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@erowings

Divide, CO Raving since 2016 Abundant Health Unlimited active 2 years, 10 months ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:
  • Race that's calling my name:

    The Boston Marathon

  • I run because:

    Now that I have built my two-year physiological base back up running has given me everything in life that I gratefully receive.  A clear mind, a fitness-related business, health, happiness, and a way to see the beautiful place I live more than ever.  I have loved to hike for decades, and now practice what I call “nature hikes in fast motion.”

    I hope to be reviewing Boston in April 2017; I was sub 3:48 of the time needed, and I’m hopeful that’s good enough to get me in.

My races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (2)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Bellvue, CO May 1, 2016 3:36:12
Half Marathon Frenchtown, MT Jul 10, 2016 2:00:18

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (6)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Frenchtown, MT Jul 9, 2017 3:51:43
Marathon Hopkinton, MA Apr 17, 2017 3:45:37
Marathon Manitou Springs, CO Aug 20, 2016 6:51:31
Half Marathon Frenchtown, MT Jul 10, 2016 2:00:18
Marathon Bellvue, CO May 1, 2016 3:36:12
Marathon Los Angeles, CA Mar 15, 2015 3:39:59

My Raves

First things first: I love Missoula! I ran a half-marathon in Missoula in 2013, which was only the second timed race of my life with bib numbers, and the experience … MORE

First things first: I love Missoula! I ran a half-marathon in Missoula in 2013, which was only the second timed race of my life with bib numbers, and the experience back then hooked me on endurance running.

I ran the Missoula full marathon one time before, in 2014, and am happy to say that I ran a then-personal best time of 3:37:38, good enough to qualify for Boston in my age group. I didn’t take the opportunity to run Boston the following year in 2015, and in retrospect I wish I had. Read my previous race rave for how it went in 2017 for insight as to why. I won’t bore you with it here, and I just want to touch briefly on this race itself validating for me that I’m slowing down a little as I get older 🙁 I went out with the intention of testing my fitness level after a fairly slow result in Boston, and ended up with an even slower result in Missoula. But I want to make this about Missoula, not myself, so here goes:

Missoula is the perfect first full-marathon, in my humble opinion. I did run it as my second in 2014, but if you’re reading this and trying to decide whether to enter next year my advice is GO FOR IT! You have one real uphill beginning right at the Mile 13 marker, and once you’re up there you are in the shade of a riot of beautiful pines, rolling up and down a bit until you head down a fast hill before an aid station a couple of miles later. Other than that it is as advertised: flat and fast.

But that’s not all. Missoula is a college town accessible by I-90, the last town of any real size heading west on your way to the skinny part of Idaho, and there is a unique flavor to the general friendliness of the townfolk, very many of whom populate the expo and the race courses to volunteer for what I have to believe is becoming their town’s signature annual event. The support is nothing short of superb, and for a small city the amount of spectators that come out for the racers is heartening.

I was asked by my adult daughter this year if I’d like to volunteer at the expo the day before the race this year, and I had so much fun that I will most likely do it every year going forward. They put the two of us on the chip verification table, helping folks wave their bibs over a reader and check their own data on PC monitors. I come to this race from 1,000 miles away from Colorado, and though I knew that most of the United States and a lot of the rest of the world have entrants it was a blast meeting so many of them. I even met a guy from my mother’s home town in Ohio!

Every year the shuttles to the start get more and more organized – they now have a shuttle running from the finish area downtown to the university where racer’s are required to park, adding to the convenience.

Besides the scenery, the people, the relative smoothness of the course, et al, there is also a feature that I believe is completely unique to American marathons: the piano guy. A local professional musician dresses up in tux and tails every year, wheels a grand piano out onto his lawn along the course at about the 16th mile, and plays for the runners as they go by. He’s very good, too! I put a tip in a snack baggie this year, and wrapped it around a dog fetch ball with a rope tied through the holes to toss to him, and because I left him a note he replied thanking me, too. This is a tradition I’d love to see at least a few other people pick up and help me get started – the first time you’ll see him I think you’ll understand why I am compelled to show my appreciation.

Then there’s the Higgins Street Bridge, which is the very last stretch to the finish line just before Front Street. The locals line the bridge on both sides, cheering their hearts out for everybody.

I Love Missoula! Even after Boston, this is still my favorite race. Try it and see for yourself.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
My Media

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

Well, first of all, it's Boston! The oldest continuous annual marathon in the world, since 1897, they even ran when the Olympics committee shut down the games during World War … MORE

Well, first of all, it’s Boston! The oldest continuous annual marathon in the world, since 1897, they even ran when the Olympics committee shut down the games during World War II. So, it’s a huge hairy freaking deal, coupled with the fact that as you look around you at the expo, on the streets, and in the subway at all the people sporting their new race gear you drink in the fact that, excepting the charity fund raising entries, you are all there because you had to qualify. So it’s an honor and a privilege just to be there, and the lead-up festivities that occur pre-race all feel like it’s all for you if you’re lucky enough to be there.

My race itself was an eye-opening and somewhat disappointing experience, but I want to focus on the positives. I went out with a specific pace in mind and maintained it easily for the first 15 miles, but Newton will absolutely slap you down if you think you can run faster than your fitness level. Trust me. Suffice it to say that I did not finish at a re-qualifying time, but I did find 4th gear on Boylston Street to the finish and passed a few folks the last 0.2, anyway. But this is about me, and I really want to focus on reviewing the race itself.

They tell you not to wear earbuds for this one, so you can enjoy the spectator participation, and those people are absolutely right. Every small town you pass through in the first half had a town center with massive crowds cheering their lungs out, and it was frankly kind of unbelievable.

Experiencing “Scream Alley” at Wellesley College near Mile 13 in person was very cool as well. I did run near the barricade and do a bunch of high fives, though I confess I was concerned about my time enough that I didn’t stop for any kisses.

The last of the Newton Hills (which severly increased my average pace by that point) is of course the infamous Heartbreak Hill, and I remember working on my own mind, telling myself it was the last one, keep moving those feet at a race pace, etc. When I got to the top I did a kind of “show-offy” thing: I felt a release of the pent-up frustration of the arduous climb as I crested the top in the middle of an intersection (which is near Boston College), and I raised both hands up in the air and let out a shout. I’ll never forget the crowd answering it! As beat up as I was by then I smiled – just couldn’t help it.

Then of course you are running into Brookline and Boston itself, and the crowds on the street are continuous and raucous. I’ve been wondering how to feel about my performance, and putting off this report for some time, but now I clearly recall feeling that I was never going to forget the spectator experience. Writing this brings it all back, and it was amazing.

In closing, my word of advice to you is DO NOT GO OUT FAST! This is one race that will slap you down like a freckle-faced stepchild for taking it anything less than fully seriously, but you’ll enjoy the experience more if you go out without expectations. Of course, this is coming from a middle-aged latter-day runner, your fitness level may be off the charts compared to mine.

If you get the opportunity, go for it!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
My Media

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

I daydreamed about doing this up and back down the mountain marathon for years, even back when I wasn't a runner, and getting it done for the first time was … MORE

I daydreamed about doing this up and back down the mountain marathon for years, even back when I wasn’t a runner, and getting it done for the first time was AWESOME! The slogan for the race on their website is America’s Ultimate Challenge, and though an argument can be made that there are many grueling and brutal ultras out there that are harder, that completing this race is no joke. The camaraderie amongst fellow runners was excellent, on the way up in particular, and I now see clearly why so many folks come back again and again to repeat it. There’s a certain element of esprit de corps involved with such a ridiculously uphill endeavor.

I have much love and respect for all of the aid station and Search and Rescue volunteers at various elevations and remote locations on the way. It is truly a testament to organization and the volunteer spirit of the local running community.

This may always be, for the rest of my life, the most beautiful race I ever participate in. If you’ve done it yourself you know what I mean. 10 stars for scenery.

Word of warning to the future participant: I trained on steeply vertical trails for over 3 months to get this done – your own experience may be dramatically different if you do not have the kind of elevation or hills available to you where you’re from. Having said that, I met people from all over the country including sea level, so I know it’s possible.

I’d love to share my lengthy blog article (so long in fact that I needed to do it in three chapters) about this run with you, and invite you to click and leave a comment, too. It’s over 5,000 words, so I kept this as brief as possible for that reason. I did drop a link to it into this review someplace…

Oh, and when you get to the end there’s two really good pizza joints within a couple hundred yards of the finish line. Yes!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

This was my first half-marathon distance race in 2013, and I've been coming back every year since. Of course, it helps that my daughter and granddaughter both live there! I … MORE

This was my first half-marathon distance race in 2013, and I’ve been coming back every year since. Of course, it helps that my daughter and granddaughter both live there! I ran the half distance 3 years, and the full from Frenchtown in 2014, and in all cases the support and crowd participation are both incredible. “Marathon weekend” in July is something I look forward to now as much as any other holiday during my year.

I particularly enjoyed this race because I paced my daughter for the first time this year, and running through her hometown with her was pretty special. That explains the 3 rating on my performance 😉

If I could say one thing here as a suggestion to the race folks: my kid absolutely hates the orange shirts, and you’ve done them in ’14 and ’16 now. I like them, but it might be time for a change.

The elevation profile of this race makes it an ideal place to PR, and in fact I did in the full in ’14 and the half in ’15. I recommend this race to anyone looking for a first race to run; the natives are friendly and the organization is top-shelf.

See you next year!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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This race was almost my first full marathon, in 2014, and I was back two years later for a couple of reasons. I really wanted to break 3:30, which has … MORE

This race was almost my first full marathon, in 2014, and I was back two years later for a couple of reasons. I really wanted to break 3:30, which has been a daydream goal since that first time out, and I wanted to improve on my time in 2014 as well. Kind of like going back for my revenge, or something.

After having built a base for three plus years I learned something new about this course that I didn’t know two years ago; all that downhill in the first 17 miles really doesn’t do you all that big a favor. The day ended up cold and snowing, which was outside of the race’s control, but between that and my effort to pace the first half caused me a lot of pain that I gritted my teeth through in the last 6 miles.

The race is not really well attended by the townsfolk except in one or two places, if you care about that sort of thing. And one thing I found odd was being handed my medal suddenly when I was just a few steps past the finish line; I almost missed the handoff. Maybe this is a small picky point, but I’ve been lucky enough to have it draped over my head almost every other time previously, so it struck me as a little odd and unfriendly.

I will say the Cache La Poudre river canyon is way beautiful, and if you love pretty scenery while exercising you can’t beat the first 16 miles of this race.

I wrote a lengthy race report on this one, if you’re interested in the full story. Thanks!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

What I liked: Tons of volunteers at well-spaced aid stations. This is the biggest race I've ever done, with over 20,000 people, and they were ready for it. Also, you … MORE

What I liked: Tons of volunteers at well-spaced aid stations. This is the biggest race I’ve ever done, with over 20,000 people, and they were ready for it. Also, you got a tour of stuff people come from all over the world to see for the price of your entry (which was, incidentally, quite high). Everything from downtown to Hollywood to Rodeo Dr to the Santa Monica Beach, and all sorts of cool stuff in between.

What I didn’t like: I had no appreciation before I got there for how brutal this course is. You need to be a strong hill runner, and if you’re a first time marathoner I advise you to be serene with the idea that this is not going to be a good day to set a personal record.

Also, I really thought I could run in the heat until I did this one. It was 86 freaking degrees in the last week of winter at the finish line, and I was sucking air after pushing myself to finish as strong as possible.

I did get one of my coolest race shirts from this race, so there’s that. Oh, and I forgot that there was all kinds of entertainment on the course, too. If you’re curious at all I’d do it once; after my year they did move it a month back to February.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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