Bucket List Races: Running in the USA

bucketlist running domestic

When thinking about my bucket list races for running races, I thought it best to split them up into domestic and abroad categories as there are simply too many races! So without further a do….

1. Boston Marathon-Boston, MA

Boston is where I first learned about endurance sports and how perfectly sane people woke up at 5am to run along the Charles River and called it fun! I ran my first true race there, the Boston Run to Remember, 5 miler. My friend Jenny did the half marathon as a “training run” and I thought that was just insane. Little did I know about myself!

Of course, Boston is a globally recognized event worldwide and I would love to qualify for it one day…ahh one day. Here’s to Heartbreak Hill!

2. Mountain 2 Beach Marathon-Ojai to Ventura, CA

This marathon is ranked #2 of all Boston Qualifiers to most likely qualify you for the big dance. It starts in Ojai, CA and has a negative net altitude gain as it runs from the mountains to the beach. Sweet! I may have a shot at Boston! Bonus: limited to 1500 registrants


3. Rock n Roll Las Vegas-Las Vegas, NV

Run the Strip at night, with all of the lights, drunks and no cars, yes please! What’s even better are your choices for two distances: 13.1 or 26.2. (depends on how much partying your’e planning on doing). While this race had a terrible first year, no medals for a lot of people, people throwing up, and congestion, these issues seem to be resolved and I’ve heard only good things since. Who doesn’t want to run with multiple Elvis’s and see people get hitched while running?!


4. The Krispy Kreme Challenge-Raleigh, NC

The name says it all! In 2004, several NC State guys got together and challenged themselves to running and eating doughnuts at the same time, yup sounds like something college guys would do! I remember knowing some people going to Raleigh to do this race when I was in school at Elon and thought it was a great idea minus the running! Since then, the race has grown exponentially, capping itself at 8,100 people! The Challenge: 5 miles, 1 hour, 12 doughnuts and 2400 calories! Will probably need to “warm up” before hand to truly earn 12 doughnuts! Stop, The Sign is On!


5. BolderBoulder 10k-Boulder, CO

Having earned the title “Best 10k”, BolderBOULDER, is a large 10k, over 50,000 people in fact. Held every year on Memorial Day, this is a favorite race amongst many people due to the energy, long standing tradition and organization. Wave start and you finish in UC-Boulder’s football stadium


6. Big Sur International Marathon-Carmel, CA

Held on the weekend following the Boston Marathon, Big Sur is challenging but has beautiful scenery to take away the pain (hopefully). The ocean is on your left and the mountains on your right. This race always makes lists for best marathons and destination races. I think it would be a great way to see California!

Big Sur

7. TCS New York City Marathon-New York, NY

Iconic, point-to-point race going through all five New York City Burroughs certainly put this race on the domestic bucket list. Similar to the Boston Marathon, NYC gets fully behind this event which was even bigger this year due to Superstorm Sandy’s cancellation in 2012.

NYC marathon

8. Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, MN

Grandma’s is a must-do for most marathoners. Its the 13th largest marathon in the US and has been around since 1977 when a couple of guys wanted a scenic road race. Its grown since 150 people first did Grandma’s into a prominent, nationally recognized road race. Probably the only reason I’ll ever go to Minnesota.

grandmas-marathon-9 Grandmas

9. Marine Corps Marathon-Washington, DC

Running along side strong Marines, check. Given your medal by a handsome Marine, check. History and support for the armed forces, check. The Marine Corps Marathon was in jeopardy this year of not happening when our lovely government was shut down but fortunately, some DC politicians who also are runners, helped get things moving and the race was on as scheduled. Like most large races, the MCM has a lottery to get into but its worth trying for.


10. Charleston Marathon and 1/2 Marathon-Charleston, SC

I’ve always loved Charleston, SC for its history, low-country setting and food. This 4th year race is in January (I love cold running!) and features free shrimp and grits and beer post-race! Its a scenic run that has several distances which makes it easier for friends and family members to get on board as well. Plus, the fees for the race are very reasonable even as you get close to race date.

View of Mile 2.5

View of Mile 2.5

11. Portland Marathon-Portland, OR

With a long standing history of over 40 years, the Portland Marathon has racked up awards such as “Top 10 First Timers Marathon” Runners World and “Best in the NorthWest” by City Sports. It was also one of the first eco-friendly races, something that more and more races are becoming aware of now. Produced with the help of 4500 volunteers in October every year, Portland in the Fall season is supposed to be just spectacular. This race also has a 1/2 marathon, 10k, and kid’s race.

Portland Marathon

12. Bay to Breakers 12k-San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has always been known for its colorful residents and this certainly rings true during the longest-standing continuously ran foot race in the world. This 102 year old race was recently bought by Wasserman Media Group and promises to retain its uniqueness with costumes and party-vibe. Its a point to point 12k that starts by the San Francisco Bay and heads west through the Golden Gate Park to the Great Highway where you reach the ocean. Sounds awesome and scenic (costumes and all).

Bay to Breakers

13. Runner’s World Half and Festival-Bethlehem, PA

This year was the 2nd Annual Runner’s World Half and Festival hosted at their HQ in Bethlehem, PA. From what I heard read, participants loved this race as it was more than just a race but allowed people to learn about running, Runner’s World Magazine and enjoy the community of runners. Hosted by the editors of the popular magazine, you can be sure that the running community was catered to.

Runner's World Half

14. Disney Wine and Dine Half-Orlando, FL

I felt I needed a Disney race on the list as they are popular for a reason despite the hefty price tags that always accompany Disney races. I’ve already done the Princess Half (1st 13.1!) and really don’t want to do the Disney Marathon so I chose the Disney Wine and Dine because it features night time running, food and wine afterwards and coincides with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival which is amazing. When they first announced this race, I really didn’t get the idea of running at night to have food afterwards because I never used to eat after running, now the story is a little different. Cheers!

Main Street features "snow" for us Floridians

Main Street features “snow” for us Floridians

15. Harpoon Fest and Shipyard Old Port Half-Boston, MA and Portland, ME

When I first met my long time friends from Boston, they were just returning from a run hosted by Harpoon Brewery and were getting ready to go back for the festival, which I enjoyed with them. It was certainly an interesting concept at the time but one that I couldn’t wrap my head around at that time. Well Northeastern-ers know what makes a good event! Running and Beer! Harpoon Brewery in Boston and Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine both host running events with a great after party. Harpoon hosts several running events throughout the year including one for Oktoberfest while Shipyard is the title sponsor for the Old Port Half Marathon in July.

This was a hard list to narrow down to just 15 events as there are so many races to choose from! Now I want to know, what makes your Bucket List?!


Baby Got Back-Or Needs To!

While perusing Facebook today, like every other day, I came across an article on Triathlon.com that featured a picture of Miranda “Rinny” Carfrae. Rinny recently won the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI by having one of the most stellar marathon performances ever. She came from behind and passed some of the world’s best athletes to take the title for her second time, breaking her own run course record by laying down a 2:50:38 marathon time.


I always pay attention to an article if Rinny is the example they’re using because clearly she’s doing something right! I watched her run towards 1st place as Ironman streamed the race this year and just watched in awe and amazement at her effortless stride and strong posture. I think this year’s race placed more attention on her race than it did the men’s race which is very nice to see.


Source: Triathlon.com

Anyways, back to the original topic, the Triathlon.com article “The Glutes: Your Biggest Asset” provided some valuable insight on my lingering issues. Since I’m sidelined right now with plantar fascitiis and achilles tendinitis, I can only dream and think about running but I’m in the weight room lifting and building strength back up just no cardio right now. As I read the article I came across the factoid that weakness in the gluteus maximus or your butt, can lead to the issues I’ve been dealing with! Now, I’ve known that having a strong core and glute muscles are important to athletic success but it hadn’t really crossed my mind as to a major stemming factor of my current situation.


Source: Outside Online

“With weak glutes comes the threat of running’s most common injuries — everything from IT band syndrome to plantar fasciitis can be linked back to the butt.”-Bryan Hill, physical therapist 

Hmm, IT band troubles-check, plantar fasciitis-check.

The article provided a quick test to see if your glutes are in fact weak.

Do this: a single-leg squat as low as you can go. If you can reach an angle of 80 degrees or more (90-degree knee flexion is optimal, says Hill), you’re likely efficient at loading your glute properly while running.

So of course I immediately got up of my chair that I sit in way too much and tried both legs. Not only did both legs really burn from the exertion but if I could guess my knee flexion I would say about 75-80 degrees…not good!

When I was doing CrossFit, we rarely had to do pistols but when we did I could never do them. A pistol movement is a one leg squat with the free leg stuck out in front of you. Those things are damn hard to do but I understand why their important to incorporate.

I can't do them on the floor let alone a kettle ball handle!

I can’t do them on the floor let alone a kettle ball handle!

Since I’m not running and focusing on rehabbing on my own, I’m going to add in a lot of glute and hamstring work so that come the new year, I’ll be stronger and more flexible and hopefully eliminate or at least ease a lot of pain and tenderness as well as get my body more symmetric.

Next week I go back for my check up with my doctor. I don’t think anything will be discovered nor do I think we’ll need to do any further testing. I’m expecting him to say I can start jogging again by walking a block, jogging a block and building up very slowly. I’m going to hop on the bike trainer this weekend for no more than 20 minutes to see how things feel. I also want to get in the pool and swim some to get some cardio but will avoid pushing off the wall so I don’t add stress to the achilles.

I’ve been not running for 3 weeks and by next week’s appointment it will be 4. In a Runner’s World magazine issue from this month, the Ask the Experts column explained that you should expect your body to take at least 3 weeks to regain your fitness when you’ve been injured or sick for 3 weeks. So that’s what I expect 3-4 weeks to probably feeling 80% and then on from there.

I’m still registered for the Donna Marathon but clearly the 26.2 isn’t happening in February but I’m seeing if I can do the half now but the main priority is being healthy entering the 2014 triathlon season as my date to officially begin training for IMLP looms closer and closer.

One final note semi-related to all of this (because he provided me 50% of his genes) is that today is my dad’s birthday and wanted to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Dad and I on his birthday at the Orlando Magic, DeVos graduation ceremony 2010

Dad and I on his birthday at the Orlando Magic, DeVos graduation ceremony 2010

PS Can’t believe its been 3 years since my graduate class crossed the new Amway Center’s basketball court at half time to be honored for our graduation. Craziness!

PPS The director of my graduate program, the DeVos Sport Management Program at UCF, Dr. Richard Lapchick, wrote a wonderful article for ESPN.com on Nelson Mandela’s significance in sports and racism. The two were friends and so it was sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Mandela yesterday. Click here to read the article

RIP Nelson Mandela


Dr. Richard Lapchick and I at the 2010 Central Florida Sports Commission Event

Dr. Richard Lapchick and I at the 2010 Central Florida Sports Commission Event

Exercises for strengthening the glutes as posted by Runner’s World:








Three Weeks to Health and Strength

Back from the doctors and the news isn’t awful, it definitely could always be worse. They took x-rays (I always like to see these and check them out!) and everything came back clean. Phew!

I was told I have severe tendinitis. I knew I had tendinitis most of this running season but now its just progressed beyond the point of managing on my own which is why I’m feeling pain in all of my calf and lower leg.

So here’s the game plan to off-season success:

1. No running for 3 weeks. While I’m not happy about this I expected it. My legs need time to heal and then need the proper base again to start running. I am allowed to bike and swim though I’m going to give biking a little more time as I have such poor circulation already that biking exacerbates it.

2. Stretching 2-3 times a day especially after a shower or hot tub. Also, massages! 

3. Anti-inflammatories. Trying to avoid the shots since I’m young and don’t want to start down this path yet.

4. Finally, I’ll be sleeping with someone other than Memphis (hope he doesn’t get jealous). Yup, I’ll be wearing a boot to bed. It keeps your foot in a flexed position which right now is totally uncomfortable. This should be interesting!

I think the boot needs a name, something fun, let me know your suggestions. It may need some stickers to brighten it up as well.

photo (49)

How this impacts the rest of my off-season is still TBD. I go back to the doc’s in 3 weeks. Should things be better by then, I will then be allowed to gradually, G-R-A-D-U-A-L-L-Y start running again. Yes, I’m spelling it out for myself, not because I don’t think you all can’t read.

I most likely won’t be doing a full marathon after all before Ironman Lake Placid but I’m fine with that. If anything, I want to do the half mary there and support the cause. The end goal and most important thing is to enter triathlon season healthy with a strong base of fitness and health so maybe this is a blessing in disguise? I’ve got big things planned for 2014 so I’m focusing on finishing 2013 healthy and strong.

The past couple of days, I’ve gotten a ton of comments on my blog post: The Importance of Rev3 Triathlon and Why I want to be a Team Rev3 Member. Current members have commented and Team Rev3 Facebook even shared my blog on their Facebook page. Makes today’s prognosis a little easier 🙂

Team Rev3