Boston via Fayetteville- All American Marathon

Of all of the places I've lived since becoming a military spouse, Fayetteville has been my favorite. There are many reasons why; among them, this is a really active community. I am involved in the local running club (FRC) and Team RWB chapter, which has helped me meet like-minded individuals and really connect to the area. When the inaugural All American Marathon was announced, I had to do it...never mind I had a marathon 3 weeks earlier.

Here's what my training looked like after Raleigh:

8 miles progression
5 miles
12 x 800m
8 miles race pace
3 miles
2 miles
3 miles

You're correct, math major- that's 35 total miles between races. I certainly wasn't sandbagging, though- as exercise science has proven, anaerobic activity boots aerobic fitness and my Crossfit WODs helped me prepare for 26.2 miles. I had my sights set on qualifying for Boston (3:35), a race I'm madly in love with after experiences in 2009 and 2012.

Race Day:

3700 of my closet friends and I began at Festival Park, made a loop downtown Fayetteville, and made our way up Hay Street. 6:30 is an early start time for a marathon, but I was grateful for it because of the heat we would experience later in the day- that hour made a huge difference.

One of the neatest things about All American is that our house is directly on the course at mile 4. This meant FRC was able to set up as an unofficial water/Gatorade stop in our front yard and offer our bathroom to runners in need- I was really tickled by this, because I have done the same when port-a-potties weren't in sight.

Best of all? Mom brought Christian and Pavel out. I stopped and gave Christian a big smooch before continuing on- THAT was the best moment of the day!

"Getting up early to make this sign wasn't easy either!"

The Realtor should include "mile 4 of the All American Marathon" when this house is listed

That's my 6 month old in the carrier- youngest volunteer on the course!
Within the next couple of miles, I saw more clusters of friends from the gym, FRC, and church. Those morale boosts helped me maintain a pace between 7:30-8 minute miles for the first 10K, turning in a 47:03 and "banking" time while the sun was still down and temperatures were low.

"Take my picture while I still feel good!"
Who needs Marathonfoto when your friends are on the course?!
Miles 6-10 took us on the All American Expressway- flat, fast, and shaded. Like they had in Raleigh, the folks at Wear Blue: Run to Remember set up another "blue mile", honoring Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. At that time, I was running with a fellow Team RWB member and active duty Soldier, Quincy. As we came up to the photos, Quincy stuck his hand out (as if he were slapping hands with a spectator) alongside all of the pictures and gave an air "five" as an act of solidarity. I got right behind him and followed suit. When I glanced behind my shoulder, all of the other runners were doing the same. It was a beautiful give-you-chills type moment. Second to the smooch with Christian, that touching tribute was my favorite part of this race.


As we entered Fort Bragg, the full separated from the half marathoners and the crowd thinned a bit. The sun was up by that time, but the aid stations were frequent and included on course nutrtion, Generation UCAN. I'll save you the hard sell here (and have no affiliation with the product), but this is the stuff for someone following paleo/primal, trying to become fat adapted, or logging a bajillion miles yet still struggling with weight. Taking in 300g of carbohydrate during a race is whack, y'all. So is running with a ziplock full of cold sweet potatoes.

I was still ahead of pace at the half (1:44:17) but around mile 20 (2:42:18), my pace slowed to 8-8:30 minute miles. I once got advice from an experienced marathoner that went something like this:

"If you happen to catch up to other runners, you better pass them; don't start running at their pace with them. The fact that you caught up with them means that you're faster than them, so keep on going forward..."

That helped me focus on something during the final (painful!) miles. I caught a lot of runners, including two ponytails and moved from 8th overall female to 6th. It was neat to run on Post and I appreciated the Soldiers out (everywhere!) supporting us- the course never got desolate or lonely because of them.

Not so smiley at mile 25, eh?!
I crossed the finish line in a Boston qualifying time of 3:33:17, 1st in my age group, 6th female overall. Thrilled with the results and enjoyed the experience of running in a town I love and on an Army Post with so much rich history. At the finish line festival, Meb Keflezighi signed autographs, live music played, and the US Army Golden Knights parachuted onto the parade field.

Medal is in the shape of a parachutist badge ("jump wings")
Who should do this race? Anyone with a military family history. It's very Marine Corps Marathon-esque in terms of spirit, but without the crowds and lottery. Also, runners within driving distance of Fayetteville- they offer packet pick up in other cities (Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham) prior to the race. Since it's point to point, the race offers a shuttle service from Post back to downtown or the host hotel for easy logistics.

50 Staters can fly into Raleigh or Fayetteville and, although it's got some hills, it's a great NC candidate for 50 sub 4 members. Locally, there is a great Marathon Maniac presence, too!

Convinced? Join me in 2015...this is definitely one I'll revisit!
Let's go to Beantown, Baby!