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!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Long Run

     As October started I was about to go on my longest run to date.  In my mind wasn't any negativity but positive thoughts.  My Daughter came off the IR yesterday for 27 solid minutes on the pitch.  After over a month of being injured she ran a mile in 8:08 in what she said was her slugging it (we all know she is faster) in order to be cleared to play.  We are very proud of how she handled the injury and rehab. 

     Going into my 20 mile training run I did not think of how hard it might be, but of her powering thorugh over the last month.  As I started it was the first cold morning here of the fall.  I wore a long sleeve t-shirt , shorts and a fleece cap.  After the first 9-10 miles I went back into my neighborhood.  It was time to pick up my running partner as she was going to hit a 12 in her training.  I was having some stomach problems so I took a quick break to fix that and change my shirt then back on the road.  We sped out on her first five.  then I can feel my legs starting to fight me back. 

     I could hear her asking if I was ok which is usually the other way around.  I knew I must be favoring something.  So I adjusted my stride and pushed through.  We looped the school zone and were back on the mill.  This is where I started to feel the pain.  My calf started to cramp at her 8.78 mile mark.  I had to take a quick walk break and lengthen my stride to stretch it out. at 8.88 we were running again to the home stretch.  Back onto Tiny Town and straight west to the estates.  As I hit the neighborhood I knew I was over 20 and I could ease up and cool down. 

In 22 days I will run my first full marathon and I think I am ready.  St Louis watch out here I come...