Confessions of a Lazy Blogger

Hi my name is Frank, and I’m a lazy blogger.  Having posted only once in March and not at all in April and June until now I realized when my feet stop running on roads my fingers usually stop running on keyboards.

In front of the Brooklyn Museum before the Brooklyn Half Marathon,

In front of the Brooklyn Museum before the Brooklyn Half Marathon,

I haven’t stopped running completely—it only seems that way.  I’ve raced four times since my last post.  Running the Brooklyn Half and finishing the Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon 5K, on the racetrack were two of this year’s highlights.  Despite those highlights running hasn’t been fun.

Finishing a race on Belmont Park, was a first.  ©Quicksilver Striders

Finishing a race on Belmont Park, was a first. ©Quicksilver Striders

I’ve blown off training runs, track work and hill work.  I’ve been idle on days where I’d easily done a five miler.  The lack of road work has shown, in my race results. Last Sunday I finished 14th out of 18 teammates in the Portugal Day 5-miler.  That was a wakeup call.

The inactivity has shown up somewhere else, on the scale.  Last year I lost over 40 pounds and raced at about 192.  The past few weeks, I’ve tipped the scales between a beefy 215 and a beefier 220 and have been sluggish, another wakeup call.

I know expectant fathers gain sympathy weight, but c’mon Frank, that’s bullshit.  It’s time to get moving one step at a time, keep moving forward.

Esther and I leaving Belmont Racetrack after the Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon 5K ©Quicksilver Striders

Esther and I leaving Belmont Racetrack after the Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon 5K ©Quicksilver Striders

No Sleep ’til Brooklyn

BK Half 2014 - 2

On the course during last year's Brooklyn Half

On the course during last year’s Brooklyn Half

It’s that time of year again, its mid-May, and Esther and I are planning on getting up early and taking both cars into Brooklyn, leaving one in Coney Island the other in Park Slope.  I guess it’s time for the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Always a highlight on NYRR’s calendar, demand has grown in recent years.  Running teams set up reminders on team calendars and Facebook pages so they wouldn’t miss race registration which sold out in less than 24 hours for last year’s race.  Read about it here.

This point-to-point race from the Brooklyn Museum to the Coney Island Boardwalk has a Brooklyn attitude.  Transportation challenges, a unique course, and a 4 am wake-up call haven’t stopped me from coming back—five times in the last six years.

Although my training’s been inconsistent and last year’s 1:48:39 p.r. is safe, I’m looking forward to running Brooklyn’s streets tomorrow morning.  After the race my teammates and plan to grab a hot dog at Nathan’s and maybe take a ride on the Cyclone.  Time for new memories.

70 Days Later, I’m Back

It’s been over 70 days since my last post, about the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K race—Coogan’s.   Although I’ve been away from the keyboard a lot has happened since March.  To avoid writing an overlong post, I’ve decided to recap the last 70 days in a quick list.

Will the baby be born wearing running shoes?

Will the baby be born wearing running shoes?

1-Esther and I are going to be parents-We’ve known since January but only recently announced it.  Our lives are going to change—in a good way.  I guess next year I’ll be racing with a jog stroller.

2-Walking a half marathon is harder than running one-Pregnancy isn’t keeping Esther from qualifying for next year’s New York City Marathon.  Since she’s not allowed to run, she’s walking her races.  Walking the More Half was tougher than running any of the combined 70 plus halfs we’ve done.  We were sore.

3- I’m now a two-time Ultramarathoner-Lacking mileage and hill work, why did I sign up for a hilly race like the Sybil Ludington 50K?  Because I can.  I figured I could run the first 26.2 in five hours.  That left me two hours to run the last five miles so I could finish within the seven-hour time limit.   I ran a 6:06:29 finishing 26th out of 33 over hills than reminded me of the Price is Right Yodeling Mountain Climber.

The Sybil Ludington 50K's Elevation Chart

The Sybil Ludington 50K’s Elevation Chart

4-I ran my first 5K race (in a cemetery)-The Cypress Hills 5K Run through History is held in honor of fallen NYPD Office Peter Figoski as a fundraiser for the PBA Widows and Orphans Fund and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  The winding hilly course in the cemetery that is the final resting place for Jackie Robinson, Mae West, Peter Luger and Eubie Blake.  Coming in on heavy legs and three-hours sleep after partying at friend’s wedding,  I didn’t run my best time, but it didn’t matter.

Esther and I finishing up the Cypress Hills 5K Run Through History

Esther and I finishing up the Cypress Hills 5K Run Through History

 5-Racing Became a Family Event- Last year my mother -in-law lost her fight with Pancreatic Cancer.  To honor her memory her children, Esther, Bobby and Rose Marie honored her memory by signing up for the PanCan PurpleStride 5K race in Prospect Park.  Joined by our Quicksilver Striders teammates we raised money, ran a 5K and had a great time.  Somewhere “Lola” was looking down and smiling.

Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby after the PanCan PurpleStride 5K Race

Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby after the PanCan PurpleStride 5K Race

6-I Finally Ran the Scotland Run-This 10K race in Central Park among kilt-clad runners to the sounds of bagpipe music was on my Bucket List for years.  I already signed up for the race when I wrote The Bucket List post, so I didn’t include it.

7-I Ran another Double Header Weekend-A day after the Scotland Run I was in Congers New York for the Hook Half Marathon.  This hilly scenic local race over paved road and trails is a good training race for my spring marathon.  This year I ran a course p.r. of 2:00:42.

8-Time for a New Toy-My Forerunner 305 finally died, 4:58:44 in the Sybil Ludington 50K Race.  I’ve replaced “the brick” with a new brick, the Forerunner 310.  The 20-hour battery life and affordable price seemed more than adequate for a 50-miler.

   

I’m Calling it Coogan’s

Yesterday morning Esther and I trekked up to Northern Manhattan for the most unique race on New York Road Runners calendar, the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K.  This race through Washington Heights’s streets is more than a race—it’s an event.   Known for green bagels, live bands playing salsa, blues, jazz and classic rock along the course and a kid’s races showcasing the next generation of young runners.

In the crowded corral before the race.

In the crowded corral before the race.

The race may have a new name but runners still call it Coogan’s the same way New Yorkers still call the RFK Bridge the Triborough Bridge.  Although the name is new the course is the same tight hilly out and back that’s both challenging and beautiful.  Starting near the armory runners head up Washington Height’s narrow streets heading uphill towards Fort Tryon Park passing the cloisters and looping around the park and then it’s down the rolling hills to the finish.

Heading out to the start

Heading out to the start

Yesterday’s race was the first race in NYRR’s Club Series and although I had a cranky knee from last Sunday’s Central Park Marathon there was no way I wasn’t running.  I planned running slow or maybe pacing a teammate.  I also planned on taking a few pictures along the course as I ran.

The Race

Out and back runners in Fort Tryon Park

Out and back runners in Fort Tryon Park

Starting in a cramped corral, snapping random pictures as I went, my fellow racers pulled me out fast—but not too fast.  Watching NYRR’s volunteers frantically trying to keep outbound runners from spreading out into the incoming lane—in a field of about 6000 it seemed as futile as herding cats.  Passing the first-mile marker I looked up and saw the lead runners heading towards the finish.  I wasn’t running for a p.r. but seeing that still gets in your head a little bit.

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Heading into Fort Tryon Park I ran an 8:08 first mile surprised at how well my knee was behaving.  Soaking up atmosphere and moving forward along Northern Manhattan’s rolling hills I ran a 7:56 second mile.  Hmmm.

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Passing bands playing classic 80’s tunes I headed towards the finish.  There was one hill left at about 2.5 miles and then it’s all downhill.  Picking up the pace I saw teammates Rohan and Dred cheering as I passed them.  Passing the last hill my pack of runners opened up running downhill towards the finish.   I finished in 24:23 good for third overall on the Quicksilver Striders.   Not bad for a guy who wanted to take things easy.  After the race, Esther and I munched on green bagels and watched the kids races with teammates.   Regardless of the name, the race experience didn’t disappoint.

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The Central Park Marathon

 

Runners lined up for the start of the race

Runners lined up for the start of the race

I woke up to silence.  Where was the annoying buzz of my alarm clock?  Looking at the clock it said 6:00.  “Damn I forgot to set the alarm.”  I wanted to be finished with my morning stretch and walking Chico by now.  “Don’t worry Frank, you still have time,” I told myself.  Moving faster than I wanted, I did my stretches made coffee and walked Chico.

Kissing Esther before I left, I let her sleep in, a luxury she rarely gets.  She planned to meet me towards the end of the race when seeing her smiling face would give me a much-need boost.

Leaving home at 7:30 there was still time to get to Central Park before the 8:30 start.  Listening to the Canada/Sweden gold-medal game as I drove in I tried to get into race mode as the butterflies were swirled around my stomach.

Concerns     

Race Director Steve Lastoe giving runners last minute instructions

Race Director Steve Lastoe giving runners last minute instructions

It’s no secret I came into this race unprepared, I’ve posted about it here and here.  The last time I ran a marathon without any long runs was the 2012 Long Island Marathon.  My Dad had hip replacement surgery a few weeks before the race and I did very training runs and no long runs while he recovered.  I knew if I didn’t run a smart race, it would start getting ugly after about 15 miles.

Strategy

Coming in I knew I wasn’t running a p.r.—I was ok with that. Running a smart race meant fixing mistakes made in past marathons. Before yesterday I ran 10 marathons—went out too fast in all of them—and paid for it in the last six or seven miles.  A 4:45 marathon was my goal, to do that I planned on running a 2:08 for the first half and 2:37 for the second half. That meant running 9:46 splits for the first half of the race and 11:59 splits for the second half.

Pre-Race

Dropping off my bag at 8:15 I said hello a few NYC Runs Crew members who are Facebook Friends and walked the mile to the start of the race.  I got my first surprise of the day when I heard, “Hey Frank!”  Looking up I saw my friend Linda, who told me here husband Leo was running the marathon.

I found Leo at the back of the corral with a hug and a smile.  Leo is training for his next Ironman and like me the rough weather cut into his mileage.  Coming into the race with a tank of gas that was less than half full we knew running a slow steady pace was the only way to get through this race.  Leo looked at me and said, “5:14:59”, a reference to the race’s 5:15:00 time limit.

The Race

The course started on 96thStreet, 1.2 miles from the 102nd Street Transverse from there it was five loops from the transverse to the bottom of the park.  Thankfully Harlem Hill was not part of the course.  Leo and I spent the first loop catching up on family and friends and cracking the kind of jokes that make our wives roll their eyes.  Passing the 72nd Street transverse we cheered a woman running the half—on crutches.

Leo and I starting Loop 4 - Photo Linda Perales

Leo and I starting Loop 4 – Photo Linda Perales

We ran the first loop faster than we wanted—running splits between 9:18 and 9:49.  Starting the second loop Leo told me his longest training run was 10 miles.  “Don’t worry,” I told him, “we’ll make up for it today.”

The second loop was similar to the first, only slower, running “the tits” the pair of hills on the west side and Cat Hill on the east side will do that to you.  Passing the Fred Lebow statue Leo pointed to the other side, “Look there’s Linda!”  We waved as she snapped a few pictures as we passed.

At the midway point at my watch said 2:09 and change, my legs still felt good but were moving slower.  Running over 40 races in Central Park taught me where the downhills are and where to ride them for speed and where to let gravity carry me to save my legs.

14 miles in Esther texted me, she was leaving for the park, I replied, “14.30 in two2217.  Linda is in the park—call her when you get there,” thankful for the voice recognition software on my iPhone.

Finishing our third loop, I looked up and saw Coach Maria, who told me she’d pace me for a loop or two.  Seeing Leo and I running together she said, “You guys look OK.”  I told Leo about the running joke Maria and I have.  Almost every time she’s come out to pace me, she finds me running with a pretty girl.  Today she found me running with you.

On our fourth loop, Leo said, “you carried me 17 miles, you have to go.”  I told him,” You kept me

Making the last push for the finish - Photo Esther Priegue

Making the last push for the finish – Photo Esther Priegue

running a steady pace, I didn’t carry you.” Fighting our way up a hill that felt like a full D Cup we fist bumped and I coasted down the next hill to navigate the last nine miles solo.

Running more than walking I passed Linda as I started the last loop—giving her a high five I said, “One to go.” Checking my watch and doing mental math, I realized I was ahead of pace.  Coasting down the east-side hills with three miles left, I thought if I could keep this pace, I’ll run a 4:40.

I spent the last three miles alternating between running and walking.  I played leap frog with a blonde runner dressed in green for two miles, taking turns passing each other.  Walking up Cat Hill my 4:40 was slipping away from me.  Starting a slow shuffle at the top of the hill I passed her, when my shuffle became a walk, she passed me, and then I passed her.  At 96th Street she passed me for the last time.

With a half mile left, I shuffled towards the transverse listening for music and the end of the race.  Checking my watch at the last turn, I could still break 4:45.  Looking up and seeing Esther and Linda shouting “4:45” I mustered up a last kick finishing in 4:44:26.

After hugging and kissing both Esther and Linda, I gave them my race recap as we waited for Leo to finish.  He came in at 5:02:10.  Walking over on shaky legs I gave him a hug to congratulate him.  Coach Maria came by to congratulate both of us.  “Hey Maria, I ran my 20 miler today,” I joked.

It didn’t matter that this was one of my slower marathons.  Coming I knew I didn’t have my best, but I dug deep and finished what I started.  For today, that was enough.

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The Central Park Marathon—It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

© NYCRUNS

© NYCRUNS

Tomorrow morning I’m running marathon eleven, the Central Park Marathon.  This is the second year for this race hosted by NYC Runs—I ran the half last year—and like last year I’m coming into the race unprepared.

Last year’s Central Park Half was my second race after recovering from a broken foot.  Although I have two healthy feet, I’m not as confident as I was three weeks ago. Icy roads, steady snowfall and a recent bout with the flu kept me off the roads and treadmills and sapped my energy.

Looking more confident than I feel as I pick up my bib.

Looking more confident than I feel as I pick up my bib.

I managed a 1:29:05 in last weekend’s Cherry Tree 10 Miler on rubbery legs.  I’ve run no long training runs and am just starting to feel like myself.  So why am I running, if going in I know it’s going to be a long miserable day?  I’m stubborn.  The entry fee is paid.

Although tomorrow looks like a long miserable afternoon, it’s also a challenge.  I want to see how I’ll do when I’m not at my best.  I’m looking to run a spring ultra in April or May so at the very least it will be a long training run with Gatorade.

Planning my strategy for tomorrow, I know Central Park well.  I know five laps up Cat Hill and “the tits,” the double hills in the West 70’s will be rough, but I also know where the down hills are as well.  My plan is to keep my ego and in check and run a smart race.  If I don’t chase others and run my race it will be ok

So how does someone run a 26.2 mile race when they are only prepared for 13.1?  I’ll let you know if the race recap.

Throwback Thursday – Are You a Runner?

Esther running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2006.

Esther running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2006.

It’s Throwback Thursday, so I am reposting a Classic Post, Are You a Runner?  Read on and let me know how many times you were shaking your head in agreement.

I rediscovered running shortly after meeting my wife Esther in 2008. We raced on weekends and went for morning training runs before work. One of our first dates was a twilight run in Central Park. So imagine my surprise about a year later when she told me, “you’re a runner, I’m not a runner.”

Esther’s not your prototypical runner, then again neither am I. Her curvy figure is more J-Lo than Lolo Jones, but her exploits have gotten more people to sign up for their first 5K or four-miler — I know this personally because I am one of them. I imagine my surprise when she told me after finishing about 70 races, “I’m not a runner, you are a runner.”

Leo and Linda, two of our closest friends and running buddies would constantly tell her, “you’re a runner,” but she didn’t believe us. It wasn’t until we were in bag check after her 100th race that she realized,” ok I’m a runner” — something the rest of us already knew.

You don’t have to look or run like a Kenyan — most of us don’t. If you are still uncertain if you are a runner, I put the following list together:

Do you have at least a 30-day supply of race t-shirts?  9992

Have you gone out for a quick run before the blizzard hit?

Does your running watch double as a dress watch?

Do you have one pair of dress shoes and eight pairs of running shoes?

Is your idea of designer labels, Nike, Under Armour and The North Face?

Have you hopped from foot to foot on cold winter mornings waiting for the GPS on your Garmin to synch?

Are you the person who convinces friends and family members to sign up for their first race?

Do you own at least one book by Hal Higdon, Scott Jurek or Dean Karnazes?

Have you read Born to Run and, then ordered Pinole online and signed up for an ultra-marathon?

Do you own the movies Forrest Gump, Run Fatboy Run or Chariots of Fire?

Have you posted pictures of you and Bart Yasso, John Bingham or Dean Karnazes on Facebook?

Have you run a half marathon in the morning, showered and went to work?

Do you use Active.com, NYC Runs, or NYRR to fill your race calendar?

Do you have a profile on Athlinks and looked for your rivals on race day?

Esther and I after my first race in 2008

Esther and I after my first race in 2008

Do you get antsy if you’ve gone over two weeks without signing up for a race?

Is your idea of a double-header a race on Saturday and a race on Sunday?

Have you put off knee surgery because you already up for races the next two weekends?

Do you plan your vacations around destination races?

Is signing the family up for the Ragner Relay your idea of an ideal vacation?

Do you see your neighbors coming in from a night on the town as you are leaving for a Sunday morning race?

Have you gone for a run as a date?

Do passing other runners, kids on razor scooters and women pushing Cadillac Strollers during training runs in Central Park give you a rush?

Have you thought running 52 marathons in 52 weeks like Julie Weiss and Dana Casanave is really cool?

Have you raced on back-to-back weekends, or rather back-to-back days?

Have you thought about giving race t-shirts and old running shoes as wedding favors?

Do you wait until after the race to wear the race t-shirt?

Have you posted race pictures as your profile picture on Facebook?

Have you signed up for your next marathon, while picking up your bib for this weekend’s marathon?

Has your medal rack run out of spaces for medals?

Is at least one wall in your home wallpapered with race bibs?

Do you have so much race gear that you had to buy another dresser to hold it?

If you found yourself making a mental checklist or nodding your head as you read this, guess what? You’re a runner. It’s not about how fast you go, what’s important is that you get going. A mile is still a mile whether you are running them in six minutes of sixteen minutes.

Did you like the post?  Shake your head in agreement?  Post a comment and let me know.

Five Minutes with Heather Ziegler

HZ2AName:  Heather Zeigler

Location:  Downers Grove, IL

Occupation:  Supervisory Workers’ Compensation Claims Examiner for the DOL

Facebookwww.facebook.com/hzeigler

Instagram:  HeatherZeigler7

Race History

How many total races have you run?  100+ (I have no idea of the exact total!)

How many 5K’s have you run?  No idea  – probably about 5 a year since 2005

How many 10K’s have you run?  No idea again – less than the 5K’s

How many Half Marathons have you run?  40

How many Marathons have you run?  73

How many Ultras have you run?  2

HZ5

Are you a Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatic?  How/why did you join them?  Yes.  I am a “double agent.”  I became a Maniac first.  I had made a personal goal to run 50 marathons before I turned 50 in the Fall of 2010 (I was 30).  At that point I had only run 2 marathons.  At my first marathon after I had made that goal, I met a Maniac that had something on her shirt about running 52 marathons in a year.  I thought she was crazy!  I talked to her and another Maniac for a bit before the race and when I told them my goal they laughed at me.  I had no idea how easy my goal was until that moment.  I quickly became a Maniac after that and I completed my 50th marathon when I was 32.  I’m 100% sure that I will reach 100 marathons before I’m 50! J  I am also now a Half Fanatic.  I enjoy being both because it’s allowed me to meet so many people.  I haven’t gone to a race without knowing at least 1 person since 2011!

Other running groups/affiliations?  Run it Fast, 50sub4, 50 States Marathon Club

How long have you been running?  I had to run in college for Navy ROTC (1998) but I hated it and I was not good at it at all.  So, I don’t really feel like I started running until 2005 when I started to run for me and really started to enjoy it!

How did you start running?  I started to enjoy running after I had my daughter in December of 2005.  I had always been a pretty big girl but once I started to lose weight from the running, I fell in LOVE!  I lost about 45 pounds in early 2006 and I haven’t turned back.

HZ3

What is your favorite distance?  The Marathon

What do you do when you are not running?  Spend time with my daughter, go to movies, read, and EAT!

What am I asked about running?  I get a lot of questions about training and shoes.  And what my favorite races have been.

What is on your iPod playlist?  Anything but country!

Because of running I am skinny and happy!  HZ8

When I travel I am usually traveling to run a marathon

Favorite running memory?  My favorite running memory was at the Leading Ladies marathon in South Dakota this past summer.  I took a road trip with my mom and my daughter to this race.  I had been getting closer and closer to running a Boston Qualifying time so I chose this race because of its fast course…it worked!  Coming in to that finish with my mom and my daughter there cheering me in was exhilarating!  I had never thought that I could run that fast and having it all come together with two of the most important people in my life there to support me was awesome!

What is your running pet peeve?  Well, as far as my pet peeve for other runners, I would say that I hate it when people start in the front when they should start in the back of a race.  People should know their pace!  As far as my pet peeve for races, I would say they have to have enough water stops and enough water for everyone and I have many, many pet peeves about race websites…basically, they better be extremely informative!

Before a race I – My pre-race rituals have changed over the years.  Now I like to have something with carbs for lunch and a salad and margarita for dinner.  I also like to try to get a good night’s sleep.  I’m not a very superstitious person though.  I don’t get too stressed out if I don’t stick to that plan J

HZ11

I’m Down 1.2

ScaleThis past week has been a rough one, not because of writer’s block, I have a few things to write about, but because I’ve had the flu.  The flu gave me a worse beatdown than running a 60K race.  Although I’ve run only one 60, I was running two days later.  The flu made it hard for me to get out of bed, much less sit in front of a keyboard writing new posts.

That said, I did make it to Weight Watchers for a Sunday weigh-in and lost 1.2 pounds.  I don’t this was due to good food choices or having no appetite at all but I’ll take it.

Since New Year’s Day I’ve lost 4.6 pounds, not a tremendous amount, but little bits add up.

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The Bucket List

It’s February, the weather is cold and the roads are icy.  This winter more than any in recent memory has wreaked havoc with my training plans for spring races.  Winter’s the time to dream and plan—the time of year when research new races, those I’ll run and those dream of running.

Destination races are a chance for new experiences on different courses.  This was after I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2009 - Photo Esther Santiago

Destination races are a chance for new experiences on different courses. This was after I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2009 – Photo Esther Santiago

After much thought, I put a Bucket List together.  Some races are obvious choices—others more obscure and probably influenced by geography— I live in the Northeast.  Check out my list, let me know how many are on your Bucket List.

1-The Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of marathons.  This race run annually on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April since 1897 is the goal of many runners, and caused countless others to daydream about qualifying.  Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about running Boston.  Qualifying for Boston takes more than a dream, it takes hard work to make your Boston Qualifying (BQ) time.  Running the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Copley Square may be the hardest to cross off this list but sometimes you have to dream big.

2-Big Sur International Marathon

The twisting course down Highway 1 from Big Sur to Carmel is a popular destination race.  The breathtaking views of the Pacific Coastline and a grand piano player make up for the fact the course is brutal.  The toughest stretch is the two-mile climb between miles 10-12 known as Hurricane Point. If you are looking for a personal best, this is probably not the race for you but if you are looking to run a course that resembles a picture postcard sign up as soon as registration opens.

3-Marine Corps Marathon

Esther and I enjoyed running the National Marathon in 2010.  Is returning to the DC area to run the Marine Corps Marathon in my future?

Esther and I enjoyed running the National Marathon in 2010. Is returning to the DC area to run the Marine Corps Marathon in my future?

Known as The People’s Marathon the MCM is a favorite among first-time marathoners.  Run on a scenic flat-fast course through Arlington Virginia and Washington D.C. with heavy crowd support.  The Marine presence is everywhere—leading pace teams, manning water stations and handing out encouraging runners. The race course passing many of DC’s monuments and finishing in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial and having a medal placed around your neck by a uniformed marine give this race its patriotic feel.

4-Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon

Named the Best Named Marathon in the country by Runner’s World Magazine, the course goes through downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  Origins of the race’s name vary from Cincinnati once being a porkopolis to I’ll run a marathon when pigs fly.  Great crowd support, many of them wearing pig noses ease the pain of the 350 foot elevation gain from miles 6 to 9 on this brutally hilly course.  What other race has runners being hugged by a winged pig after crossing the Finish Swine?

5-Chicago Marathon

After running the New York City Marathon three times, why would I want to run Chicago?  I’ve never been to the Windy City so it ranks high on my list of destination marathons.  The flat and fast course winding through Greektown, Little Italy, Pileson (Czech) and Chinatown is host to four world records and has been called New York City without the logistical problems.  I know I won’t be setting a world record but is a personal best possible?  Hmmm.

Château Frontenac dominates Quebec City's skyline.  Photo – Quebec  City Tourism/QuebecRegion.com

Château Frontenac dominates Quebec City’s skyline. Photo – Quebec City Tourism/QuebecRegion.com

6-Quebec City Marathon

Another popular destination race, Quebec is as close one can get to Europe while still in North America.  This point-to-point race between Levis and Quebec City is run in conjunction with a half marathon and a 10K race.  Ferries take runners to the start of their respective races. The course run partly on bike paths along the St. Lawrence River is picture postcard material.  This is a great race to plan a long weekend around.  The downside, the course is marked in kilometer not miles.

7-Oceans to Sound Relay

I’ve recommended running this 8-person 50-mile relay run on a scenic course over Long Island’s rolling hills from Jones Beach to Oyster Bay to my teammates as a team-building exercise.  Since running my first ultra last fall, I’ve been thinking of channeling my inner Dean Karnazes and running the course solo.

The start of the Yonkers Marathon - Photo Esther Priegue

The start of the Yonkers Marathon – Photo Esther Priegue

8-Yonkers Marathon 

Yonkers is the second oldest U.S. marathon—after Boston.  Dubbed a marathoner’s marathon by two-time Olympic marathoner John Kelley, the hilly course through Hastings on Hudson and Yonkers cause many to signup for the half.  The challenging hills between miles 4-5 and 20-21 do not make this an ideal course for newbies—nor does the five-hour time limit.  After running the half four times including last year’s personal best of 1:53:43 has me thinking maybe it’s time to try the full.

9-Brooklyn Marathon

How is this small local race on my bucket list?  “Runner’s World Magazine wrote, “The Brooklyn Marathon offers small-time charm that New York’s monster marathon cannot.”   NYC Runs founder and Brooklyn native Steve Lastoe’s dream was to bring Brooklyn its first marathon since 1909.  I’ve always enjoyed racing in Brooklyn, the races have an attitude comparable to the borough that hosts them.  The current Brooklyn Marathon Course is eight loops of Prospect Park but the race’s organizers plan on taking the course onto Brooklyn’s streets—maybe as soon as this year.

10-Empire State Building Run Up

The only race on this list that’s not a road race—it’s a tower race.  This 1576-step vertical challenge replaced the spot the New York City Marathon once held.   Starting in Art Deco lobby the field of 700 winds up the building’s stairwells to the 86th floor observation deck—the view of New York City’s skyline lit up at night more than make up for their burning quads.

That’s my Bucket List.  Let me know what you think.  Use the comments field and post which races you would switch or give me your Bucket List.