Tag Archives: River Run Club

Running in the Triangle ~ A Look Back & The Road Ahead in 2015

The Upper Neuse Greenway

The Upper Neuse Greenway

This past weekend I ventured out for a brisk Saturday morning run on the Neuse Greenway and used that time alone to reflect on the past year of running. Looking back, 2014 was a fun year of running. I completed my second half marathon in April running in the first inaugural Rock n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon and achieved my goal of a sub-4 hour marathon finish in my second attempt at the City of Oaks Marathon in November. I even participated in the Sir Walter Miler event in August logging in my fastest single mile ever at 6 minutes 30 seconds. That may not be fast for some, but for me it was a huge accomplishment!

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Big Boss Run Club

Along the way I made some great new running friends at my two favorite local run clubs, the Big Boss Run Club & the River Run Club and managed to explore many new parts of Raleigh as I trained on miles and miles of the city greenway system. My favorite stretches right now are the Upper Neuse Greenway from Falls Dam to the WRAL Soccer Park (6.5 Miles) and the trails leading from Shelly Lake all the way down to Meredith College (also about 6.5 miles).

 Running in Raleigh On a Cold January Day

Running in Raleigh On a Cold January Day

As I look ahead to 2015 I have my sights set on more modest running goals in the coming year, but I’m still looking forward to getting out there and logging some miles. I’ll be taking break from full marathons for a while instead focusing on shorter distances like the All American Half Marathon in Fayetteville in March and the Bull City Racefest in Durham in October. I also hope to finally break past the 1,000 mile mark in 2015 (a milestone that eluded me last year) and maybe take in a 10K or two. Whatever your running goals in the coming year, I hope you enjoy the journey and try a new running trail or two as you train for your next race. Maybe I’ll see you out there on the Greenway one weekend. Until then – run strong!

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2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Race Recap

Rock n Roll Raleigh Marathon 1

Runners Ready to Go!

Have you ever run 13.1 miles with a camera? I did just that this past Sunday as I took the streets of downtown Raleigh with 12,500 other runners to race in Raleigh’s Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & Half Marathon. I was slightly under trained for the race and decided to just have fun with it. No worrying about personal records or stressing over finishing times. I was simply excited to be a part of it all and enjoy the rare opportunity to have my camera with me to capture scenes along the 13.1 mile course.

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Sunrise as the Race Begins

I started out in Corral #2 because I had optimistically predicted a 1:45 finish time. This of course was before the bleak winter and I  didn’t get nearly as many training runs in as I had hoped. Come race day I knew I would likely finish somewhere closer to the 2 hour mark, but wasn’t concerned about it. It was actually kind of refreshing to not worry about the finish time. It was a beautiful day for the race with morning temps in the low 60’s and expected to reach the low 80’s by the afternoon. We set out around 7:10 just in time to catch the sunrise as it basked downtown Raleigh in it’s warm orange glow.

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Ellis Dyson & the Shambles

The postcard race course winded us through Oakwood, Chavis Park, Cameron Village, Dorothea Dix, and several other picturesque portions of downtown. Along the way there were local bands  playing every few miles and pumping up the runners with their music. One of my favorites was the Shaw University Marching Band with brass players blasting from a bridge as runners ran below. Another favorite was a band out of Chapel Hill called Ellis Dyson & the Shambles. I loved their upright bass, fiddle, and horn section! I actually stopped to listen to them play for a minute while I snapped a few pictures. It was still early on in the race, but it was a welcome break!

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Half Marathon Selfie

As I made my way through the 13.1 miles I stopped a few times to take pictures of the bands, friends and fellow runners. It was great running into so many familiar faces out on the course. I also enjoyed seeing so many spectators and a few rouge musicians playing along the the route. My favorite was a little girl playing her violin for the runners.  While having my camera out I couldn’t resist trying to take a running “selfie” to capture the experience. The photo above was taken somewhere between mile 8 and 9 on Western Boulevard as we made our way back to downtown Raleigh.

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Tribute to Fallen Soldiers

As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t as prepared for this race as I had hoped. It was also a fairly hilly course (Raleigh is not as flat as some people think). I was definitely feeling fatigued as I entered the last 3 miles of the course. I got a huge boost of energy however as we ran through Dorothea Dix Park and saw Tribute to Fallen Soldiers lining the course. Everyone I have spoken to was very moved by this tribute. Seeing pictures honoring the fallen soldiers and the numerous American flags waving in the wind with the Raleigh Skyline in the background gave me goosebumps and the rush of power I needed to push through the final miles.

Rock n Roll Raleigh Marathon 2

Approaching the Finish Line!

Soon after the course entered back into the core of downtown for the home stretch to the finish line. I was nice to see so many spectators cheering runners on along Fayetteville Street. I took my camera out for one last shot as I approached the finish line. I crossed the finish at 2 hours and 5 seconds. Not a PR but I was very pleased with the time considering the hilly course and the fact I had stopped so many times to take pictures.

Me & My Friends RnR Raleigh

River Run Club Friends Post Race

As I crossed the finish I grabbed my medal and ran into Anj and Jill, two of my running friends from the River Run Club, an awesome run club filled with runners of all levels that meets each Thursday to run at 7pm in North Raleigh.  They both had a great race and Jill even pulled off a PR finishing in under two hours on what was definitely a challenging and hilly course. Way to go Jill!

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A Race Relaxes Below Sir Walter Raleigh

As I made my way from the finish line I grabbed some water, chocolate milk and a banana to recharge and headed over to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh post race concert. Raleigh his well suited for this with the Red Hat Amphitheater situated just one block west of the finish line. I liked the idea of a post race event like a concert because it gives runners a chance to chill out, drink a beer and catch up with friends to share about the race while it is all still fresh in your mind. It was also simply just a beautiful day to be downtown.

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Finisher’s Medal in front of NC Capitol Building

I was very impressed with the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh race. I thought it was well organized and I loved the route through the downtown street. If you missed the race this year because it sold out, don’t fret. The race is scheduled to return next year on April 12, 2015 and will be held in Raleigh for at least the next three years. Online Registration for the 2015 race in Raleigh will open up in May. You can get additional information on the official race website here.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh – April 13, 2014
Finish Time for Half Marathon: 2 hours 0 minutes 5 seconds
You can view all of my pictures from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Race in my flickr photo album. Happy racing!

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2013 – My Year of Running in the Triangle

Shelley Lake North Raleigh

Trail at Shelley Lake in North Raleigh

I will always remember 2013 as the year I became a “runner”. Just a year ago the longest distance I had ever run was 5 miles and that was a challenge. Back then the thought of running a full marathon seemed inconceivable to me. Somewhere along the way I was bitten by the run bug and got serious about my training.

Big Boss Beer Run Club

Big Boss Run Club

While I enjoying running solo, I also had a wonderful time this year running with social run clubs like the Big Boss Run Club and River Run Club. Both are excellent free weekly social run clubs that welcome runners of all levels.  I learned so much from running with these groups. It was nice preparing for races with others who were going through the same process and getting advice from more seasoned runners along the way.

City of Oaks Marathon Metal

2013 Race Medals

2013 Race Results 
As year draws to a close I am proud to look back on 2013 and the three races I completed:

Tobacco Road Half Marathon – March 2013
Tobacco Road was my first “real race”. The course was nice and flat with crushed gravel the majority of the way along the Tobacco Road Greenway. My training program capped out at 10 miles and it took everything I had just to finish and I was starting to fade at the end of the race. Afterwards I knew that if I was ever going to run a full marathon I would have to train smarter.

Time: 1 hour 53 minutes 32 seconds

Tar Heel 10 Miler – April 2013
I ran my fastest of all three races in the 10-miler. Not so much because it was the shortest distance of the three, but because I didn’t have a GPS watch yet and ran with a 8:30 min/mile pace group that actually ended up running a faster 8:00 min/mile. I knew it felt fast but I hung with the group and finished with a much better time than I expected. The hills were tough but running through downtown Chapel Hill was beautiful.

Time: 1 hour 21 minutes 20 seconds

City Of Oaks Marathon – November 2013
As my first ever full marathon, the City of Oaks was by far my most challenging race. I took my training seriously and followed a six month training program I cobbled together after researching several popular beginner marathon programs online. I went into the race injury free and excited to take on the challenge. The day of the race was beautiful and I will always remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed the finish line.

While I had trained hard, ultimately I found I was slightly unprepared for the numerous  hills along the marathon course – don’t ever let anybody tell you Raleigh is not hilly! After feeling good for the first 3 hours of the race I hit “the wall” around mile 21. I needed to take a few walking breaks by mile 23 but was able to punch through and finish strong with a time I am very proud of.

Looking back, I learned several valuable lessons about training and nutrition from the experience of preparing and running in my first marathon. With the benefit this experience I have a new perspective and look forward to coming back even stronger in 2014 with the goal of finishing the marathon in under 4 hours.

Time: 4 hours 9 minutes 6 seconds

Raleigh Krispy Kreme Challenge

Running in the Krispy Kreme Challenge on Hillsborough Street

Looking Ahead 
I took it relatively easy during the months of November and December following the City of Oaks Marathon, but now I am looking ahead to the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in Raleigh on April 13, 2014. There is a full marathon option too, but I plan on running 2-3 halfs in 2014 followed by a return to the City of Oaks full marathon in the fall of 2014. By the way, if your new year’s resolutions include plans for signing up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh race you can save $10 off registration by using the discount code “TRIEXPLORERAL10”. This code will work as long as you register before April 6, 2014 and is good for both the full and half marathon.

My 2014 Running Goals
1. Earn my Big Boss Run Club t-shirt! (Need to run 15 times with the club)
2. Run 1,000 miles by December 31, 2014
3. Complete a Half Marathon in under 1 hour 50 minutes
4. Return to the City of Oaks Marathon and finish in under 4 hours.

Running at Big Boss Run Club

Running at Big Boss Run Club

Thank You
As I turn the page on my 2013 running experience and look forward to 2014 I’d like to give a special thanks to Jon Odgers of the Big Boss Run Club for the many helpful training tips he shared over the year. If you are a runner and enjoy craft beer I highly recommend following his blog and posts on twitter at @beerandracing. I would also like to thank the great people at the River Run Club in North Raleigh @riverrunclub. They are a fantastic group of fun people to run with. I look forward to many runs with both groups in the new year. Happy running in 2014!

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North Wake Landfill Park in North Raleigh – An Unexpected Green Space

Top of the Hill Trail

Top of the Hill Trail

As I prepare to run in my first marathon this fall I find myself constantly looking for new places to avoid getting bored using the same old route. Since the race I am running, the City of Oaks Marathon, is right here in Raleigh it is also important that I incorporate some hill work into my routine so I am ready for of the topography on race day. Fortunately I live just down the road from the relatively new North Wake Landfill Park located off Durant Road in North Raleigh which provides a short hill perfect for hill training

View from the Top

As the name implies this the North Wake Landfill District Park is in built on top of a now closed landfill. The landfill was capped a few years ago and is now used as a park with fantastic open green space with a small playground, walking and mountain biking trails, picnic shelter, and great views from the the top of the “Big Hill”.

North Wake Landfill Park

Park Map

I pulled the map above from the park’s official website. It shows the location of the trails, parking and various recreational areas. It is a small park, but I find it to be a great place to do short runs and work on hill repeats. If you are looking for longer runs you can take one of the trails that connects to the the much longer Neuse Greenway trail that stretches on for miles

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Top of the Hill Trail

I need to give a “tip of the hat” to the River Run Club for the idea of using this park for “hill repeat” runs.  This place is so convient to my neck of the woods and the hill is challenging but not impossible so it makes for a good training spot. The “Top of the Hill Trail”  is only .07 miles long with an elevation climbing to 469 feet above sea level. Once up top you your efforts are rewarded with a nice view of the surrounding area including downtown Raleigh. I enjoy running up and down 5-6 times then doing a quick loop around the park.

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Another View from the Top

The park is open from dawn to dusk. Signs currently posted at the entrance indicate exactly what time the gates will close at night. Right now the park is ope from 8am to 9pm. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a new place to run, walk, or just get some nice views from the hill. Park brochure with addition information.

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