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Goodbye Miami Marathon!!!

So I think it’s official, I am pulling out of the Miami Marathon.  The original plan was to run with Marathon with Jeff, JE, Beth, Mandy, one of Jessica’s friends from the Midwest, and anyone else in the Brandon  group that is shooting for a 3:30-3:35 marathon.    Knowing that I wasn’t going to go out and hammer the race I became LAZY with my training (maybe a good week I would get 8 miles in).    

 But everything changes yesterday morning when a friend posted on FB that he entered the NYC Marathon lottery… so I tossed my name in also.  Its only $11… what have I got to lose…  within hours people started pointing out how they have qualified for a guaranteed entry!  I want a guaranteed entrée!!! I just have to take my 8 minutes off my half PR with 27 days left to go and almost no training since the Marine Corps Marathon.

 So I sent in my bid to downgrade to the half at Miami and make that my race to qualify before the Jan 31st deadline…  I will keep you updated when its approved.

 Let’s see if I can make this happen so I can run NYC this year!!!


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Ohh the weather outside is frightful… and the speeding cars are so delightful…

Picture this… I am up in Michigan in a small town that doesn’t even have stop lights in their downtown district and within a half mile from being downtown I am off in Farmland.  Its dark (10:00pm) and somewhere in the 20s (way too cold for a Florida boy) and I decide to go out for a run… 

I am sure the ones that know me outside the blog will shrug this off as another crazy run, where Mr. Lazy Runner will go run and not think about safety, but this time I decided to play the safe card and I bought a headlamp to wear! (I didn’t know the area, the moon wasn’t out, all the roads are dark, and to top it off all my cold weather gear is BLACK…. And come to think of it, I think I already lost the headlamp somewhere)

 So the run begins with me trudging through the dark off in lala land thinking about the last year and the Christmas party I was at and all the other things that runners think about to keep their mind off the freezing cold wind.  As cars drive by I made sure to shine my headlamp right into their eyes, even if they were heading the opposite direction.   I have a head lamp and the roads are dark.. I don’t care where you’re at, I want you to see me!  (It’s about safety and not narcissism). 

 About 1.5 miles away from my starting location I am running down a dark country road (speed limit 55mph) and 2 cars show up over the next hill flying toward my direction.   The first car acted like every other car that has driven by me before this point.   He slowly pulls into the other lane giving me 10 feet of space, the second car behind him does the opposite… 

 The next car drives right into the gravel where I am running.  Most sane runners would probably dive into the ditch or over the ditch to spare their lives… I on the other hand yell some profanity and make a calculated sidestep out of the way before the car plows my legs over, while swinging my fist with everything I have.  It’s a good thing I didn’t I didn’t connect with the car because I probably would have shattered everything in my fist (and I also realized why I can never hit the 60mph ball in the batting cages).   A second later the car slams on their brakes and the first thing I can think of its some stupid teenagers that are turning around to dick with me and either try to fight me or run me over again.   I lower to the ground while screaming a few more choice words and pick up a handful of rocks that I am about to use to pepper their windshield.   And then a lady pulls up and rolls down the window. 

“ I thought I hit you,” she said.

“Well you didn’t, but you got F’nn close,”  I snipped back.

Then she tried to defend herself by saying she almost hit another runner at 2am that was running in the road the same way… (that’s her defense… really)  I asked her if they also had a headlamp and she said yes.    It took everything in my body not to throw the rocks and pepper her car and then take off into the corn fields where no one could ever catch me… but I told her that she needs to be more careful and watch out in the road before she kills someone (and I thought I wasn’t going to have an issue because I bought a super bright headlamp this time).

 My next few miles of my run flew by as I was using up the excess adrenaline pumping through my veins and battling the cold wind in my face.

 After turning around I started to realize that the cold weather… was starting to feel really cold.  I thought I dressed for the temp but I didn’t dress for the cold wind that blew  through the farm fields.  Around 4 miles into my 7 mile run I started to feel that something just wasn’t right…  you know those feelings that your body is off because of the weather or that something was different.  I had to stop and figure it out.  Let’s just say that one of the hit songs right now is LMAFO’s “Sexy and you know it” and he has a line in there about “Passion in his pants” well… whatever the opposite of Passion… that’s what I was experiencing as I shinned the light down checking to make sure everything was alright.   I looked down in horror at the “Lost Boys” thinking that this shrinkage was worse than jumping in the ice tanks after every workout in college.  The water there was in the 40s… but the temp here without the wind chill factored in was in the 20s.  It showed as I freaked out.  

 I don’t know how you cold weather athletes do this all the time…  its cold outside and it affects parts of your body that shouldn’t be affected when your training…. So how do you guys deal with the cold weather?

 Anyway…  the rest of the run was uneventful and all the rest of the cars gave me plenty of room…. The second I got back to Jenny’s parents house I hopped straight into the shower and warmed myself back up before enjoying a glass of wine! 

 Stay tuned for my second Michigan run….  (so glad to be back in FL now).


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Hot vs Cold

BRRRRRR..... This will be me this weekend


 I have to ask you all out there, how do you deal with running in the cold 2-6 months out of the year?  I am only asking because I am up to Michigan tonight and the highs are in the 20-30s.   As a Florida boy I can run easily when its 99 and I actually enjoy it!  Except on track days…  and the end of a LR, and the…  whatever I enjoy the heat!  (its 72 in my office right now and I am wearing my MCM jacket).

 But what would you choose?  To run in the cold or run somewhere its nice and warm?

Or a good run in FL (no this is not me...)



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The Great Car Sticker Debate

Now that I have finally hit my marathon goal (took me 3 marathons, but if you have been following my blog can I count the first 2?) the debate now becomes to get a 26.2 sticker or not…  But as I think more about it, why not get a 3.1 sticker.  It’s my favorite race.  I am proud of my times there.  I have more hope for a higher place in a 5K than in a Marathon.  



I fully understand that there is a great debate that goes on with this, but I don’t understand why it’s only acceptable to put higher distance races on the back of your vehicle.  Is running a 5K not an accomplishment?  Is running a 5K looked down upon in the running community when it comes to car stickers? 

 What’s your thoughts on having a 26.2 sticker on the back of a car?

 What would you think of a person that had a 3.1 Sticker on the back of their car.   Would you automatically think it was for a 5K or would you think it would be for something else?


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2011 Marine Corps Marathon DEBRIEFING



 February 23rd 2011 – 249 days till M Day

  • It’s a volunteer Army and orders officially come in.  30,000 spots fill up in 28 hours. 
  • Deployment Location – Washington DC.
  • Combat Mission – Take the hill at Iwo Jima (Marine Corps Memorial)
  • Personal Mission – Qualify for Boston

July 21st  – 101 days till M Day

A the track with my buddy Sean and he is excited about a Half Iron Man that he is training for, I asked him when it was and he mentioned it was the last weekend of Oct….  Crap I didn’t realize how close the race was.  Time to start training

October 28th – 2:30pm – 20 hours 30 minutes till M-Day

I run into Red, Dorcas, and Melody at the Expo!  So excited to see them all!  Getting nervous, the expo is a runners candy store, but the reality of the race is starting to kick in.  I haven’t had a chance to race since doing a 5K midsummer and now I am jumping straight into a marathon. 

October 29th – 8:00 am – 24 hours till M-Day

I stayed the night at my mom’s house 30 min outside DC and I wake up to 2 inches of snow on the ground and the snow is still coming down.  I DIDN’T PREPARE FOR THIS.  Its October not January! 

3:00pm – 17 hours till M-Day

Head into DC…  It’s raining, but the rain turns into snow and it snows for a good 5 hours.  Not liking this one bit as I look down and I am wearing my flip flops and one of my heaviest coats (a pullover fleece).  Later that night right before I go to bed I realize that the water bottle somehow opened up and emptied out into my entire bag!   Everything is soaking wet, even the gear I need for tomorrow.  Oh well…  hope it dries while I am asleep.

6:00am – 2 hours till M-Day

I get dropped off with the crew right outside the Pentagon and we all start walking over towards the start line. Its dark and we are freezing cold. (it was under 32 degrees, I am not just saying that because I am from Florida and I think anything under 70 degrees is freaking cold).

7:00 am – 1 hour till M-Day

I say my goodbyes to the group and Jessica laughed one last time and asked if I wanted to run with her again…  “Nope, I am sticking with my plan” as she takes off with her friend Chaung.  I slowly make my way over to the pace group while I mentally go over the race in my head over and over.  None of us in the group really say a word before the race starts.  I don’t know if it was because it was cold or we just all knew that were about to give everything we got during the next few hours.   The only thing that I did outside of some light stretching was made a few stops by the bushes/trees.  I didn’t make the mistake this time like I did last with starting the race dehydrated and then ending up in an ambulance again

Invasion of Rosslyn – Miles 1-3

The MV-22’s fly over head and National Anthem is played…  Its finally time and the gun goes off.  I place myself in the back of the pace group, so I am one of the last ones that goes across the mat.  You never know.  I might need that additional second or two later on in the race.  The start was packed as hell and we had to maneuver our way around tons of people.  You would have thought that being this close to the beginning of the race we wouldn’t have that problem, but I was wrong.  Our Gunny Sergeant (Cliff Bar Pacer – It’s the Marine Corps Marathon so I am having fun with this) held the 3:05 banner high during the first mile and our platoon grouped up around him tight.   These first few miles flew bye I don’t even remember how tough the hill was at mile 2.  But I do remember as soon as we crested the hill we started to pick up the pace a little bit to make up for the slower start and all of us laboring up the hill. 

Hold the Canal – Miles 4 – 8

Right after the 5K marker I looked down at my Garmin and the pace average for this mile was 6:09, but we were all going downhill for a good click so it was expected.  (I was so happy that during my training cycle I had a few long runs where the pace was dropped down in the low 6s.  but it was still faster than I wanted to fly this early at the race.)   Once we finally got to the bottom of the road and down parallel to the C&O Canal the over hydration kicked in and I had to make a pit stop.  The second I stopped my Garmin beeped at me “AUTO PAUSE”  FRACKING A, I wanted to yell at Swift for changing that over my Garmin (I still can’t figure out how to turn it off) but there is nothing I can do now…  I slowly made my way back up to the group and settled back in right after we crossed one of the bridges that was still frozen over (I am sure some people at it later because it was super slick).  At this point of the race most of us started talking a little bit to get to know everyone in the platoon.   Gunny goes around and ask most of us what our goals were and why we chose MCM.  So it was a great few miles (except the hill before Georgetown).

Set up Positions on the Point – Miles 8-15

It’s amazing I was so close to the monuments, and I didn’t see a single one.  All that mattered and all I focused on was sticking with the platoon and with Gunny…  The miles started flying by, I am not going to say they were easy because I still felt the lactic acid building up from our pace, but it was a controlled and predictable pain.  Except for somewhere around mile 10 my left calf hardened up and turned into a rock.  I got so pissed at it.  I trained to hard for this I thought, I never had this challenge in training!  The emotional burn of having to join the Boston Club literally overtook the pain of the cramp in my calf and it worked itself out within a half mile.  I can’t let anything stop me this early in the race, or at any point PERIOD!

One thing that did start to get weird is that my Garmin and everyone else’s Garmins started to not match up with the mile markers during the race.   I am super happy with Gunny!  He kept us above pace the whole time, and he did it on purpose.  He said that the mile markers are set up if you hug every single curve but no one except the elites do that.  And because of that we needed to go just a tad quicker than we all expected so that way we all hit our time of 3:05 or under.   (So we all ended up running 26.55-26.6 miles) 

Hold the Capital at all Cost  – Miles 16-18

These miles went by fast, but they hurt.  The pace was kicking in and my legs were burning.  The little guy on my left shoulder started to not only voice his opinion but yell it into my ears.  I started to doubt the game plan that was set and negotiate with myself.  This hurts, I just need to stay with the pacer for a few more miles… I don’t have it in me to make the move, you don’t have the energy.  If you do… you won’t make it to the finish or at least you won’t make it to Club BQ.  But right as soon as I hit the mile 18 banner (not when 18 beeped on my Garmin) didn’t say any goodbyes to the group, I just mentally locked down on the mission and I made the Move of a Champion.  I started to pick up the pace just as planned.

Push Them Back – Miles 19-21

The PACE HURT I dropped it down to 6:50 and then to 6:45 and locked my body onto this pace.   I was so in the zone that I almost missed my friends on the side with their sign “BEN RUNS SO HE CAN WEAR SHORT SHORTS” (there is a story behind this one…  Gotta love stupid people that say something to you in the grocery store)  I actually didn’t even see the sign or hear them the entire time during the race (even though they said they were screaming my name) I tossed off my cap and gloves and kept going.  Not less than a minute later I started to regret that idea since it was still in the 30s…  but there was no looking back.

Beat the Bridge – Miles 21-23

I will have to say that the bridge is one of the most demoralizing places in this race.  Its almost 2 solid miles of boring concrete and you see runners around you breaking down from the pain.  I painfully held the best pace that I could a 6:55, but I kept picking people off like crazy.  Anytime there was an uphill I hid behind a runner to help recover and as soon as it straightened out or went downhill I locked back into my pace and tracked them down 1 by 1.  Right near the end of the bridge I noticed a purple shirt up ahead and realized that it was Speedy Jessica, I passed her right before we got off the bridge.  All I could do was grunt and she responded with “you’re looking good, keep going” and I could do was just grunt back.

Red is getting ready for the handoff

Right after mile 22 I saw some crazy girl in the middle of the road up ahead and realized it was my resupply station with Sergeant Red.  She tried to give me all my stuff but the only thing I grabbed was the sports bottle.  I don’t remember what went through my head but Instead of using one hand to pull the cap up I used my teeth and ripped the entire thing off like I was pulling the pin of a grenade (I was just trying to pop open the top not rip it off snapping part of the plastic top.    I took a few sips and tossed it aside.   Shortly after that I hit the Crystal City turnaround and lost all momentum.  I came around and then passed Red again groaning in solid pain as I picked up a package of 2nd Surge.

At this point I started to freak out that it just might not happen… I might not hit my time.  My pace was starting to slow and there wasn’t any more gears left that I could drop into.   Right before mile 24 there was the second to last water station.   I stopped because I didn’t think that I could run drink at this point and almost collapsed because my legs just about gave out.  The marines yelled at me to keep moving (I don’t even remember if I got water there or not).  But I kept moving

Running Through a Minefield – Miles 24-26

I thought before the race started I was still going to be strong and drop my pace down to a 6:30… but at this point there was nothing left, when they talk about running being a mental sport, this is the first race in my life that I can say that it truly is.   My paces was blowing up, my legs were completely toasted and nothing left in the tanks, I was watching my buffer disappear quickly I just kept telling myself to make it to the tree, make it to the sign, make it to the turn, make it to that spectator, make it to that marine.   I didn’t want to give up… I wanted to stop.  I couldn’t feel my arms anymore they went numb and the legs were burning hotter than any race before.  But I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t quit, somehow I was still catching people and passing them (but that’s probably because this race tore through them also).  It was at this point totally in my mind.  Mind over body they call it…  Everything said quit but I practiced this race thousands of time in my mind prior to this day, and all that started to kick in.  Move your legs, the people supporting you are counting on you, Move your legs people that donated to the charity are counting on you, Move your legs that Marines/Soldiers you passed that no longer has sight, legs, arms is counting on you.  If they can complete this race you can’t just give it your, you have to give it your all.  Just keep going till the next spectator and then the next, and then to that sign.

Finally a great photo from Marathon Foto

 Iwo Jima – Miles 26-26.2

The only people mental enough to stick a hill at the end of the marathon would be the Marines.  It was a battle just to get up and I caught the last person that tried to break away from the 3:05 pace group on the climb.  I crossed the finish line and started to stumble as my legs were giving way into a pile of marines.  They caught me and passed me off the medical personnel as I tried to mumble that I was fine.    They guy was nice enough to almost carry me over to the medal area one of the Marines put a medal around my head. 

 It was done, the race was over! I ran a 3:03:51 and earned my place to run Boston in 2013.  (Took some major time off my last Marathon PR of 3:26:16)

Big thank you to all the great people that helped me along the journey.  Running a marathon might look like solo event, but in truth you can’t complete your journey without a TON of people out there supporting you through it.

If you would like to make any last minute donations to Support US Armed Forces please follow this link:  Our Mission is still not done and we defiantly Never Forget Who We Are Running For


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4 days till MCM 2011

It’s here and I can’t believe it (I wish I had another month to put in more training).  But the big day is only a few days away.    It’s crazy to look back and see how much work has gone into this one (at least compared to the last 2 years).

 But let’s recap… 

 2009: I started the year with NO DESIRE to run a marathon! (But running MCM was on my bucket list… but not till after 30)  Then some cute girl hit me up and convinced me to run it… (as you can tell I was a sucker and signed up)  2-3 weeks after she convinced me to go run a marathon…  SHE WENT AND GOT A BOYFRIEND… dang-it.  

 Fast-forward a few months (of not training) and I meet this Redhead (She just got engaged!!!  Congrats!!!) through a mutual friend Capt C.  I don’t remember how we meet or how we first started running together but she became my training partner (poor girl).  Up until that point she was a very boring runner, she is going to hate me for saying that, I taught her to spice up the runs and make it one hell of an adventure (boring running is… boring).    Looking back all I trained for this races was 3-4 runs a Month!!  Yes I said a month.   The only time I would go running, is if I ran with Red

 Here are some pics to show a quick recap!  I ran with the Lockheed Martin F-35B Marine Corps Team!

 2010:  “Don’t worry… I am going to smoke this race and qualify for Boston no problem, I have put in the work this year”  – I said that to everyone.

 Let’s take a look at what really happened.  Training was way more hardcore than last year!  20-25 miles a week the whole training cycle… until the week before I upped it to 60 miles.  At the start of the race, my game plan was to run with the 3:10 pace leader the whole way and qualify for Boston, but that plan blew up 3 min from the gun going off.  I ran into one of my running friends and she asked me to run with her.  I am not going to recap everything that went wrong… if you want to read about it click HERE, but by mile 8 lets just say we were almost 7 minutes ahead of my goal pace…  By mile 16 I knew this race was going to be horrible, and by the time I finished with a 3:26 I ended up in the back of an ambulance. 

 Here are some great pics to capture the race!!

Don't Stop - Thats what she said

So now with 5 days left… the question to myself… Am I ready? Can I stay on pace to BQ (Boston Qualify – under a 3:04:59)?  Have I put in enough work to accomplish my goal? 

Update:  I know I started this WAY LAST MINUTE!!!(I didn’t sign up to race with a charity, I chose one last week to support because I fully believe in the cause!!!)  Please help me bring some additional joy to Special Operation Soldier’s children this Christmas!  We are raising funds to support these kids while their parents are stationed overseas.    

Click here to donate!!!:

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Please help me by supporting our Special Forces Children this Christmas

Dear Blog Readers,

In 9 days I am about to partake in the Marine Corps Marathon in and around Washington DC.  It will be 26.2 mile journey throughout our historic nations capital surrounded by Real American Hero’s (the Marines I hear have 2 options…. Work it or run it).  I am reaching out to you to see if you can partake in the this journey with me.  I have trained for months and put in 100s Miles (and a 6 pairs of running shoes worth of running) in training for one reason. To run this race and support our nation’s Heros that have made so many sacrifices to support us.

Looking forward to taking the hill at the Marine Corps Memorial this year!!!

 Please join me in this journey by make a small investment (see I am not asking you to run the whole thing with me) into these guys and gals by making a donations to Support US Armed Forces.  Every little bit will help.  All of this money that we raise will be going toward our goal of making Christmas better for dependents (kids) of the Special Operation Units that are deployed OCONUS.  Our goal is to raise and then spend $100,000 for these kids. 

Many of you all know friends or family members that have served our country and many of you guys know that wallets are tight for many military families.  So our goal is to show the kids that we care for them and what their parents are doing.  So please help out our soldiers’ children this Christmas, and THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATION!!!!  

To donate, please go to:

 Please let me know if you want to track me during the race.  I can sign you up for email or txt alerts



Your favorite runner (aka Lazy Runner)

Benjamin Mena

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