while the amenities after the race are sufficient to replenish with pizza, bagels, fruit, and plenty to drink.

Fast Trackers have made this a regular on their schedule with this being the 5th year we have had a contingent making the day trip or making a weekend of it in Baltimore or Annapolis.

Good outing for an early kickoff to the spring racing season or for a good training run!

Miami Marathon
Providence Full & Half Marathon
Boston Marathon
2009 Boston Marathon

In certain sports, a single word is all that is needed to communicate the significance of an event . . . in marathoning, 'Boston' I believe is such a word.  Joan Benoit Samuelson said it well in talking to Kara Goucher, the top US women in third overall (7 seconds from winning) - "now that you've run it once, you know what to do next time."  The history, tradition, and toughness of the race is well documented and the popularity and reverence is ever strong as pictures are taken endlessly the day before by many on the finish line.

It brings to mind the sense of dedication, achievement, and a certain camraderie amongst runners who partake in the 26.2 mile distance.

Although we are not a marathon club, 'Boston' drew at least 25 Fast Trackers to experience the marathon - about 15 runners and 10 spectators.  Our runners ran between 3:08 and 4:23 - a true representation of the breadth and depth of our members - all of which are winners for accomplishing the feat . . .

There were those running Boston for the first time, those running it in their fourth decade, those who ran it to celebrate a new decade, those whose goal is to run it in an upcoming year, those who requalified, and those who were glad when the race was finally over.  Whatever the reason, it brought out the best in Fast Tracks - a sharing of an experience that involved travelling groups, leadership in arranging a pre-marathon dinner, sharing and encouraging each other's hopes for race day, bike riders scouting the course on marathon morning, runners escorting qualifiers up heartbreak hill, planners of how to best spectate the course, fellow runners tracking boston runners on their mobile phones, family who joined their runners in support of their journey, and friends who ran together in support of each other's goals.

All, no doubt, have a story to share.  So chances are, talk to someone over the next week who was there, especially those who ran, and you'll sure to experience a perspective of what makes 'Boston' quite the 'event' to be a part of . . . or just check out www.bostonmarathon.org where you can read stories, see pictures, and see how the 'event' has made it's mark on the running community.

Congrats to all who participated in 2009!

See pictures by clicking here . . .

Providence Full & Half Marathons
Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

One of many races Fast Trackers participated in this weekend was the 2nd Annual Providence full and half marathons.

Seems like we got the better weather than some of the local races with overcast skies and temps in the low 50s.

A nice local race with a college atmosphere as Brown University, Johnson & Wales, Providence College, Rhode Island School of Design, and New England Technical Institute were all in the area.

A special display called Waterfire was on Saturday night which is an amazing lighting of 100 bonfires on the river that runs through the downtown area (www.waterfire.org). 

Eating on Federal Hill on Saturday evening provided the carbo loading and access to many of Providence's finer restaurants and cafes.

Course was a bit hilly but scenic by running along the waterfront, bike paths, and suburbs of providence.

Picking up a new state in the half were Stacy A, Terry Chaves (PR), and Bobbi Kisebach while Tom Chaves, Megan Morris, and Mike Reese added Rhode Island to their marathon state list.

We are patiently waiting for our flight as the weather in philly is causing significant delays ... Go figure ...

Anyway, we all enjoyed our new england excursion ...

New Jersey Marathon
Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Congrats to everyone that ran this weekend, and especially to those who got soggy.  I ran the NJ Marathon in Long Branch and while I heard rumors other Fasttrackers might be there, I didn't see any.  However, there were 9,000 runners so it's easy to miss folks.

The overall event felt like it was run by two different organizations.  The race itself was great.  The organization around it was lacking somewhat. 

The course was a 13.1 mile loop that the halves ran once and the fulls ran twice.  The path was very nice and you could see that on a nice day the run would have been beautiful.  There's a stretch right along the ocean, another stretch one block in from the ocean through a neighborhood of magnifcent homes as well as a stretch past a lake and through some other nice neighborhoods.  The streets were wide and street traffic wasn't an issue.  The course was VERY well supported as it seemed like there were fluid stops literally every two miles with lots of supply.  There were also Gu, fruit and soft pretzels being handed out along the route.  As the route was mostly through neighborhoods, there were a lot of folks with music playing and offering encouragement from their yards and porches.

The volunteers were outstanding!  There had to be 20+ people at each fluid station handing out drinks and offering encouragement.  They kept up their excitement level all day, still working hard on our second time thru the loop.  Keep in mind that couldn't have been easy as it rained on us every single step of the way!

The only thing that held the event back from being a truly enjoyable experience was the management of the things surrounding the run itself.  Because of the crowd, the organizers asked everyone to park at Monmouth Race Track, about 3 miles from the start and get shuttled to the course.  From what others told me, this was the first time they'd done that and parking in years past hadn't been an issue (at least according to those folks).  For some reason the only entrance they used to get into the parking lot was one very narrow, single lane that you had to come to almost a complete stop to negotiate.  This led to literally an hour long (or more) line of traffic to get into the lot.  Then the shuttle buses started running 20 minutes late, possible caught in the traffic for all I know, and the drivers weren't sure how to get to the staging area.   My bus made it okay but we kept hearing lost drivers on the radio trying to figure out where they were.  All this led to the race starting 30 minutes late.  Fortunately it hadn't started raining at this point (the rain literally started during the "ready, set, go" count down to the race!) or people would have been miserable queuing up 5-10 minutes early for the planned start and then waiting there another 30 minutes.

After the race, things also seemed like an afterthought.  The bag drop was in one of the host hotel's ballrooms that had easy access out the back to the start/finish line.  However, for some reason the outside access door was locked after the race and they weren't letting anyone in that way.  This meant that you had to walk all the way around a large hotel to get to the front door to get in.  This sounds minor now, but yesterday after running 26 miles it was a bigger issue!  Also, while I can't say what the post race situation was for those who run sub-4 hours marathons, by the time those of us who run 4:45's got to the refreshment tent there were only a few bottles of juice and some bananas.  There had been a huge half-marathon continent and maybe they gobbled everything up, but for an event that spent a lot of time promoting their food sponsors before hand, there wasn't much to eat afterwards.

Getting back to the parking area was just as tough as getting there in the first place.  We'd been told that the shuttle buses would pick us up in front of the host hotel and that they'd be running until 3:30 pm.  However the buses didn't come to the hotel - the pick up spot was 4 blocks away, again normally not a big deal but with exhausted quad and cramping calves it wasn't what I was looking forward to!  Then when I got on the bus at 2:15 pm, the driver said he wanted to wait a few more minutes for some other people to come because he was going to be the last bus of the day.  What happened to 3:30 pm? 

All in all, the weather sucked but that's nobody's fault and just something you live with when you have to schedule an event a year in advance, have people training 6 months for it and no option to move it indoors!  The race itself was great with lots of support, fans all along the route and a pretty course.  I can't imagine how nice it would have been had the sun been out.  The logistics are a struggle and for anyone thinking of running this race in the future, I'd just recommend going into it with that in mind.  Almost all the problems could have been solved had I tried to find a place to park in town with a cooler in my car, something several people told me they did so it's not an impossibility.  I was by myself but having a non-running friend who could drop you off and then come back later would have helped too.   Also, they do give out a nice finisher's medal and a really nice finisher's hat, which I can probably wear around town just as proudly but not quite as ostentaciously as the medal!

Sandy Herzlich

New Jersey  Marathon
Big Sur Marathon
Big Sur Marathon
April 26th 2009

Dear Fast Tracks Friends,

If the Big Sur Marathon isn’t on your list of marathons, put it there. It is beautifully organized and one of the great courses in the U.S. Lots of hills. And spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

Once again, chasing the Monday night trail runners, up and down Mt Misery and Mt Joy, enabled me to run 4:12:10 marathon to qualify for New York and Boston. For the first time in my 27 marathons, I ran an even pace from beginning to end (actually the second half was a few seconds faster than the first!). Special thanks go to Mary Wood who ran with me during the spring. The hills in Valley Forge really are good training. Mary, I never walked. The hills just never got that hard despite being long and sometimes steep.

This was my 65th birthday treat and my 4 year old Granddaughter and her parents met me at the finish line with cries of “GO GRAN GO”. Can the life of us runners get any better than that?

So thank you all for being a part of my life and for putting new joy into my running.



Seattle Rock 'n Roll Marathon
Seattle Rock 'n Roll Marathon
June 27th, 2009
Sorry for the delay - here is my recap of the inaugural Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon on June 27, 2009, from a first timer's point of view (to enjoy reading over your holiday weekend):

On the eve of the race, the stage was set; everything that lied out of my control was lining up for the next day. Seth and I were able to book reservations at one of my favorite pre-race dinner restaurants, Maggiano's, with Tom Chaves, Terry and our close Seattle friends, and weather.com was predicting perfect race conditions for the next morning - low 60's and sunny. To my disbelief, I held my composure through dinner and felt at ease, knowing I had all of the training behind me to get me through whatever was to come the next day.

At 3:30am the next morning, I woke up with complete excitement and could not fall back asleep. I had my race gear laid out the night before and was ready to go. At the start line at 7am, I found the 4 hour pace group to get me started. I met a girl named Pamela from St. Louis who was running her 2nd marathon with hopes to beat 4 hours. As the gun went off, she explained that her ultimate goal in the next year was to run Boston.

Our first 6 miles were steady, about a 9:30 min/mi pace which I was happy with since it kept me from running too fast at the start and helped to conserve energy until later in the race when I knew it would be much needed. After
passing Seth at mile 6, I remember admiring how placid Lake Washington looked and truly being thankful for what I had at that moment - I was healthy, breathing this fresh air, had just successfully completed my training without
any injuries, and was running 26.2 miles in this picturesque scenery. Pamela and I also learned that we had a lot in common in those first few miles - we were around the same age, had similar stories in how we met our fiances and to my excitement, I found out that she was a Presbyterian. I told her that it's times like this that were we're reminded that we're not in the boat alone, and I'll never forget how she responded: "Yes Elisha, we are not in the boat alone and I believe that there's a meaning behind every person that we encounter in life".

Miles 10-11 were on the Lake Washington "floating bridge" where the marathoners split from the half marathoners and enjoyed this breathtaking view of the snow-capped imprint of Mt Rainer in the distance. At this point, Pamela had gotten really quiet, so I had a lot of time to think to myself. I remember with each step I started my thank you's to the individuals who have truly touched my life...yes, I'm pretty sure that I named every Fast Tracker that I have every trained with! By mile 11, Pamela had walked through the last water stop and I noticed that our pace had slowed down quite a bit. Therefore, I went ahead for the rest of the race, running through all of the mental techniques I knew from my training runs.

After seeing Seth again at an overpass at mile 15, I started to struggle mentally. Since my dislike for the course energy drink, Cytomax, was becoming stronger with each water stop, I kept going with the anticipation of my friend
Mike who was waiting at the mile 18.5 turnaround to pass off a familiar tasting fruit punch Gatorade to me. It wasn't until about mile 19 where I really started to struggle - the breeze was chilly enough that crowds were dressed in long
sleeves and pants, and I suddenly was overcome with chills and goosebumps. Remembering what everyone told me during training, I tried to stay calm and readjusted my main goal in my head - the first marathon should be to finish, not about time, so I started to walk.

At mile 23, I was alternating between walking and running, and met a fellow named Jeff who was doing the same. Without thinking, I told him that no matter what, we are marathoners and that we are going to finish this race. He told me this is true, and interestingly enough, I found out Jeff's original time goal was 4 hours. Realizing that we were in the same boat, Jeff helped coach me through mile 24 or so when I warmed back up. He told me to go ahead and finish strong, and I thanked him for being my Running Angel during this race.

Before I knew what was happening, I was passing mile 26 and rounding the corner to the finish line! Those last 0.2 miles were a whirlwind; I was overcome with so much emotion that I had tears running down my face. As I crossed the line, I threw my hands in the air and looked at the sky, thanking God for making me a true marathoner. :)

Looking back at the past year, I realized that I am truly blessed. To say that I started my running career with training for my first 5K last May (Race for the Cure) to running an injury-free 4hr 19min marathon this year is something that
I'm very proud of. Thank you everyone who has loved and supported me along the way - I am truly thankful to have you in my life.


PS - Here is a link to some photos: