Thursday, June 30, 2011

You GET to Run


How many times have we encountered a running friend who, perhaps in the middle of a slump, or dealing with an injury or, god forbid, has to run in some slightly adverse conditions (and with these three criteria I think I have gotten every single one of us who has laced up shoes, myself included), who said they “HAVE to do X miles later today.”  I readily admit I used to be one of those runners.

To clarify, I use the past tense in describing myself as such not because I never experience the desire to sit on the couch and do nothing some days. Quite the contrary. As much as I love exercise and feeling the wind whipping around me, I unabashedly can state that if liposuction was free, I would probably run less.  
There are days I just do not have the intense desire to go for a run. I will simply bide my time, dressed in my shoes and shorts, just hoping to get another spam email telling me that I need a better mortgage so I can delete it and delay my run.  But I know one thing for certain and that is I do not HAVE to run.  No, dear sir or madam as the case may be, I GET to run.

The distinct difference between “have to” and “get to” comes from the fact that all around us there are people who would run any chance they could, but because of serious injuries or other circumstances, have been robbed of that blessing.  My own father was one of them (he passed away two years ago.) Crippled in a hunting accident before I was born, running was not an option for him.  I have no doubt, as much as he jokingly stated that my running feats are quite outlandish, he would have gladly joined me for one of those jaunts rather than continue to not have the choice to do so.

I am in no way saying we cannot have bad days and that our own sufferings and troubles need to always be compared to others who have it worse.  We are welcome to have our own down moments and lulls of appreciation as to the gifts we have. However, the next time you think about what workout you “have” to do, take just one second to realize how lucky you are that you “get” to do it.

Then go do it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Park City Tri Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 20th Edition 
292.7 miles raced, 5550 meters swam and 146.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Park City Sprint Tri
Place: Park City, UT     
Miles from home: 35 miles
Weather: 70 degrees; sunny


After the Boise 70.3, I took a vacation of sorts driving 1600 miles all over Idaho, Washington and Montana. This was hardly the way to recover properly from a 70.3 but this trip fit perfectly into my schedule. The weekend after the 70.3 I did not have to travel anywhere in the country so this allowed me to take my time getting home. I visited a plethora of cities I had never been to and met old friends for the first time. As long as I was back by Friday to attend the Park City Tri expo and then race Saturday morning, I could take my sweet time.

After a wonderful trip, I was still unsure, however, if I would even do the triathlon. The ridiculous chafing I had received under my biceps from the swim of the 70.3 had barely made any progression toward healing. I had no idea how I could possibly do 750 meters of swimming in a wetsuit with the abrasions I had.  And wetsuits would be needed as, like the cold water in Boise, the water temperature in Park City was around 56 degrees or so (possibly colder). 

On Friday morning I woke and saw that the ointment a friend have give to me had worked miracles during the night. While far from healed, the biceps were at least in a condition for me to think about participating. I would figure out exactly how I would keep the cuts covered later.  For now, I knew I could at least race. I put my bike on my bike rack and began the short trip to Park City.

Driving from Salt Lake to Park City I realized that we were easily going to be starting this race 2,000 feet higher than my apartment in Salt Lake. I admittingly had not even looked at what the course would be like until I got to the expo. I was in for a rude awakening.

As the expo wore on, it seemed there was a high attrition rate for the race as many were simply opting out of either the Sprint or Olympic distances. I was guessing it was the cool water temperature that turned so many away but one never knows. At the expo, I met many father/child combinations or families who were racing together and it warmed my heart. I had almost forgotten it was Father’s Day this weekend if only because things have been very hairy with my father’s health for the past few months and every day has been Father’s Day for me. I decided right then I would dedicate this race to my father and do everything I could to place in the top three, perhaps even win.

Race Day:

Sleeping in one’s own bed is a luxury that not many really grasp until they spend a great deal of time traveling. I do not care how comfortable a hotel bed is, being at home is a wonderful feeling. As such, even a 5 AM wake-up call was not too bad as I spent the previous night sleeping away in bliss.  I realized how much my life has changed in the past few years. Friday and Saturday nights are usually get-to-bed-early-nights instead of go-out-and-party nights. Weekends are meant for racing, not relaxing. Quite a change from previous life experiences.

As I drove from SLC to Park City again, I dipped through this one valley just about 5 miles from my destination. I always love going through here because it is so much colder than everywhere else. You can just watch your temperature gauge click down degree after degree in rapid succession. This morning’s temperature? 38 degrees. Ouch. By the time I got to the place where we would drop off our running gear and board the shuttles out to the Jordanelle Reservoir for the swim it was a oh-so-warm 48 degrees. I got into the bus furthest back and when the driver told me this would be the one that sat here the longest. I told him that was the plan. Also, please crank the heat as I am going to go back and sleep. I barely remember the bus moving until it stopped at the reservoir and we were kicked out.

It was slightly warmer here but I knew it did not matter much. The 56 degree water temperature was going to be cold no matter what temperature the air was around it.  As I slipped into my wetsuit I again kept my compression socks on, like I had at the Boise 70.3 last week.  First, they would add some warmth. Second they would allow me to run across rocky terrain when I exited the water.  Finally, I would not have to worry about putting socks on after getting out of the water. Win-win-win! Before too much longer it was time for all the men to line up to take a little dip.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swinging for the Fences - A Book Review

I don’t often (and I am not sure if I have ever) review non-running or exercise books here on my website, mostly because I read tons of books and have drawn the line in the sand as to only include those on exercise here.  However, I am making an exception today.

Swinging for the Fences: Choosing to Live an Extraordinary Life by Alex Montoya is that exception.  Ironically, even though I now Alex is a runner (I met him at the Rock n roll San Diego expo) and the book has a sports metaphor title, the book has very little to do with sports.  Sure, as a Notre Dame graduate (which I am still trying to figure out if I will forgive Alex for) he speaks about a meeting he had with Liu Holtz back in his college days.  But other than a few playground stories this is a book that deals with overcoming adversity and, well, swinging for the fences.

Overcoming adversity stories are a dime a dozen.  Why should you read this one? Well, because Alex is funny, writes very well and if you cannot be inspired by him, then you simply cannot be inspired.  Now, I have buried the lead here a bit but I think Alex would like that.  Most people would start off a story about Alex with my next sentence because that is the first most noticeable thing you can see about him. 
 
Alex was born with only one leg and no arms. 

When his parents realized that his native Colombia would not offer him the best opportunity and care possible they sacrificed much to get him to the US.  The rest is history.

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that Alex has come into my life.  We are trying to find a way to get him to my Drake well Pikermi to race but it appears his uber-busy schedule might make that impossible. Nevertheless, he is a huge inspiration.  Moreover, he writes a very good tale.  This is a book which should absolutely be dog-eared in your own collection from multiple readings.  Do yourself a favor and get a copy soon.

Thanks for being you, Alex.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Drake Well Pikermi


What in the heck is a Pikermi?  Well, allow me to quote from Team Pikermi’s website:

“A Pikermi is a running race of a distance of 13.1 miles, formerly known as a half marathon. Basically, the term Pikermi is used because of the route of the original "marathon" in Greece, which was a route from the town of Marathon to Athens - approximately 26.2 miles (the distance of a marathon). The town of Pikermi is about the mid-point between Marathon and Athens, therefore being a distance of about 13.1 miles.”

The obvious question is “Do we really need to pick nits here and rename this race distance?” The answer is yes.  Never has a race distance received so much disrespect.  A 5k is not half-10k and a 50 miler is not half-100miler.  Why should we demean the accomplishment of running a race of 13.1 miles by describing it as "only half" of something else? We shouldn’t.  And I am going to do my best to try to change that perception.

One way I have had the opportunity to help shape public opinion (other than this column) is with the races I developed for the Drake Well Marathon weekend. For those who do not know, the Drake Well Marathon and all its races are held in August in my hometown of Titusville, PA.  Originally created to assist me in running a certified marathon every single weekend n 2006, the marathon has expanded to include other races and will be having its 4th annual race here in 2011. The name comes from the first working oil well in history located just about one mile from the house I grew up in. And from here onward, the 13.1 race will no longer be called the Drake Well Half-Marathon but instead will be known as the Drake Well Pikermi. Ta-da!

With all but about a mile of the entire Pikermi being run alongside a flowing creek underneath a canopy of trees through the heart of the Oil Creek State Park, the race is quite idyllic.  Even though the entire course has barely 100 feet of elevation change, it is considered to be a toughie simply because it feels like you are running uphill both ways.  Why am I telling you this seemingly negative piece of information about our course?  Well, because we want no whiners at the Drake Well Pikermi. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

With the Drake Well Marathon and an all-new accompanying 5k, there are races for everyone, including being the first race to official call its 13.1 miles a Pikermi.  Join us in starting a tradition by refusing to allow your 13.1 miles be called “just” anything but what it is- a wonderful race.  There is no better way to start that tradition that August 21st, 2011. Registration for all races can be done HERE.

Got Oil?

Ironman 70.3 Boise Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 19th Edition 
289.6 miles raced, 4800 meters swam and 133.9 miles biked in 2011
Race:Ironman 70.3 Boise
Place: Boise, ID     
Miles from home: 340 miles
Weather: 70 degrees; sunny

The Ironman 70.3 Boise.

I have been looking forward to this race for the vast majority of this year. Now, looking forward to and being able to prepare the way I would like to (or should) are quite obviously two different things.  However, when I jumped into the brisk 48 degree water of Lucky Peak Reservoir last Saturday, the amount of training or lack thereof became immaterial; it was time to do an Ironman 70.3.

Pre-race:

I spent the two days prior to the 70.3 working with the Idaho Beef Council at the athlete expo. As the official protein sponsor of Ironman 70.3 Boise, the folks of the Idao Beef Council were wonderful to be around. So many fellow athletes, who are not only in absolute peak physical condition, but do so on diets enriched with lean beef, continually sang the praises of having beef in their diets. As I munched on delicious jerky in the beef booth, I was handing out nearly constant samples to others, many who said they would be using it during the actual event on Saturday.

With this being my first 70.3, I was experiencing the butterflies of excitement which I rarely feel anymore.  With the triathlon, there is so much more to take care of than with just running, say, a marathon.  The bike transition and the run transition were in different places which required athletes to drop what they needed for one event in one area and the other in a separate area. Being quite used to waking up, slipping on shoes, walking out of my hotel and beginning a race, this was a big change for me.


However, with my bike firmly in place serendipitously not too far from fellow Team Beef member and friend Daren Williams’ bike, I was as ready as I was going to be. We had tested out the water (with arms and legs) and definitely found it to be quite cold.  However, personally I did not think it would be that bad. Only time would tell.

After a fantastic steak dinner with the Council, Team Beef members and Idaho ranchers, I was ready to go to bed and actually get a decent night’s sleep for a change.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Interview with Philip McCarthy - American Record Holder

I first had the pleasure of meeting Phil McCarthy at the UltraCentric race in 2007 which was doubling as the US National Championship 24 Hour race.  I had a pretty awful day and while I only spoke to Phil briefly he offered me some wonderful words of encouragement and advice.

Two years later at the US National Championship 50k race, I had a much better day and this time got to speak with Phil more, mainly because I wasn't sulking away to a hotel to lick my wounds.  Finishing 10th overall, my 3:37 time allowed me to lead Phil through the first quarter lap by two seconds- and then he resoundingly whooped me the rest of the way (his time of 3:25 was probably a time he wasn't even all that happy with!)

When a few weeks ago he set a new 48 Hour American Record by running astonishing 257 miles in 48 hours (at the Sussex County Three Days at the Fair meet,  obliterating the event's previous record, set by John Geesler of upstate New York, who ran 248 miles in 2003.) I had to sit down with him and talk.  The following is our interview.

DR: Were you an athlete growing up?
PM: I was definitely not an athlete growing up - I was a short, skinny little weakling growing up in football country (Norfolk, Nebraska).  My thing was getting straight A's and playing piano.  By my junior year in high school, though I did get good in track, being a sprinter - 100M, 200M, 4x100 relay.

DR: Did you run?

PM:  I did run, and always enjoyed it.  Even as a young kid I remember being proud of running all the way home from a friend's house a few blocks away or home from school.

DR: Did you run competitively in college?
PM: I didn't do any organized running or races in college, just occasional running on my own, no more than three miles or so.

DR: What’s your favorite running distance?
PM: I don't know if I have one favorite distance.  If I had to chose one, I might actually say the half marathon.  It's a lot of fun, you can really test your speed, and still requires some endurance.  I've probably been most successful at 24 hour races, and now 48, and I do love running them generally, but I've had so many down moments in 24's that it can cause real anguish.

DR: What do you attribute your ability to run long distances so well to?
PM: I really don't know why I can run long distances well, I suppose genetics has a lot to do with it.  But even besides just long distances, fixed-time races are another story, and I seem to have the mental makeup to do well in those, possibly because I'm generally an introspective person, which I think helps me focus for these kind of races.  Also, there are quite a few fixed-time races put on here in the New York area, 6-hour, 12-hour for example, and other races run on short loop courses, so I get lots of practice running in circles.

DR: In your most recent record broken, at what point did you think it was going to fall?
PM: I was feeling pretty good and confident from the beginning of the race, but I also did at Across the Years, and there I ran into trouble at night and then halfway through.  So here when I got through the first night in good shape and on track, and the brace was working for my achilles after 20 hours or so, by the 24 or 25 hour point, I was feeling very confident about breaking the record.  But things can still happen, especially in the second night, and when it started raining (after about 41 hours, or 2 am) I was worried that it would throw me off, but I was still able to keep up the pace.  Of course, things can always still happen, but after 45 hours, and the sun came up the last time, I knew I had it.

DR: If there was more money in ultras, do you think that East Africans would dominate like they do in marathons?
PM: I have no idea.  But East Africans were a presence in marathons before big money, and I haven't seen that in ultras yet, so maybe not.

DR: What are some of your upcoming goals/races?

PM: . My upcoming races are the Back on My Feet 24 hour race in Philadelphia in July, the national championships in Cleveland in September, a couple others I'm thinking about.  I want to try to re-qualify for the US 24-hour team and hopefully have a really good race at the world championships.  My 24 hour PR was back in 2007, so I definitely want to get a new PR. 

I would not bet against him!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rock and Roll Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 18th Edition 
276.5 miles raced, 2900 meters swam and 77.9 miles biked in 2011
Race: Rock N Roll Half Marathon
Place: San Diego, CA      
Miles from home: 749 miles
Weather: 70 degrees; sunny

After I was introduced by John "The Penguin" Bingham to a raucous crowd at the Rock N Roll Expo, I had already met no less than 10 people who had moved me greatly while I was doing a book signing at the marathon expo.  I remembered after the first half of an hour of day one of the expo, I turned to the gentleman who were working with me at the booth and told them that this weekend already had one of those feels to it.  One where there were going to fun times, good people and just a general good vibe.

Personally, I had next to no apprehension.  Not only was I not doing the 26.2 miles on Sunday, but because this was my last training run before my first Ironman 70.3, I would not be running anywhere near full capacity. There was very little pressure on me and I was even more exuberant than usual, happy to give high fives and hugs. This race was simply calm before the storm - the storm coming  coming in Boise 6 days later in the form of 70.3 miles of new ground being broken.

By the time the second day ended, I knew I would be writing this race recap about people I had met during the weekend’s events. There was not very much I would have to say about my own race, as it being nothing more than a catered training run.  And given that in more than half of the miles I had to visit the bathroom (I have no idea why I was so unbelievably hydrated), other people’s stories would be much more fun to write about.

Race Day:

Given my proximity to the race start, I was able to get up not too long before the start of the race.  Staying at my good friend Nathan’s made this a much easier thing to deal with.  I heard traffic was a bear getting into the start and out of the finish.  But when you have a race with tens of thousands of people shutting down a major US city what can you expect?

As such, given my late waking, I was barely at the corral a minute or so before the race for the wheelchair racers was underway.  That meant, however,I did get to see this flash mob break out at the start.  Pretty fun stuff.

On Thursday prior to the race, I had done a book signing and a fun run at the Running Skirts flagship store in Encinitas and made a plethora of new friends.  One of these runners, named Kim, mentioned she wished to run right around 1:35.  I said that was the pace I was planning to run and if we found each other pre-race, I would happily guide her along.  As I crammed into my corral with 15,000 other people I knew the chances of that were slim. Therefore, today was going to be about enjoying the run and running along at a good enough clip to make me sweaty.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vermont City Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 17th Edition 
263.4 miles raced, 2900 meters swam and 77.9 miles biked in 2011
Race: Vermont City Marathon
Place: Burlington, VT       
Miles from home: 2281 miles
Weather: 70 degrees; humid, rainy



I have been itching to do the Vermont City Marathon since I first started getting into marathons.  I have heard nothing but good about the race, its people and the city of Burlington.  It gives me great pleasure to say that everything I heard was true. I would rank this marathon in the top 5 I have ever run.  And that comes from someone who is still sitting gingerly because of chafing from a hot and humid race day.  If even the cut-up and grouchy have good things to say about your race, that means you did a good job.

This was the weekend of little sleep which, truth be told, is virtually every weekend for me. But that is the nature of the chosen life I have. I will still lament the lack of sleep, however. As the guest of the Vermont Beef Council, I was giving an interview on a local television station.  With my “I Heart Beef” shirt on, I was questioned by the weatherperson why I ate Beef. I told him that I enjoyed it and it was good for me.  He then asked me how I knew the latter of these two opinions. 

As is the usual with me, when someone asks me a question I, in order to get to the actual root of their question, ask them a question in return. “How do you know it is not?” Taken aback he really did not give me an answer other than the standard ones I hear from many people (which more or less hold no water.) I think those who wish to question the beef industry are not expecting someone like me to either be an outspoken advocate for Beef or, not be a shrinking violet when it comes to the questions posed (See an exchange between myself and a facebook person HERE.)

At the expo doing a book signing, I was approached by three college boys who respectfully asked questions about why I was promoting Beef.  Soon, while the respectfulness continued, the collegiate desire to challenge “the man” poked out. While the discussion was lively, it remained clear that the public perception regarding many aspects of the beef industry is often misguided at best. But it was enjoyable to set the record straight and kept my mind off of the weather forecast for the race the next day. Even more enjoyable were the multitude of wonderful runners I got to spend time meeting.

Pre-race:

The morning of the race actually started off far better than forecasted. Heat advisory were given prior to the race as where those regarding storms. My girlfriend, Shannon, had dealt with such an atrocious traveling schedule just to get to Burlington that she was in no share to run what she had originally intended. The weather forecast was actually welcome because I knew it would keep both of us from trying to go for pre-race goals which were simply ludicrous given the adverse conditions.
Bussed down to the start from our hotel through idyllic Burlington, which wad been absolutely obliterated with lousy weather this winter and spring, we were surprised that the weather felt fairly decent.  With just a tinge of chill in the air even though it was already 70 degrees, a breeze picked up right before the start of the race giving us a nice and cooling feeling.  Then it began raining and immediately became muggy. Wonderful.

With people huddling on nearby porches severely testing the weight codes, the rain came down.  As the announcers urged runners to enter the corrals, some of us started to trickle down.  The rain abated slightly and before too long the wheelchair races were underway.  Promptly on time, to the sound of an airhorn, we were sent chasing after them.

First 10K: 6:46, 6:36, 6:45, 6:38, 6:44, 6:51

In the first 6 miles we were treated to both the rain coming to a stop and a couple of quick twists and turns through downtown Burlington before heading out on a lonely-esque stretch of closed highway.  However, this section only last for two miles out and back.  However, while this was a highway both sides were surrounded by lush forest and trees and not in any way a pavement jungle.  The fact the road was closed gave the impression that the whole city was shut down for the runners, which it more or less was.

Personally I was using this section to simply feel out what I had for the day.  One of many long term goals is to run a sub-3 hour marathon in every state.  One of my short term goals, however, is to do well in my upcoming 70.3 Ironman two weeks from race day.  While my miles in these first 6 were giving me a sub-3 hour pace, I could tell that chances were not good that I would be running a sub-3 overall. 

To the half (1:30:39): 6:56, 6:45, 7:10, 6:38, 7:04, 7:31, 7:21

There were only two real hills to worry about in this marathon and the first one was after mile 8.  After the turn-around slightly after the 10k mark, runners were treated to seeing the masses coming back at them.  I saw Shannon on the other side and gave her a shout. Even though the rain had stopped, we were both quite soaked. I had a feeling this was going to be a day with a lot of chafing.

I was pleased that the hill at 8 did not slow me down too much off of my desired pace and began running with a few other runners who seemed to be trying for the same goal.  The course passed underneath the start banner and we traced a portion of the course we had already run on.  “This looks vaguely familiar,” a runner jokingly said.  Granted it was where we had all just been 10 miles prior but it was such an old historic part out town that Take Two was not a bother whatsoever. Then the course took us down the brick Church Street, replete with men dressed as outrageous caricatures of women, bringing a smile to all the runners. 

Throughout this area the streets were packed with supporters who had only had to move a few hundred yards to see runners no less than four times.  Spectator-friendly often means runner-friendly as the extrinsic support of loud voices is never a bad thing to experience.

As we entered the 10th mile there was a long stretch of road that appeared to be a little desolate.  I wondered if the marathon’s course would be like so many where once the first 13 miles are done, marathoners can be left to their own devices.  However, any such fears were quickly wiped from my mind for as soon as we left this one mile stretch and began to weave in and out of parks and neighborhoods, the crowd presence again showed its wonderful vocal face.

Pushing toward mile 20: 7:16, 7:19, 7:45, 7:36, 7:34, 7:54, 7:44

If the constant crowd support was not enough, the fact that there was also a relay option for runners available meant runners were rarely running alone, no matter how fast they were running. The crowds were also not letting the recent deluge of rain in the Green Mountain State dampen their spirits.  As we finished the first half of the marathon and moved on near the shores of Lake Champlain, the flooding that had rocked many parts of the state was quite evident.  Also evident was the care and effort that went into making sure that this race would go on unimpeded as the organizers had quickly changed the course to avoid any of the flooding that had occurred.

The second and biggest hill of this course was around mile 15.  By now, the rain had completely stopped and the sun would break through the crowds here and there. Usually the metaphor used for a day becoming one people can enjoy, this often means for marathon runners that their day is about to get a lot more difficult.  Fortunately, the sun would stay hidden for most of the remainder of the race but is threat to peek out and boil runners was ever-present.

Beating of drums from about half of a mile away reached runners ears as they approached the big hill. Beating out a tempo to urge runners up the Battery Hill, Taiko style drummers lined the course.          Boston has its screaming girls at Wellesley and Vermont City has its drummers.  As I ran the slowest mile of the entire race, I know it would have been even slower if not for this wonderful touch.
Hitting the top of the hill I fell into step with one runner who I would later spent the better part of three miles running with.  Alex was his name and we shared the normal things that runners do some 20 miles into a hot and humid marathon: moaning and complaining.  When I mentioned I had rarely seen crowd support like this he said, “I wouldn’t know.  This is my first.” I told him he was doing awesome and wished him the absolute best.

Battling on toward the Finish: 7:46, 7:51, 7:46, 7:49, 7:35, 7:19, 1:35

The next three miles were tough for me.  I was feeling very uncomfortable from a case of chafing that I knew was going to be bad news bears and my energy was far from pouring out of me.  What was pouring out of me was sweat and at mile 22 I took off, and wrung my wicking Team Beef singlet for the fifth and final time.  It was as if I had dunked it in water each time it was so saturated.  But as quickly as I was sweating it out, the fantastic aid stations were pouring it back into me.  In fact, I counted no less than 7 unofficial aid stations on the course set up by people who were simply out to show the runners what a fantastic running city Burlington apparently is.  And these aid stations were not just a card table with six Dixie cups.  No, full length tables were set out with water, popsicles, bananas, oranges and everything else one could possible want. The popsicle handed to me by a kid at mile 22 probably saved my marathon.

When I decided right before the halfway point that a sub-3 wasn’t going to happen and today was a training run only (especially since I had an additional 9 miles post-race planned to get 35 miles on my 35th birthday) I didn’t expect to be bleeding time like I was here at the end.  Suddenly, with two miles to go I realized that I was going to have to hustle if I wanted to get a Boston Qualifying time here in Vermont.  Hustling, mind you, was about the last thing I wanted to do.

But hustle I did, with raw skin being rubbed more raw and tight muscles on the verge of cramping. On the flattest portion of the whole course, along a bicycle path we ran.  I would pick one runner ahead of me and pass him looking ahead to the next runner to make roadkill.  Nothing against them and honestly whether I passed them or not meant little.  I did not care about my standing in the race; I only cared about my time. However, pass many I did and soon the end was in sight.  To throngs of crowds cheering us on, and both Tim Bomba and Bart Yasso announcing, I was able to hold myself together just long enough to eke out my last 3:10 marathon as a 34 year old runner.

In 101st place, my 3:10:34 in my 130th marathon was hardly my fastest (it was, in fact, only my 63rd fastest) but as I said to Alex 6 miles earlier, the only marathon that really matters is the one you are currently running. 

My 9 miles post-race did not happen.  Exhaustion, humidity and the fact that Shannon and I completely lost each other post-race, requiring us to spend the better part of two hours looking for each other, guaranteed I would have no time to add any additional miles prior to catching my flight home. Instead, on my actual 35th birthday, I decided to go for a 35 mile bike ride instead.  Hardly any great distance but for me, it was the furthest I had ever ridden at one point.

And that is really what life is about – pushing yourself to go further than you have ever gone.  Not anyone else but yourself.  The competition within is greater than what any other person or group can ever hope to compete with. For the people of Burlington, I say thank you for such a wonderful race.   

To myself, I say “Let’s go find out what else you can do.”