Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Hustle

     A fall race schedule that included a couple 5Ks a couple half marathons and one full marathon is culminating in the Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. 

     As winter is settling in all around us, we travel almost four hours to Sevierville, Tn for our last race of the season.  This race is a unique one for a few reasons.  1.  1,800 people will be running and dressed in Santa Clause outfits of some sort.  2.  The first two graduates of the LaMonica Running and fitness school  are running in this race.  3.  The race starts and stops at an indoor water park.  The ride complete we stroll through the hotel to find the packet pick-up site. 

     Flashing back a few weeks to the Savannah race and that expo we expected about the same.  By this I mean athletic goods more specifically running goods for sale, samples of energy goods and maybe race advertisements.  We did not get any of this.  The main sponsor Reebok had a stand where they were selling items and giving out door prize tickets.  You could feel this was a first year race and was going to have a few hiccups.  Is it bad after a while we can sense these things?

     We left  the "expo" checked into our Hotel and then drove to Gatlinburg to drop off the founder of R1 productions so he could rest before his first half Marathon.  It was then family time and of course shopping in the Christmas store and the outlets.  After walking through the stores until almost 1900 we went to the Mellow Mushroom for dinner.  Nothing like cosmic Pizza and Humus to get you ready for the long run. 

     It was then time to relax and prep race gear for the morning.

     Waking up in the mountains is always awesome but also this time of year it is cold.  This day started in the 20s and hovered around the mid 30s throughout the run. 

     This was the first time this year I had to scrape the frost off my windshield, it was bone chilling cold.  As I went out to go pick up MisFit 23B you could still see the frost over the road, I knew then it was going to be a tough run.  I also knew that all three of us were trained well enough to complete this no matter what the extremes would be.  After final prep getting dressed and protecting from the elements we were ready to race.  

     The wait inside the wilderness was worth it.  Staying out of the cold for a bit saved us all from the elements for a little while. 

     As you all know you can only postpone so long, then you must take the plunge into the elements.  It was time to go and join the other 1797 Santa's for the record breaking start of the Santa Hustle Half-Marathon and 5K.  

     Even the biggest scrooge would be moved by seeing that sea of Santas.  This is a great way to spread Happiness during tough times. 

     As the gun went off and the sea of red took off you could feel the cold crisp air hitting you.  Worried that the clouds from Saturday would be here on race day, we had a pleasant surprise of crisp blue skies and bright sunshine.  That makes the run seem a lot easier.  (13.1 miles is never simple) 
     As we hit mile one the first glimpse of a different rest stop appeared with moose munch being offered.  Yes I said Moose Munch.  This was followed by two cookie stops and one jelly bean stop.   Of course there was the traditional water and Gatorade stops to make it safer for all the runners.  As we approached the half way mark a typical impatient driver nearly ran me over.  He drove right out of a hotel driveway and just missed me.  It took a lot but the MisFit just gave him the thumbs up and drove on (others were not as nice). 

     We got to see all of the Pigeon Forge attractions along with the greater Sevierville City offerings.  The sights kept you going and both cities' police force were out on nearly every corner to ensure our safety.  This was a great thing and I thank them all. 

      Of course in the end we all had fun and were very excited to see the finish line.  It was a tough course but everyone finished with good times.  Raymone Byrd AKA MisFit 23B finished his first Half Marathon and graduated from the LaMonica Running and Fitness school, Gwen finished her third half in just over a month and fourth of the year.  Great job to both of them, they did awesome. 

Now it is time for the off season and prepping for the next season.  Oh well On to the Next!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jingle Bell Jog

     As we all know the year comes to an end in a few weeks.  This also means one season of running is coming to an end and we start our training for the next 12 months of pounding the pavement.  I have one scheduled race left for this year the Santa Hustle in Sevierville, Tn.  It should be a ton of fun.  This will culminate a year which started horrendously for me in Afghanistan.  Before we could raise our glasses of water we lost a young Sergeant.  He was the last Screaming Eagle taken from us in 2010.  I know I have mentioned him before but it was this that pushed me to run like a kid this year. 

     I started training while still in the stan.  Waking up two hours before everyone else sometimes in order to get a quality run in.  I had various partners while over there each was also training for something.  They either had a Physical Fitness test upcoming or they were trying to redifne themselves.  I made it back to the states and continued to train getting used to the humidity of Kentucky again while running.  We then traveled to the town of Millington, TN to run my first race stateside of the year in June the Navy Ten Nautical Miler.  It was a brutal run in 105 degree heat.  I slugged through it beating the heat as best as possible.  My best training partner, my wife also made it through the heat for the 11.6 mile course. 

     From there we ran a few 5Ks and 10Ks as we went through the summer.  We also helped in putting on the 5th Annual Haley's Team Twilight 5K in Anniston, Al.  The Anniston Runners Club (http://www.annistonrunners.com/) came out in full force to help make it a success and I thank them for it. 

     We ran in the run for the fallen and the week of the eagle 10K on Fort Campbell.  We started to train on the weekends with the Clarksville Running Club (www.clarksvillerunningclub.com) .  A great group of runners who encompass all levels of runners.  My better half finished her second half marathon at the Go commando race in October while I used that day to run the 5K as my last tune up before tackling my first Full Marathon in St Louis Oct 23rd.  It was amazing to finish the 26.2 mile course and see my girls at the finish line waiting for me. 

    Then it was on to Savannah for the Rock and Roll Half-Marathon where we ran the Half together and with our long time friends and family.  Another great event which we had a blast with our friends and family and of course my Team Marathon teammates.    We took a couple weeks off before our Turkey day run and then a week later we were running our Jingle bell Jog.  This race was in downtown Clarksville and we ran with about 280 of our closest friends. 

    The race was well organized and from what I could see all the runners had a good time.  We thought the hills would be a challenge to us but the proved not to be that bad.  In the end Gwen had broken through to the podium with her first placing in Age group.  Great work!!!  With just a week until the Santa Hustle we are pumped for it and for our tapering through the end of the year.  I am sure the hustle will be challenging up in the mountains but we will push through it as always.  Well it is on to the next...

What do you have planned to end your year out??

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sneakers, Turkey and Football

     Every year we all plan on being with family and friends through the holiday season.  In the military you are happy just to be home during the season.    As Thanksgiving approached this year knowing we were going to be at home it was time to reflect on that which we are thankful for.  I personally am thankful for my family and my fellow Soldiers.  I am most thankful for those who gave it all like SSG Jonathon L Martin and SGT Michael Beckerman. 
      This year being home I had to spin the race calendar to decide which Turkey trot to run in.  One caught my eye.  The name was different than the usual ones so I said this is what we will be doing.  This run was not for awards and the only fee was to bring non perishables and pass the turkey.  This one was purely for charity and was put on by the Clarksville Running Club.  All the food donated would go to MANA.  Of course for every runner that passed the Turkey $1 was donated to MANA as well. 
     The Pass the Turkey Family 5K for charity started with 190 runners watching the Turkey get a 2 Minute head start.  Now we only had to pass a lady wearing a cumbersome costume and oh yeah she is pregnant.  This made everyone try harder so as not to get beat by her and to get more money for MANA.  We cruised through the course not trying to PR just having fun and passing the turkey.  All 190 runners miraculously passed the turkey and had a great time doing it.  This was a great event put on cant wait till the pub run on Sunday. 
     Once the run is over you know it is still Turkey day so we get home clean up and cook us some turkey with all the fixings.  This would be our first Thanksgiving in our own home and also would be historically our smallest audience.  W usually have 15 to 20 guests at our house for dinner and football.  This year, we only had three.  In years past we played football outside the house drank beer and had fun until late until the night.  This year was like an old Tyson fight, dinner check then they were gone. 
    With dinner done it was time to watch football.  Root for the packers just because you want to see them try to go undefeated.  Root for whoever is playing the cowboys just because they are the cowboys and then flip a coin in the brother game at night.  This is traditionally a good day, even though the cowboys won. 
     Well that is it our day of Sneakers, Turkey and Football ended.  What do you do for Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Now from heat to cold and dark

     As daylight savings time is upon us here in the USA, the best run times are now blanketed with darkness.  To add to the dark we now add the other runner favorite to cold.  Although it is not completely here yet the mornings are cold enough to almost stop you at the door.  This is where discipline takes over.  Much like running in the heat,  you must have a well thought out plan before running in the cold.

     It starts as usual with proper fueling and hydration.  Many people fall into a trap during cold months and drink way less water and walk around nearly dehydrated without thinking they are close.  This is due to us believing we do not need it as much when it is cold. 

     The body needs water to survive, you need to keep hydrated all the time not just when you are hot.  You also need to keep eating right even when you tend to indulge more.  The fall and winter are the pitfall seasons for many athletes.  Many cruise into the holiday season and wind up gaining weight and losing the gains made the rest of the year.  Again discipline must take the front line.  Believe me we all love the cookies and pies that are everywhere during this time.  We just need to take it in moderation and know when to stop.  My advice is to enjoy the time but keep your training in mind while still having fun.

    Secondly each of us is made differently and feel the cold in different levels.  What may be cold to one person is not to another.  You need to know yourself and dress accordingly.  Sometimes it does not matter if you look cool or cute when you go out to get your run in.  You need to be comfortable and keep yourself warm and thus healthy so you make it to the spring season of races. 

    These are just little tidbits of making it through this time of year.  What do you do to make it through? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Savannah: Rocking in the South

     The drive was about 9 hours with four of us in the car.  We dropped our four legged friends off at their hotel for the weekend and took off down the highway.  The first four hours of the drive were in the rain in TN and north west Georgia.  This Half-Marathon would be different.  I was running with my wife Gwen and we had my Brother Tom, and our friends Nat and Jason running the race with us as well.  As we got closer to Savannah the excitement started to rise a bit.  I had not been to the city in over a year, and the last time was very busy with moving back to the states after a couple years abroad.  We got in unpacked the car and ordered a pizza for dinner.  We sat and talked about life, politics and of course football.  Then it was planning time for the next day at the Expo. 

     We had to make logistical moves with two sets of people linking up at the event.  After some debate were on our way to the Expo.

     As we walk up to the outside we see the dodge test drive for charity.  Although this means we will be waiting for a while it turns out perfect as the wait gives our friends who we had not seen in over 13 years a chance to get there.  Then it was time to enter the oasis of the Expo.  We got our numbers and our swag bags and of course played around inside while meeting new runners and checking out up coming races. 

     I made two stops by the Team Marathon booth.  Both times I got to meet my team mates.  On the first trip I met Jill who was about to do her first full on Saturday.  We talked for a while about everything from fueling to upcoming races.  On my second trip I met Gigi, we talked about what distances we were doing and took a couple photos.  Then it was off to the house for dinner and relaxing for the early morning.  Since transportation was going to be tricky with all the road closures we decided to leave at 530 am.  Wow it was a cold morning.  Lexie had the job of having our clothes and recovery drinks at the finish line so she could get some more sleep. 

     Then it was go time.  730AM the first runners in Coral 1 took off and about every minute and a half after that the next ones went.  By 800AM we were off and heading down Bay St.  The crowds were pretty deep as we took off and all the way to the overpass by the bridge.  The Rock and Roll series ensures you have a good time while running as there were bands at every mile or so.  This is very motivating and helps to keep you moving along. 

     At about mile 7 I ran into another of my teammates and running friend Tia Pettygrue.  She was the Pace team leader for the 2:30 group and was leading her group along.  She still had the time to take a photo of me while running, thanks Tia. 

     The crowds continued to be amazing right up until the finish.  Cheerleaders from the local High Schools and bands were there to get us to the final turn.  Once we were there we knew we had Gwen at her PR and we just rolled in at 2:12:50.  This was almost three minutes off of Gwen's last race.  Great work. 

     Over all we had a great weekend.  I met a lot of team mates and have some good memories of it all. 

Me and Team mate Devie

      The after race concert was Carolina Liar and the Train Wrecks both were very entertaining and we had a blast.

     Well it is on to the Next now for rest and train up for the Santa Hustle in the Smokies  See ya there

Monday, October 31, 2011

A few days till Savannah

     A year ago I was dodging the ban in stan. Now I am trained enough to run a marathon one week and run a half two weeks later.  Is that an expression of being a warrior?  Probably not just an attitude of if i want it , I can do it.  How many of you have ever just signed up for a race before you trained for it? 

     I know I am not alone in this.  I have put my training and endurance to the limits this past three weeks.  Once this weekend is up I have to find another challenge for the following months. I feel as long as I am challenging myself I will be in a good training mode.  It most likely will not matter since I will train anyway, but it is always good to add to my my plate. 

     This weekend I will run with my best friend , my wife Gwen,  My brother and mentor Tom and some good friends in Savannah.  We will run through this historic city for 13.1 miles.  It will be great to finally make the run with the two of them.  I was supposed to run Disney with them in January but war got in the way so this is our make up. 

     This race is also significant since my team mates form Team Marathon will be there and my running friends from around the world will both be well represented.  I think Savannah will be rocking this weekend which is not much change to normal there.  This time however there will be 30,000 runners plus friends and cheer squads out there making it pretty extreme, like the orange crush parties of old or the St Patrick's day parties of every year. 

The excitement is maxing out , I hope everyone is ready and the Southern Party port is ready for another great time.  Good luck to all my fellow runners and Friends see you at the finish. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rock and Roll St Louis

     Finally after training for what seemed like forever and lasting through the heat wave of 2010 my first full Marathon weekend was upon me.    We put the dogs in the kennel and packed the car for the 4 hour trip to St Louis.  As we drive I have many thoughts in my head.  Did the epic heat destroy my training?  Would I even make it 26.2?  Should I have ever signed up for this? 

I have some butterflies as we get our room and head to the Expo.  Once I hit the sign in desk and get my number they all go away and I go into game mode.  I pick up my swag bag, which for the price you would expect a lot more.  We then go throughout the expo.  I visit my sponsor Team Marathon as the family shops the expo. 
We then find some compression socks and good deals on Mizunos to replace the ones I will wear during the race.  We take advantage of the expo pricing for the upcoming Country Music 1/2 and sign up for it.  At least there is always good news in life. We then meet one of the contestants from the Biggest Loser and she was awesome she has run in a ton of 1/2 marathons over the last couple years and is inspirational. 

I then go back to the Drury Inn to relax as the girls check out St Louis.

As they are out I prepare my clothes for the AM and continue to hydrate and carb load. 

     It is off to sleep as the last hour before the race count down.  I get up and go through my usual pre race ritual.   I shave, shower and get my drinks ready before we head down to the starting area.  It is about a mile to the start line from the Hotel.  Of course it is still dark and a little chilly so the crowds are moving a bit faster than normal.  As we get close to the staging area the mood is electric and I am getting excited.  I use my other ritual the porta potty and head towards the corral.  I am in number 9 since I did not know what kind of time to predict having never run 26.2 miles before.  I put down 4:20 as a guess.  I had dreams of a low 3 -3:45.  Having spoken to more experienced marathoners they kept saying to remain consistent and beware for pitfalls.  Like the mile 18, or 22 wall.  I took all this free education in and went about my training program.  Honestly I missed a lot of long runs due to work comittments or the intense Heat, but still felt I could do this thing.  
     I mean c'mon if I do not have a positive attitude quiting becomes the best option.  That was not going to happen.  I head toward my actual corral and say my last see ya laters to my girls. 
Of course now thoughts are racing through my head again.  Of course I can hear everyone else voicing those same thoughts all around me so I start to feel much better.  At about 0730 the first gun goes off and the lead corrals are sent a racing.  

It is then every 90 secinds or so before the rest of us are let go onto the streets of a very enthusiastic city.  They are happy the Cards are in the series and had won on Saturday night.  Finally it was time to get this thing going.  We were ushered up close to the start line to await our time to get this thing started. 

     We were off and into the streets.  The first 5K  flew by.  With people still pretty deep cheering us on through this distance it was pretty impressive.  The next 10K I tried to get into my groove settling in between 8:40 and 9:10 per mile.  I took my first drink stop at mile 10, I think I waited too long to hit a drink stop.  I also ate some chomps at this time.  It seemed as though I was doing great until I ate some energy chomps.  Really weird.  Then it was into a hilly section of the course which took us through mile 17 and through a real nice park.  the crowds in this section were awesome as we were digging deeper to stay on course.  I start talking to more and more runners in this section,  I met a fellow Soldier and a man who has run a ton of Marathons.  Yes the marathoner led to more advice and lessons.  He told me the last 6 miles I will be very fragile.  That did not help me much , now I had 1 more thing to think about, great.  I then hit the infamous mile 18 where I believe I was told it was a wall.  That is where my wall began to build, I can feel my legs start to twitch with each step. 

    This took me back to my 22 mile training run where as I ran further I felt like my left leg would get weaker and try to give out on me. 

     I decided as usual I would power through this wall and get to the most famous wall of them all mile 22.  This of course was at a hill and my legs were starting to do things I have never felt before.  Good lord will I make it.  Again I had to strategize in order to ensure success. 

How do we measure success though?  Is it in meeting a self imposed goal or in finishing what we start? 

     I started to feel like I could not move my legs by mile 24 where I met a 2nd time marathoner from Missouri.  We talked each other through about a half mile to the next water stop.  I then met a guy who was running with his older brother but he was cramping worse than me.  We spoke as we barely jogged until the last water stop at about 25.2.  I got going and made it up to exactly mile 26 where my cramps went from my toes up through my chest .  I hunched over and tried to massage it out.  I lost 10 minutes right here.  The best part was I was less than 1000 meters from the finish.  I ran for a bit walked for a bit and then pushed to the final curve.  I could see the finish and the crowds yelling and screaming.  I knew I did not make my goal time, but I made it.  I looked to my right and saw my girls.  I ran over and kissed each of them then ran through the finish having accomplished one of the top things on my list.

      I grabbed a water and tried to walk but the cramps just got worse.  It was hard to walk, I went over to my daughter and she gave me a pickle in a bag.  I drank the juice and instantly the cramps went away.  It was amazing. 

I did it.  even though I did not make my goal I did it in 4:30:09  not bad for my first time .

On to Savannah now for a family Half-Marathon

Friday, October 21, 2011

Go Commando

As the cold front swung in (finally)  we were hitting the last week of preparations for the Go Commando race day in Clarksville, Tn.  With my first full marathon a week away, I signed up for the 5K with the plan of running the last 5-6 miles of the half-marathon with my wife. 

     The weather finally caught up to October as temps dropped to the high 40s and low 50s.  This makes for almost perfect running weather.  We have been training for this since my return from Afghanistan in April.  Now was her show time.  Of course she had the pre-race jitters but these are normal for everyone.  as the runners lined up the Marine Corps honor guard presented our Nation's colors and a local singer belted out the National Anthem.  The Gun went off and all nervousness went out the window as they ran off onto the course.  
     I am certain many of you have read this line on a race description "fast flat course".  Well as usual that is not the case.  On this day miles 3-6 were rolling and steep climbs.  I will give it to the planner the final 6 and a half miles were flat.  About 30 minutes after the start of the half we were lined up and ready to run.  I stayed near the back since I was really just here for a training run. 

     The gun went off for our start and as usual I could not lay back.  I started running through the almost 250 runners that lined up in front of me.  I started passing and gaining my stride.  We were on a kind of weird switch back style course.  We funneled into the first one for mile one on a sidewalk size path with runners heading in both directions.  It was very tight quarters for running so speed had to be mixed with careful running.   We then ventured accross the main road onto the second mile switchback.  this time the crowd was not bad on the way up.  On the way back we were passing all the runners again.  We then had to make another turn through runners back onto the main road.  Now we could stretch our legs out and turn it on.  I pushed harder now and finished in 22:40, 17th place male 25th overall and 3rd in Age group.  Not a bad 5K. 
    I then went and ran to catch up to my wife for the last 5 miles of her run.  Her training had kicked in and she was much faster than she thought she would be.  So I missed her at the link up point.  I then started pushing it to find her.  I caught her as she was heading towards mile 10. 

She was doing well and I joined her for the rest of the run.  She ran hard the rest of the way and is my inspiration.  She has been through way more than her share of hard times and always steps up with her passion for things to be great.  She finished ten minutes under her PR from her last race and five under her goal for this race.  I am very Proud of her. 

She crossed the line in 2:14 and change  a great effort.  We will both run the Savannah 1/2 in a couple weeks but this week she will be my support during my First Full in St Louis.   Can not wait to cross the finish line and find her.  Nothing is better than running with friends and family and since she has gotten into running I have gotten better,  Thanks!!!
See You all after St Louis!!!!!!!!!