Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So it began...or begins

I went to law school because I hate numbers. And yet, I obsess about numbers when it comes to running. Perhaps I went to law school because, as my college calculus professor once told me, "Son, there are three types of mathematicians: those who can add and those who cannot. Can you figure out where you belong?"

That said, I should also tell you that I have yet to sit down and plan my marathon training plan for Boston. I know, I'm a slacker. What this means is that, for some reason, I failed to start my marathon training on time. Instead of diligently beginning week one last week, I did my first few runs in about a month last week...and then I realized I was a week behind. When the Redhead shared her fear about this, I double and triple checked my calendar and hung my head in shame.

Therefore, somewhat panicked, I diligently began week two of training on Monday. And that meant that I, unlike last year, did my track workout by going to MSU's Jenison Field House. Hummm....

If you think running on a track sucks. Then just try to imagine how much it sucks to run on a track half as small and in an environment so dry your lungs feel like they are inhaling fire on your warm-up laps. But, after my Boston failure last year, I'm going to stick it out no matter what. And so I did.

The mini-track had about a dozen of the MSU's Men's Track team partaking in an unofficial practice. Yep, shirtless studs with six-packs popping were also laping me around the track. It was great because it was meat-tastic and because it only served to offend my pride to force me to run faster.

Then, last night I decided to sit down and write out my schedule. Which is when, looking at a calendar and not in a panic, I realized that I was actually in my first week of marathon training. Counting sucks.

A few pictures of the mini-track below:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The BQ Divide

Seems that selling out in eight hours alerted the fine people at BAA about a new marketing opportunity. And the folks over at Adidas lost no time in taking advantage of this new opportunity. Last week I noticed Adidas is not only selling Boston Marathon merchandise, including the standard 2011 Boston Marathon gear, but a new version of the Boston line…the Boston Marathon Qualifier.

Yep, if you were one of the unfortunate who were jammed out of an opportunity to run Boston 2011 (and not one of the lucky fall BQers who can try again in 2012 using their fall 2010 time), then you can at least let the world know you are a BQer, even if you didn’t actually run the race.

see: Boston Marathon Qualifier

Now, this brings up a few interesting questions that get at the heart of runner's superstition. The Redhead is a firm believer that a runner should never wear the 'race shirt' before the race. Therefore, any of you who wear the 'race shirt' during the actual race are offensive to the Redhead. Hay, it's her belief system.

So, does this new line run afoul of such running lore? Are the running gods to be offended?

I'll admit I carry some runner superstition. I don't wear the running shirt before I run the race, but I'm fine with wearing a 'race shirt' even if I didn't run it that year. This is proven by my purchase of the 2010 Capital City River Run race shirt. Didn't run it this year, but I loved the new shirt and got it on sale. Score. The Redhead thinks doing so is bad runner mojo.

I'm sure several runners would never dream of buying Boston Marathon apparel if they didn't run the actual race, but those same runners may be willing to wear the BM Qualifier gear. At least, that is what Adidas is banking on.

And, given the prestige of the race, and the likely notion that all future Boston Marathons will be equally difficult to obtain a spot in, this new line will cover the gap of BQers who are too scared to buy actual BM merchandise. Even though this is a clear attempt by Adidas to exploit—for a profit—those runners screwed out of the chance to run the race they worked so hard to qualify for, it keeps those runners from possibly feeling like posers while recognizing their accomplishment.

Publish Post

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jingle Belle 5K Saga

I wouldn't go so far as to say we have a winter wonderland here in Michigan, but the snow is falling. Fortunately, for the Redhead and a few of her friends, the snow waited until after the Jingle Belle 5K.

I had been under the impression that this was my first time spectating the Redhead, but she was kind enough to remind me that I did spectate her at the Boston 5K. True. But that was more just a I-just-happened-to-be-there spectate than an actual I made signs and such spectate. Moreover, after she was kind enough to be my number one superfan whilst she was injured, I wanted to return the favor and spectate right.

Which means, I got to make a few signs. And, because the Redhead was only running this 5K for fun, I knew she would be able to appreciate my signage while out on the course. I selected four spots to cheer her on, and made four signs for support.

Such things as "Sure, invite Belle, but no Elle?!?"* and "Use Those Sexy Getaway Sticks" were there to greet her (check out her post to see the other two signs, including a rather racy one). While on the course I shouted such encouraging things as "Santa loves sweaty runners!" And "This is probably enough to get off of the naughty list, well not you (selecting a random runner and pointing her out)!" And "Hurry up will you, I'm freezing my butt off out here."

After the race, I presented the Redhead and her friends with a victory bag containing a instant hand warmer, a pedicure set, and some Christmas chocolates. I was glad to be out there and support the Redhead like she has done for me so many times before.


What I'd like to do now is address an unsettling situation: the existence of a female only event without the existence of a male counterpart. Therefore, I have decided to organize my own 5K. I've helped on enough local race committees to know how to make this happen. And, I'm thinking the Christmas Blue Balls 5K will be an excellent male only event. Details of this event will be posted as the year progress, but I'm thinking huge. Maybe Old Spice, Car and Driver, and Maxim. I'm also going to have to get Chuck Norris to make a special appearance.**

* Yep, a Christmas pun.

** So, does anyone have an 'in' with Chuck?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winner Winner Subway Dinner!!!

I know it is late, but work and moving to a new place with the Redhead can't wait. That said, congrats to Georgia Snail for the perfect guess of 5:13. Some readers may argue that such a perfect guess was possibly arranged, but I'm not really worried about it.

And what does he get? Well, an Amphipod reflective vest. Best be safe when it gets dark early. Also, a pair of Smartwool PhD running socks. Also, two packages of Sharkies organic energy sports chews and a Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif Bar. Now is that awesome or what?

Congrats again to Georgia Snail. An excellent guess. So, email me to collect your prizes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Weekend

So, everyone knows that this weekend is the NYC Marathon. Everyone is asking the same question. No, not if Meb will repeat; but how fast will Jared run?

My guess...4:42.

If you guess correctly, down to the minute. I'll send you a wonderful prize. If two people guess the same time,* I'll just randomly draw the winner's name from a Asics 2150. Unused 2150 that is.

*Really! Really?!? You guessed the same time as someone above you. I mean, you just had to have the time as well? Couldn't go up or down one minute eh? I mean, this isn't a blind contest, you can see every previous guess. No desire to make this very easy for me? Oh well, this is America, and I won't rain on your parade.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hell-o-ween Race Recap

I had a goal of racing a 10K this year and trying to get a sub 40min time. Typically I run the Turkey Trot 10K down in Detroit. Often I run with a family member or more, but I was thinking of racing it this year. Unfortunately, the Redhead and I will be out of town and therefore I'm unable to race the TT 10K.

Now the Redhead had been planning on running the one-time-only Run Thru Hell on Halloween 5K & 10K for a month or so. And she, Sun Runner, and the Engineer made a plan to do this race in Halloween get-up. Meanwhile I had been looking around for a local 10K sometime after Grand Rapids. It was only earlier on this week that I decided to join them for this particular 10K; that is, I had originally wanted to avoid this race because of the many vicious hills.

Now, because everyone in the group would be dressing up, I needed a costume. Fortunately for me, the Universe conspired and I found the greatest shirt in the world.

Aptly named "The Duel." This shirt represents everything that is awesome in this world. I mean, it has two dueling dragons and two heroic warriors riding said dragons...all engaged in a fantastic battle of good and evil. I saw that shirt, and I knew I had to have it.

My costume was set; I was a poorly adjusted adult male living in his mother's basement and who spends all of his time playing WoW. Aside from his extreme social awkwardness, he has an estimated Second Life worth of about $2,000. He is only running because his mother insisted he get some fresh air and make friend IRL. If he didn't finish the 10K, he would have to start paying for the family Internet. (It is important to note that once in character, I maintained said character for the duration of the event.)

With just over 3,000 runners, I left the crew and made my way up near the starting line. The first mile was a crazy jumble of running around a crowded dirt country road. I noticed my watch beeped before I had crossed the first mile marker. At that point I thought, best to just not look at my Garmin this race.

After the 5K and 10K split, I just focused on trying to pick off as many runners as I could. I dug deep and surged on the up-hills while pushing on the down-hills. After the turn-around, I began to look for the Redhead. Not long afterwards I saw the lovely Daphne running towards me.

After mile 4 I realized I hated my glasses, and they weren't even real. However, I was glad I was close to done, and I simply tried to focus on finishing the race. When I finished, I was surprised--but quite happy--to notice I had managed a sub 40min race.

Most importantly, my mom won't force me to pay for my basement internet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crazy is as Crazy Does

Before I begin to bother all of my friends/relatives and start to ask them embarrassing questions, I need a little help checking my sanity. I seem to have lost an orange Nike Chicago Marathon half-zip running shirt. It was from 2008 or 2009, I can't recall.

I can't seem to find it. And, in all honestly, I can't seem to find evidence on the web that it even existed. If is isn't on the web, could it possibly have existed? Am I crazy?* Did it exist, or was it just a dream about things I love (orange and the Chicago Marathon)?

If you have seen it--then give it back. If you have your own or know what I'm talking about and just want to help me sleep better at night, please confirm that it did exist.

Love Always,


* The Redhead is not allowed to comment on this. Recently I woke her up in the middle of the night as I was laughing hysterically--in my sleep. What?!? It is not my fault I very very funny.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grand Rapids Race Recap

To tell this story, a short recap about my training is necessary. I began this training session rather out of shape; but having taken well needed rest. The break allowed some lingering injuries to heal, but it meant my first real training run was a 10K disaster--an 8:56/M average. Compare that to the 6:36/M average I had for the same course the previous year. The July 4th 10K is significant also because it was occurred on a hot, sunny, and mostly unshaded course. Why do those three things matter? See this or this to remind you.

Alas, as the many hot and muggy summer days moved along, I kept diligent to my training schedule and maintained a healthier diet. Soon my times were improving, and the +25 pounds began to drop. I was returning to my racing form. Yet, it wasn't until some quality runs in August that I began to think I would be able to take a shot at another BQ attempt. When my last training run resulted in a 23Mer at a 7:01/M average, I felt a PR could be in the making.

But, I've had enough runs--several marathons included--where things didn't go well. Calf cramps have been an issues in the past, but I hadn't dealt with one this training cycle. Which is why I got extremely nervous when I woke up early Saturday morning with a terrible calf cramp. No &$!@ way! Now? Really! Needless to say, my confidence was a little shaken.

Later that day, the Redhead, my sister Emma, and my cuz LeBrian and I all went to the expo to get our bibs and do a little spending. Sadly, we failed to meet up with Sun Runner. Bibs and new gear in hand, we settled in for an early night.

Race morning found the temps cool, but the weather predicted the temps to rise quickly. Furthermore, not a cloud in the sky. Exactly the kind of weather report that calls for trouble for me and my calfs.*

My goal was to hit 7 minute miles +/- 5 seconds. After scrambling to the starting line, like always, the gun sounded and we were off. The first four miles were right on target. But mile 5 was a 6:30. Not a great idea. Regardless, I nailed the half at a 1:30. Miles 10 through the half are mostly through a park. In the part I remember feeling that the sun was beginning to take a slight toll.

After the half, the sun was full in the sky and blazing down on me. I tried to keep myself emotionally focused on miles 15-20, but by mile 18 things were falling apart. I began posting miles above the 7:15 pace. My last 8 miles went 7:17, 7:13, 7:31, 7:35, 8:13, 8:04, 8:52, 8:18, 7:54.

The times do not tell the story. Before mile 22 my left calf, which had been acting up after mile 20, snapped. I had to stop and stretch it. I began to run again but it was acting up with every step. I felt the race slipping away. After I passed mile 23 I saw a sign that read "Your next 5K will be your best 5K." I said some very sarcastic and slightly rude things to that sign. I had already began that negative thinking, the kind that infiltrates quickly and can become so consuming and overbearing. At mile 23 I had given up on a PR, another BQ, or even finishing the race strong.

Just after mile 23, I hit an aid station. And I gave up. I just stopped running and began to walk. Not a 'walk' to walk through the aid station, but a 'walk' to walk the remainder of the race. My calfs were awful, and I looked like a 6'1" salt-lick. I was in the darkest place any runner can go, I was in the center of doubt and dispair--located in my mind and pressing hard on my soul.

One volunteer was offering gummy bears. As I approached, and as he offered me the sweet and friendly gummy delights, I gave him a look of death. Couldn't he see, I was walking. Wasn't it obvious, I had given up.

Then I began to hear the volunteers. They kept telling me: I had it; I was doing great! As I slowly passed the stranger offering candy, he said: "Just start running again. It will be alright." I finished my water and continued to walk as I grabbed a Gatorade. But the encouragement of the volunteers and the supporters penetrated. One ray of hope pierced the dark center of my running existence, and I started to run again. I didn't look at my watch. It didn't feel like I was going fast; in fact it felt like I was dragging two blocks of concrete and not my feet. But I was running. One ray of hope, and I was running again. All previous goals became meaningless. The victory lay in the resumption of my running. I won my race three miles ahead of schedule.

It wasn't until I saw I had about 9 minutes and 1.2M to go that I thought I could still make a BQ. In the back of my mind I could recall previous disasters. Previous marathons where I lost hope and allowed the cramps to end a run. Previous marathons where the sun roasting my skull became too much. All of those fails allowed me to dig deep and to find a place I had never found before in a marathon. Soon I saw the Redhead and my family wildly cheering me on. I knew that I didn't have a crazy strong finish, but I also knew I could just stay steady and requalify.

Now, don't get me wrong, BQing again is a big deal to me. For reasons I haven't fully investigated I passionately wanted to run another BQ time. And I'm very excited I did. But, for me, the lasting lesson from the Grand Rapids Marathon was the victory over myself. The volunteers and supporters gave me hope when I had none. I could have fought it. I didn't. I embraced it, and I allowed it to carry one foot in front of the other.

* I know, the temps were nothing compared to what you Chicago runners had to deal with last week; but I ran Chicago 08, so I've been through that. I know your pain.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Between Two Lines

Never, not once, was there an apology
uttered from the pavement, not after
uncountable steps, not one groan of
remorse rebounded up,

nor was there a hint of shame from the rain
that refused to fall, that hung as a wall
of humidity; not a sound when
you stood, arms on your waist, slightly
bent over, and felt the rain pounding
an already soaked body; not even a
whisper of an apology from the wind,

and invisible miles passed without
compassion, miles that onlooking cars
could not see how many elapsed, how fast,
how far remained, miles that simply
pilled up like stones of a monument,

and foundations formed during
predawn hours, laid silently and
often sleepily, spoke no encouraging
words; while a muted sun, with all of its
various faces, offered nothing as it burned
dispassionately down upon your
waning body,

all of this, you endured, for today,
because today you run a marathon, and you
shall use the gift presented today…

to bare your soul, without apology,
between two lines.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Find Your Inner Calm

As I was mindlessly eating a Pop-Tart and some yogurt before my last long run, I began to ponder a bit about my pre-run routine. All of my long runs begin from one of two places. Occasionally there is a third option, which I did not utilize this training session. When you have started your long runs from the same place your routine becomes ingrained. This is a good thing.

The pre-run ritual clams us in ways subliminal and obvious. This calm carries over (or at least should) to the start of our run. But race day is totally different. The normalcy is out the window the moment your alarm sounds. Which is why one of the best skills I learned in high school is the ability to find my own little center of calm when surrounded by thousands of other runners. Panicking runners. Nervous runners. Runners nervous about the bathroom. Chatting and laughing runners. Runners returning to the bathroom for a second or third time. Runners warming up. Runners standing still.

All of this distraction and borderline manic behavior can be quite unsettling. It is easy to get caught up in the emotional turbulence that exists before a marathon. To avoid this, I find a spot, it doesn’t have to be anything special, and I tune the world out. They are not competitors, but peers. We are all racing against ourselves. I just cycle through the same stretches I always do. I smile and I laugh a bit at whatever random thought happens across my mind. And I just refuse to be anything other than calm.

It is this calmness that makes it easy for me to simply stroll up into the corral. So, I wish you all great peace and calm before you begin your next race; however it is you find it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Taper Myths*

Myth # 1: Your body will feel great. Where does this myth come from? Mostly, wishful thinking. Even seasoned marathoners fall victim to this myth until they start to feel subtle or new aches and pains. The truth, you body is healing--not healed.

Myth # 2: You will feel good on all of your taper runs. Where does this myth come from? The idea that after your last long run during the training schedule your body knows it is at taper and therefore, because you leg muscles somehow know that you will be decreasing your mileage, they automatically feel better. This happens to me every time. I use a three week taper (going down from 23M to 13M to 9M and then 26.2M). And still, even after my 13M long run I have difficult runs during the week. I'm not saying I'm going crazy with my mid-week runs. Nope, doing the same thing I always do. But still, sometimes they suck. The truth is that this happens all the time during my training. But I never notice or care because I'm not on taper. I get taper blindness and forget how taxing training is on my body.

Myth # 3: Let me know one you have noticed.

*At least, as experienced by me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Things of Fall II

Or things I learned the hard way...*

I'd call this a race report, but I don't use the half (two weeks out from a marathon) as a race, but more a marathon practice run. So, I'll just give you a few of my observations about the event and my practice run.

To begin, a few things I of note. What I like about the race is that the elevation somewhat resembles that of a rather well known marathon held out East.

Note the down first half, up second half, and down (mostly) from there.

The web page said the start time was 8:00am. As I was getting ready, they made an announcement that the half starts at 8:15. Soooooo, pause the warm-up and try to keep the Redhead warm.** Now, pausing your warm-up sucks, but it is even worse when the pre-race music is seriously the soundtrack to the worst wedding ever. The dance floor was empty if you run with the comparison. I was waiting for them to play the Chicken Dance or the Hokey Pokey.

But bad pre-race music is nothing compared to a race with about 4,000 people and about 25 porta-potties. I was honestly going to go 'bear' in the woods. I mean, I went deep into the nearby woods to try and get some privacy. I was mentally preparing myself to break new ground in my running career when I saw a deer. No joke, a deer. He paused, looked up at me, and said: "Really? How would you feel if I walked into your living room and dropped a duese?" Good point. I walked out defeated and stepped into the long long line.

This resulted in barely getting to the starting line before the 8:15am start. See me sneaking in? Look for the red arrow below.

Once the race began, I used the downhill miles to build up a little time, as the uphill miles awaited. After mile ten, I dropped the hammer to bring in a strong finish.

Yeah, I passed my fellow Boston Marathoner. I close like a cheetah.

Ah, but what did I learn the hard way? I learned that failure to apply Body Glide before a half is a huge mistake. I mean, how do you forget something as basic as Body Glide?

* If I am being honest I should also include this information, stashed away under the category of "Mistakes You Should Only Make Once." The proper order is Icy Hot, wash hands, use restroom and not Icy Hot, restroom, wash hands. Failure to follow the aforementioned instructions will lead to very terrible results.

**The Redhead was kind enough to wake up uber early and come along to cheer me on; plus take a few action shots. Her support, as always, was greatly appreciated.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Things of Fall

Things I should know by now...but have yet to find out.

  • Look at the course map for my half on Sunday. When I casually brought this up, the Redhead said that she has already looked at it and has talked to a few runners who say it is a difficult course. Such things happen often.
  • Pick out my marathon outfit. Pick out my marathon playlist. Decide which shoes I'll be running in. And because I use the half has a pre-marathon test run, I better get going on these things.*

Which reminds me. This marathon I am going to make the last few miles special by rocking out to some of the best songs from the 80s. So, aside from "We Built This City" by Jefferson Airplane and "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr, what shongs should I include?

*Except for the playlist, which I always save until the week of. I go out and get coffee and hang with college kids and make my marathon playlist. Also,I better get going on my song/no-song order. I'm thinknig 4M off, 4M on, 4M off, 4M on, 2M off, 2M on, 1M off, 2M on, 1M off, 2.2M on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Last 23

This weekend I had to work Saturday. Which I wouldn't normally mind but for the fact that I had signed up to run the Grand Rapids Marathon course preview 20M run. Whatevs, I still got the t-shirt (more on how that happened later).

Therefore, I had to push my last 20M+ run to Sunday morning. Because the Redhead's injury pulled her out of the Capital City River Run Half, I could avoid the awkward problem of missing her run so I could do mine--whew, that could have been a sticky situation. Instead, while I started my run, she joined a few of her Daily Mile friends on their bikes so they could cheer a few runners on.

Now, I've been engaged in an excellent offline conversation with Adam about the different approaches to training for a BQ. Essentially discussing whether one should do any, some, or all of your long runs at about marathon pace (mp) or +15 sec at most. I'm from the school of thought that says, running 10M, 13M, or even 15M at mp is a good thing; but there still remains an additional 11M at that pace. I believe the body benefits from knowing what it feels like to run 20M at mp. Because for me, running 15M at a BQ pace (7:15/M) is easy. But the next 5M can pose problems, and things can fall apart quickly.

Moreover, even if you do manage to fight through miles 15-20, you still have another six.* All of which is why I try to make about 45% of my longs runs at mp or faster.** Asking your body to run a pace faster than you have trained for, longer than any of your training runs, leaves a lot of room things to go wrong.

That said, I was able to take advantage of a great running day and crank-out the best run of the season thus far, a 23M run at a 7:01 pace. I even spent a little time on the River Run Half course, as my mile 11 aligned with the Half's mile 4; but I was there earlier than the racers, so I just said 'Hello' to the volunteers and thanked them for volunteering.***

Even though I was unable to get a course preview for the GR Marathon, my sister Emma (who lives in GR) did participate. She is training for her first marathon--although she is an accomplished runner and has completed the 25K distance several times. Emma had an amazing run and was also kind enough to pick up my t-shirt. Now, if I can only convince her to do a guest post.****

Which leaves only one last things to say...let the taper begin.

* I should note that another thing I have learned from personal experience is that you can feel like a rock star at mile 20 and swearing in front of small impressionable children at mile 22. Plus, if you have a bad race during your marathon, you just can't (typically) give it another shot two or three weeks later. As oppose to a bad 5K, where you can give it another go two weeks later with little or no lingering effects.

** I should also note that the Redhead and her coach (as well as many other more accomplished runners) do not subscribe to this training belief.

***One volunteer, after I thanked her, smiled and told me I was running the wrong way.

****When broached with the idea of a guest post, she initially refused simply because she didn't want to be too closely associated with my disgusting feet. Well I'm soooo sorry my feet disgust you. But since we are of the same genetic makeup, I strongly suggest you take a hard look at your feet before you get all judgmental on mine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ice Cream Social Time Y'All

Yesterday I pushed my workout from the am to the pm because I'm lazy...and I love sleep. So I started my 10 x 400m track workout a little after 7pm. Around here that means it was going to get dark during the workout.

When I arrived at the local track, the high school band was practicing in the parking lot. Nothing new. But there was a group of parents outside the stadium setting up tables. After my first 6 laps it was dark and the band had stopped. Soon band kids (bandies) were milling around and eating ice cream.* Me, I was working hard on intervals 7 and 8.

Then the parents began to sit in the stands as the kids began walking onto the field. Best of all, the lights kicked on. Now, it is very rare you get to run on a track under the lights. That is simply something reserved for college runners and pros. And I had an audience which had nothing better do watch while the bandies took their time getting into formation.

So of course my last two laps were my fastest.

* As I left, I was offered some delicious ice cream. Sadly, I was having gi issues that made enjoying such a delectable treat impossible.

Not my track, but you get the idea.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cali and Jet Leg and a Long Run

Last week I was amongst the Redwoods for a work conference. This was the kind of work conference where they actually expected us to work...lots. So, sadly, I was unable to meet up with a few runners/bloggers while I was out there.

I had to accomplish two runs out there, a 5M easy run and a 10M tempo run. So I awoke early on Wednesday and made my way from our resort to the beach, down one very steep hill. And it was long as well. The plus side is that it took me to the beach where I could enjoy some flat running.

I used this same route (just adding more beach running) for my tempo run as well. I think 10M tempo runs are big deals. I try to run them faster than marathon pace (mp) by about 15 sec/M. My last 10M tempo run was a disaster (as it fell only a few days after my 10M CRIM race). So I wanted this to be an excellent run. And hills increase the difficulty of running for time.

Regardless, I just planned on banking time the first 7M (I mean, I do have to go down that monster hill before I have to go back up it) and then hope the monster hill will equal me out.
Which is exactly what I did for the first 7M. Plus, because I couldn't resist myself, I did throw up my hands and yell "Yeeeeeeeeeee!!!!" as I went down the hill because the sensation was a little like a roller coaster.

After running up the hill, I was right on pace, and I buried the pace the last two. Tempo run done.

I arrived back home at 1:30am Saturday morning after flying most of Friday, and there was no way I was going to attempt to do my 14M long run that morning as the Redhead and I had a little catching up to do. I got up at 5:10am regardless to help set up for the MSU v ND tailgate. After staying up past midnight to see MSU prevail in OT, I slept in and didn't start my long run until about 10am. After my tempo run, and tons of travel, and a long day, I was not emotionally involved in my run. I didn't want to do it. I was only engaged during miles 7 and 8, and I was begging myself to keep focused through 10. At 10, I just wanted to hold on and not flop a bad mile. Somehow I managed to do both.

And, for your occuliar pleasure, below are a few pictures I took of the monster hill, which I nicknamed the Del Mar Download (in honor of nearby Silicon Valley).

But I did get to run along this, just like the runners in the picture below.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Going back to Cali

Sadly, I had to leave the Redhead for a few days for work reasons. The good news is that I get to go to Cali for the next few days. I'm staying in Aptos and looking out at the beautiful Pacific Ocean (well, Monterery Bay to be specific).

Guess what, there are hills...everywhere. So my 10M pace run should be interesting on Thursday.

I know, life is sooo hard. Please feel sorry for me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gone with (and then Into) the Wind

I know I know I know, it's no 'hurricane like winds,' but a Midwest 'wind advisory' is no fun. I slept in on Tuesday, thereby pushing my track workout to the evening. I did this because I'm lazy in an attempt to avoid the nasty winds that were blowing from Atlanta to Alpena.

What made this wind even worse is that it was a 'gusting' wind. Which is runner code for 'always blowing when you are running head-on and always easing up when at your back.' I could see waves in the grass the wind was whipping so wickedly. But I nonetheless began rounding the track despite the wind's attempt to whisk me and Tara through Georgia.

And even though it didn't help, I did give the wind a two finger salute each time I faced it for a 100M straightaway. Childish, yes. But frankly my dears...you get the point. Because, in the end, even if you perfectly split time spent going headlong into the wind and with it at your back, you always lose more going into--than you gain going with--the wind.

Finally, I wanted to give a massive thanks to the Redhead for biking along with me on my 14M in FL this past weekend. She assured me I was very lucky to get a near perfect morning--high 70s and no humidity. And it was perfect, because I had my wonderful Southern belle accompanying me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ugh...XX Part 2

The Good:

I went to Playmakers to seek guidance on my little blister problem Monday afternoon. They recommended Blist-O-Ban. I wasn't sure, especially considering the $8 price tag. Alas, I threw on two of the large adhesive strips and began to attempt my 22M run (one day late). There was no pain regarding the heel. Therefore, I now believe in magic because those babies are magic.

I started at 7p and did manage to hit the magical XX mileage mark.

I wanted to run an easy 8:30/M pace. I averaged an 8:37.

The Redhead was kind enough to bike a few miles with me and then meet up with me around mile 14 to provide a needed water break,

The Bad:

It got dark fast. Real fast. Seems the long summer days are over.

It was 87deg to start.

I started out well, but fell apart around mile 11. It was brutal, and I pulled up two miles short of my 22M goal.

I now have a small blister on the bottom of my left foot. Which I will address soon, at least before it becomes the size of its right foot counterpart.

I hurt. Doing back to back 20M runs is not easy.

The Lesson:

I came home and was defeated. Utterly defeated. But a running defeat is not the same as a defeat in life. Run defeats are temporary. And you can have a defeating run and still be optimistic.

Which is exactly how I felt after my run. Yep, butt kicked; even a little loopy. But I proved something out there. I did it, even when I had every reason to not. And how else should you celebrate after such a victory...by going to Taco Bell for some 4th Meal.

Perhaps running defeats and life defeats are not all that different after all, it just depends on your outlook. So, keep you outlook up my running friends.

An Understandable Fail

I had a big weekend of running planned. I was going to run the 10M CRIM on Saturday and follow it up with a slow 22M run on Sunday. But first I should back up to last Tuesday to help establish some context for my weekend fail.

Last Tuesday I took a short 2M run/jog wearing my Vibrams. I’ve owned and used my Vibrams for almost a year now, but I’ve never run farther than 3M wearing them. The reasoning for this is twofold: first; I have the original (read: cheapest version) where there are no straps or material to secure the shoe (is it a shoe?) to the foot (see picture below);

and second, my foot slides in them. I’ve purchased the toe-finger socks to try minimize this, but it all results in the occasional blister on the direct bottom of my heel. And yes, they are the correct size, the foot just naturally slides in any shoe you run in.

When I ran in my Vibrams last Tuesday I nonetheless still got a tiny (dime sized) blister on the bottom of my right heel. No big deal, I’ll just take it easy and it will go away naturally, as they always do.

But during my tempo run I managed to aggravate that blister, and during the last mile of my tempo run I felt the bottom of my heel “squish” a bit. When I got home I noticed the blister had grown to the size of a silver dollar. Ugh…not so good. But it had a few days to recover before the CRIM. No problem.

On the morning of the CRIM the Redhead began inquiring as to my desired pace. I was figuring something conservative—around 75 minutes. Because of her injury, she was going to be the official Spike Cheer Team Captain and photographer.

So, facing 60deg temperatures and a forecast of a cloudless day, I lined up just after the 7min pace sign and slammed an 8oz bottle of water. When there are over 10,000 runners, even if you line up by the 7min pace sign, you are going to have to spend a lot of time playing the human version of Pushy Penguins. I hit the first mile at a 7:08 and felt pretty comfortable. I didn’t look at my watch again until after mile three, where I saw a 6:59 split. Humm I thought, if I keep this up, I could hit something close to 70. But I knew I had the Bradley Hills to deal with, and the temperature was quickly rising to 65+.

When I hit the hills I felt I was moving through several of the runners even though my pace was slowing slightly. Up up up, down, up up up up, down down, up up up up, down, up up up and up. Finally, I reached the top of the hills and the end of mile 6. I decided to focus and try to run 7min miles for the last four. The only problem is that the blister on the bottom of my right heel was getting more and more insistent that it was extremely displeased with its current situation.

Somewhere around the start of mile 8 the blister felt like it exploded, and I felt like I was running on a soaked sponge. To say that this is a painful experience is to understate the experience greatly.

At mile 9 I decided to drop the hammer and ran a 6:24 mile. Because I was so focused, I missed the Redhead cheering for me, but she did manage to snap a picture of my final approach. Despite my goal, I managed to sneak in under 70 min. After the race I hobbled over to join the Redhead and double back to cheer on other runners—including my cousin.

When I finally took of my shoe to look at the damage…well, I’ll just let you see.

Home, and after a shower, the blister had to be addressed. So the Redhead donned her nurse outfit and played running nurse, cutting away the excess skin. It was hands down the most disgusting thing she has had to deal with since the beginning of our cohabitation (three months today!). The blister was so thick that it was like cutting leather. The result is…well…below…

Needless to say, such a mere flesh wound made my attempt at 22M less than 24 hours later idiotic. So, I bailed. And I’ll consider giving it another go tonight. Unfortunately, I’ll have to adjust my long runs accordingly because this could take a few days to heal.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Not to Put to Fine a Point on It

Or Gilding the Lilly

There are a few things I wanted to say before I espouse upon a musing left by my neighborhood hero. First, I failed to notice that this weekend’s 22M run must occur on Sunday, as I am running the 10M CRIM on Saturday. Well, race hard and enjoy a slow long run is what I say.

Also, I got up to do a 6M temp run this morning and it was 50deg. Beep yeah!!! I’m so ready to make out with Fall (as it wraps its cool- temperature arms around me) I might make the Redhead jealous.

But to the topic at hand; Nitmos’ post about just going out and running without a running plan. His post has been floating around in my heard for a few days now—and when you have a 4 hour car drive, that is a lot of time spent thinking about thing Nitmos has thought about. Additionally, I was recently inspired by Adam to review the graphs from my track workouts. Reviewing my track workouts I noticed how consistent my speed was for every interval. Regardless of distance, each graphed interval was flat line. Good if running, no so good if it is your EKG printout.

Nitmos’ post made me wonder: how does my body automatically know what pace to exert per any given distance? Doing 400m intervals, I hit about 80s. Doing 800m intervals, I hit 2:50min. But what I’m not doing is hitting the first 400m at 80s and then slowing to a 90s lap. I go 85s then 85s.

For some reason, I got an idea into my head this past Tuesday that I would add an extra 400m to my track session (I didn’t have a 400m interval scheduled that day). So, at the end of the workout I tried to burn out a 72s-75s 400m. I hit 80s flat. And, honestly, I was a little surprised. I felt like I was really pushing this one.* Yet, all I did was hit my normal 400m pace.

Now, I’m all for consistency, and running marathon miles at a consistent pace is a good thing (various course elevations may slightly alter this approach). Yet, am I doing the same thing as Nitmos and just running on feel and not fighting it? Shouldn’t I be trying to hit my 800m interval at 80s for the first lap and then trying to keep it close for the second lap? Is a 80s + 92s (1:52min) better than a 86s + 86s (1:52min) interval. Is there really more room to improve if I hit uneven spits?

I wonder....

*I know I was tired from doing an entire track workout, but it really wouldn’t be any different than the last 400m interval of a 2 x (6 x 400m) workout.

Monday, August 23, 2010


This past weekend I had my first 20M run since April. I love to say: “It’s not the XX, but the VI of a marathon that get you.” But if you haven’t run 20M in a long time, the last five are going to hurt.

And that was the story this past weekend. So, while the Redhead was away and enjoying the fun Chicago has to offer, I tucked into bed at 8pm to be up by 4am (that’s right, Chicago has nothing on the Lansing night-life).

Sure it was 71deg at 5am and sure it was about 90% humidity, but what’s new? Most annoying was that the weather decided to drizzle on and off, but never fully rain (read: keeping the humidity high while never offering the sweet refreshment of cool rain). The run went well for the first 15M, but soon fell apart during the last 5. It should come as no surprise that the last 5 held a lot of ‘just focus on one more mile’ and ‘will this run ever end?” I also ended up chanting my montra for the last two miles. But I made it.

Next week I introduce a new ‘tweek’ into my training, stacking 20M+ runs back to back. So I’ll be doing 22M on Saturday, this time with an extra focus on the last 5.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Farewell to Arms (and Legs)

Yeah sure, you may have been the one to break up with me first, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to end it anyway. I just thought I’d stay with you until after the holiday—I don’t want your friends to think I’m rude or anything.

That said, I’d like to say thank you for all of your kind sarcastic remarks and your willingness to allow bloggers and your wife to school you in running. Your every failure lifted my spirits just that much higher.*

I could spend more time drafting a mini-dissertation on why you will be missed, but others have done so and I couldn’t do it better.

Finally, the Big Ten is just too good for you.

* Yes, I am doing the macho thing and masking my sadness by being cold and indifferent.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Long Discussion About Things

or…My Running State of Training Speech

I’ll begin with an admission, I’m bad with change. I’m not talking about my absolute hatred of pennies; no, it’s the other kind of change. More specifically, I resist making an easy change even when it will benefit me. An example: I started my new job last October, the week before the Chicago Marathon. At my previous job, clients came to the firm. Now, working for a corporation, we go to the client. This means I went from a very predictable 8a to 5p job to days where I may work from 12p to 10p by the time I finish my commute home. Because the profession I represent is 24 hours a day/7 days a week, often I have meetings at 7pm (and the occasional 6am meeting). At my old job, we had unlimited internet freedom. New job, not so much. Old job, at desk all day. New job, at desk once a week. Basically, I now work non-standard hours and must always dodge the internet boogeyman.

That said, back to the ‘bad with change’ part. While training for Boston I could have done my runs in the morning if I knew I had to work late that evening. I didn’t. Instead I tried to force in late runs and ended up missing several workouts. Yep, I’d get home at 9:30p and I’d try to go do a tempo run—which never went well. Why run at night when I could easily run in the morning? Because it’s cold and dark and sidewalks are not plowed on any average Michigan winter morning. Then again, the same applies for any average Michigan winter evening. Hummm…

Alas, when change presented me with an opportunity(i.e. run in the morning)—I ignored it. I tried to stick to my old ways and ended up frustrated because I was missing several of my weekly runs. Not to mention the fact that I tried to do track workouts in the winter. Yes, I’m stubborn (read: stupid) enough to try and do 400s, 600s, 800s, etc in winter. I’d try to find a clear length of sidewalk and sprint it…in winter. It didn’t work. I couldn’t find a clear length or I’d face horrific winds and sleet the few days I could find enough room to sprint. Oh, did I ever mention that I live extremely close to Michigan State University and that MSU has an indoor track open to the public? Did I ever use this indoor track during Boston training? Come on, you should know the answer to this!!!

So, while I never missed a long run, I never really fully trained adequately. And despite a goal of running Boston at a comfortable pace, I still had a crap-tastic race.

After Boston, I took several weeks off. I’d been training hard for over 16 months. I rested. I didn’t run or workout. Instead, I read. I prepared for the Redhead to move in. I slept late on weekends. I ate Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, dark chocolate Reese’s, and Cheez-Its. And I got out of running shape. But it was wonderful. Simply, my body needed the rest (but not so much Taco Bell).

When base training for Grand Rapids was supposed to begin in early June, I sorta did it. I’d maybe run once or twice during the week. Same problem, refusing to run in the morning and trying to force runs in late at night.

This all resulted in me arriving at the start of my Grand Rapids training at the below designated fitness level.

I ran Chicago 09 at 178lbs. I weighed in before GR training at 205lbs. 25 extra pounds makes a difference regarding running shape. My first several weeks of training were stuffed full of slower runs where I was easily winded. Sure, some of my speed still remained, but I wasn’t going to last for much longer than a few miles.

But our bodies love to get healthy. I began to eat better (read: limiting my TB intake and (and this is a big deal for me) when forced to eat out—even at a fast food place—ordering a salad without dressing). I never die from eating salads. A good change, but one I always institute while training.

If a tree can make an abrupt change, why not I?

But the biggest change was only possible with the support of the Redhead. Together, she has helped me become a morning runner. Yep, every run begins before 6:30a. I won’t lie, it sucks. Early morning running should only be reserved for long runs. Alas, now I run in the am. And I’ve managed to hit all of my runs this way. I’ve combined eating healthier with regularly working out and guess what—I’m getting back into good running shape. I’ve lost over 10lbs in 4 weeks; plus my speed and endurance are getting back to form. Imagine that!?!

Are my times what they were last year at this point in my training—no. But last year I had the benefit of running Bayshore and then Sunburst and then began Chicago training—so I had an excellent base going into Chicago 09. And the goal this year is to have an awesome Boston. Which means training as hard as possible for Grand Rapids and carrying that momentum (and the adjustments I have made/should have made last year) into training for the 115th running of the Boston Marathon.

But really, what does all of this mean. I think it goes to show a few important aspects of running. Initially, regardless of whether you run in Asics or barefoot, if running is going to remain a long-term partner in your life, then you are going to have to allow yourself the gift of adjusting change. Life will always find cleaver, if not outright inconvenient, ways to interrupt your ‘perfect training plan.’ You can fight it, or accept it and make the best possible adjustment you can. And not to discredit the individuals who pursue running streaks or those who have trained hard every week for 75 straight years…but I’m a firm believer your body needs rest.

Second, there is a beauty in accepting that you are not where you were before; and that it will take some time to get back there. Don’t all long distance runners accept that the prize is in the journey and not the destination? Whether it is an injury-induced refrain from running or a self-imposed month of gluttony, there is joy in rediscovering your stride. It is not courageous to set a PR every time; it is courageous to fail and decide to continue—knowing what sacrifices must be made in order to toe the line once more.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On a Roll

Rolls I like: Sushi rolls (especially spicy tuna); log rolling; foam rollers; Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China; cinnamon rolls. Them there are some good rolls.

Rolls I don’t like: barrel rolls while I’m in the plane; Rolls-Royce; Sylvester Stallone in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!; and rolling my ankle.

Half way through mile six on my 17M long run I took an awkward step, and rolled my left ankle.

The good, I’ve rolled many ankles. The bad, I know when it’s a serious roll. This is a ‘just below serious’ roll. But I'm optimistic this is not a miss-an-entire-week-of-training kind of injury.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things of Summer

We are surrounded by the Dog Days of Summer, but it seems more like a pack of cramp-inflicting, uber-sweat-inducing, make you beg for a sprinkler to coordinate with your run and allow a few brief drops of cool water to caress you days of summer. I personally blame Sirius.

But, I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to all runners living in the Southeaster and South-central parts of the country, who have to deal with 100+ temps today. I think it sucks to have 73 degrees and crazy humidity at 7am, while y'all are starting at 80+ at 6ish.

Sorry my running friends, sorry.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two Runners: One Abode (Dude Version)

or, Why I have Decorative Towels and a New Shower Curtain

Number of towels (and bathmats) in bathroom prior to the arrival of R = 5

Number of towels (and bathmats) in bathroom actually used = 5 (2 bathmats, 2 towels, one hand towel)

Number of towels (and bathmats) in bathroom now = 8

Number of towels (and bathmats) in bathroom actually used now= 4 (So help me understand, I have three more towels and somehow end up with one less towel to use?!?)

Average number of bananas prior to the arrival of R = 3

Current average number of bananas at any given time = 46

Number of clothes racks prior to arrival of R = 1

Number of clothes racks currently = 2 (one for clean clothes and one for dirty clothes because…oh I just give up on that one)

Number of runners who put sauce on pasta prior to the arrival of R = 1

Number of runners who now put sauce on pasta now = 1 (sure, she puts some parmesan cheese on it, but your pasts feels all naked and self-conscious…I just know it)

Average size of Body Glide container in apartment prior to the arrival of R = 2.5oz

Average size of Body Glide container now = 1.475oz (I didn’t know they made Body Glide in containers that small—if this isn’t instantly funny, do the math)

Average number of individuals in line waiting for bathroom prior to the arrival of R = 0

Average number of individuals in line waiting for bathroom now = 1 (how she always manages to get there before me is baffling—I mean I’m faster than she is…I think)

Number of times someone was there to encourage me to get out of bed and run prior to the arrival of R = 0

Number of times someone was there to encourage me to get out of bed and run now = at least 15

Number of times I’ve seen R while we are out on our own run = 2

Average amount of time spent on Maymyrun.com per person = 1 hour per week

Percent increase in happiness since the arrival of my best-est friend and amazing girlfriend = 1000% (even if I’m without the use of one extra towel)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Love Letter of Sorts

Dear Shower Curtain,

This may be the most difficult letter I’ve ever written. As I’m sure you’ve noticed there have been some changes around the homestead. There has been a lot more use of cleaning products, putting items away after they are used, and even a concerted effort to pick-up the unending supply of discarded arm hairs and nose hairs.

Can you believe we have been together for over a decade? Think about it, our relationship has lasted longer than presidential terms and an entire series of VH1’s I love the (insert decade of your choice). We’ve seen the conclusion of Dawson’s Creek, the entire series of Lost, and more baseball games than is worth counting. And through that time you have always been there for me. Hanging strong and proud. You never balked at when I disrobed, never flinched when I accidentally turned on the cold water first. Like a loyal and true friend you moved with me from home to home.

But our time has come to an end. Like Abbott and Costello, Bill and Ted, Tina and Ike, and Peanut Butter and Jelly; the curtain is descending. I’m sure you are going to be stunned into silence by this revelation, and that you may protest by hanging around lifelessly; all of these are to be expected. But this change is going to happen.

Not that it will mean much, but it’s not your fault. You’ve done nothing wrong. And, just between you and me, it isn’t of my choosing either. I know, I know, don’t cry. I can see the drips beading up on your liner right now. It’s, well…it’s complicated. See, the Redhead is moving in this weekend. I’m very excited about this change. I’m ecstatic. But she has suggested (read: demanded) that you go.

I pleaded for you. I begged. But she said, and I quote, “I hate it.” It’s not your fault. I swear. Only, please understand, mature adult relationships are complicated. Sometimes things become more than just stuff, but that transition isn’t always noticeable to everyone else. Sometimes a home means two people purchasing stuff as a symbol to the world, a manifesto so to speak, about what the relationship stands for. And I’m sure you did your best to make her feel comfortable; but when forced to chose, I have to let you go.

I’ll do my best to place you in a nice home. Maybe one with a big bathroom with two sinks and heated floor tiles. I’ll even try to come and visit as often as possible. But we both know we are going our separate ways.

So. Goodbye.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

(Belated) Boston Breakdown

Part I: Pre-Race

Briefly, I want to thank a few people who made my first Boston experience amazing. Initially, I’d like to thank Buck & Bunny (my parents) as well as Mooney & Thor (my sister and her husband) for making the trip to Bean Town (or is it Beantown?).

Next, I want to thank the B.R.A., all of whom were excellent and fun. I can understand why the Redhead and B.o.B. love them so much. I have a man crush on them from hereon out. Plus, they (as you will read later) gave me the hook-up of all hook-ups by letting me hang in the pre-race house. Yep, while others were standing around or plopping their legs on the schoolyard grounds, I had a comfortable home with no bathroom line to speak of. Jealous? You should be.

After arriving on Friday night and taking the long way to the hotel, the Redhead and I made our way to one of what would turn out to be many amazing restaurant recommendations from Failed Muffins. Then, although rightly stuffed, the Redhead found a Taco Bell (I did say it was Friday after all). So good. So full.

We awoke early Saturday to navigate the T and make our way to the expo. As Sun Runner calls it; ‘porn for runners.’ I bought a lot of stuff. Lots of stuff. What can I say, it was my first Boston. Generally, the expo was good, but not great. Very crowded and a poor layout. But it was still the Boston Marathon Expo. And one of the best things was seeing the older Boston Marathon jackets, from 1998 and such. Next we headed to Harvard. There, I demonstrated my massive intellect whilst making fun of Harvard kids by reminding them that their football team sucks and that Elle Woods dated Luke Wilson…yeah, the guy doing TV commercials now. Then we met up with Buck and Bunny for some fine Boston eating. Finally, exhausted, we went home.

Sunday I watched the Redhead destroy her 5K pr. But I’ll let her tell you about that. Then there was the successful blogger meet-up. It was awesome to meet so many runner/bloggers. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to spend as much time with as many of you as I would have liked; and I’m sorry. Shortly after the blogger brunch, we went to see Thor and Mooney for a quick hello.

Soon thereafter the Redhead and I joined the B.R.A. for a pre-marathon pasta dinner. There the fine members of the B.R.A. treated me as if I was one of their own. Something I’m sure they only did because of their profound admiration of the Redhead. They were so kind they didn’t even ask me why I had to excuse myself to the restroom 378 times.

No sooner had the plates been swept away than I was trying to get to sleep for my first Boston Marathon. Yay!!!

Part II: Race Day

Get on the bus Gus. Again, I would be lost without the B.R.A. Under the aegis of the B.R.A. I was able to avoid the massive lines for the plastic poop buckets and prepare for the race in a comfortable home which was right across the street from the athlete village. There is nothing like being surrounded by a 'one person deep' bathroom line and countless years of Boston running experience.

One thing you don’t know about until you are doing it is this, there is a bit of distance that must be covered from the athlete village to the stating line, maybe over half a mile. And it’s a little too crowded to really use it as a warm up—just a little something to store away. (My bus driver on the right)

Despite rain and cloudy weather up to that point, race morning was without a sun in the sky and 50 degrees at the start. Such running weather is ideal for most runners, but not for Spike. Spike prefers to run under Eeyore skies. The sun, unhindered by any clouds and streaking towards is apex, is not such a good thing for me to run a marathon under.

But I was there, toeing the line, and excited as all crap. Fighter jets flew overhead and we were off. I took it easy, didn’t get caught up with the rush down the first mile or the second mile. I was playing it smart, getting water at every mile. The sun remained a steady sentinel for the first half of the race.

As I was approaching the fabled Wellesley College, the amatory girls could be heard screaming like crazy. This part of the race was amazing, but I ran swiftly through the sea of sirens without stopping—my iPod serving as Odyssues' wax. Moreover, I knew my sweet reward awaited at the finish line.

Alas, despite the massive surge in adrenaline, it was around the half-way point where I had to take stock. I knew I had to slow down, or push forward and risk a disastrous result; also, I knew I was already beginning to cramp.

I slowed a bit, and cruised into the Newton Hill, where the cramps exploded at the first uphill. I pulled aside, tried to relax and stretch them out—but nothing worked. I started moving again and could run at a slow pace, but when I tried to push it, the calfs cramped up. I blame Nitmos.

This is where the weather and the hills bogged down my race, but not my spirits. I just kept smiling knowing Buck and Bunny were at the end of mile 22. I stopped to say hi, and continued to pick off the last few miles—making sure to walk through each water station and drink and entire cup of water (and sometimes some Gatorade).

When the legs cramped up, I walked a bit. I took the time to enjoy the entire experience and the crowd. The crowds were amazing everywhere, and even more so in Boston College. Nothing like drunken college fans ‘encouraging’ you on.

Finally, I turned the last corner and began my lookout for the Redhead—whom I noticed and kissed with great excitement. Then, I made my way down the last .2 miles (or so) and finished. Exhausted, battered, thrilled, and victorious.

I didn’t kill this course by any means, it was one of my slowest time I ever run; but I didn’t let the course kill me either. I took what I could from that day with the knowledge that I’ll be back again.