Monday, August 31, 2009

93.9 miles

I don't even have enough fingers to count the close friends who have run 93.9 miles (or more) in one day. Unfortunately, for me, that equals the total mileage for the month of August 2009. Since I have been keeping track of my mileage, only in November of 2006, when I was running marathons 44-48 of the year, have I even come close to that few miles. My 114.8 miles that month only came on 8 runs (4 marathons and 4 two mile runs) too. But that what happens when you take a nose dive over Schwinnie Cooper.

But the bright side of things is that I am back to running. Sore, feeling supremely out-of-shape and wishing things did hurt, but running. Only twelve times in a month where I could have been getting majorly in shape I laced up my shoes with 28% of my total monthly mileage coming from Pikes Peak Marathon. And two of those times were today! (Ironically, in June, 36% of my monthly mileage came on one day as well at the Sawtooth Relay. Hmmmm).

But on a day when I earlier posted about Erik Skaggs going to the hospital I am happy to be running at all. Which leads me to an Erik update. Apparently he has been released from the hospital and while he is not completely out of the woods yet, looks like he will do just fine *fingers crossed*

And given that my posting about Erik was one of my most viewed blog postings ever, that just goes to show you what a tight knit group runners are. In fact, my mother added in an email today:

"I also made a note of Erik's situation and address....if everyone reading your blog sent $20.00 and a get well card, the man would be out of financial worries soon.....and have enough reading for a day or so !!!

Will do my part as soon as I send this to you.

Love ya, mommyR"

Even runners' moms are good people. :)

Here's to a super speedy recovery, Erik!

Help for Erik Skaggs

If you run marathons and ultras and don't know who Erik Skaggs is, you should. While his brother Kyle is best know for absolutely obliterating the course record of the 100 mile Hardrock race (a race so difficult it makes me cringe to even think about it - and I don't cringe. Seriously, it has 33,000' total elevation gain, 11,186' average elevation, low point 7,680' at Ouray, high point 14,048' at Handies Peak.) Erik is no slouch himself in ultrarunning.

Erik most recently bested the course record at the Where's Waldo 100k by nearly an hour! Unfortunately, about a day or so after the race, Erik began experiencing pain, was admitted to the hospital and appears to have suffered renal failure (kidneys). While currently in good spirits, (reports have him timing splits on laps around the hospital wing) he may be in for a battle ahead.

Taken from the Rogue Valley Runners website:

"Many friends throughout the ultrarunning community have already asked how they can help. One of Erik’s biggest concerns is the mounting medical bill. Erik does not have health insurance. He may be eligible for some assistance through his membership with USA Track and Field, but will no doubt require monies for the deductible and for the expected costs well above the coverage.

An Ashland runner and friend of Erik’s has opened a bank account at Umpqua Bank in Ashland, Oregon to receive donations that will be used to help defray these medical expenses. You can contribute by sending a check to Umpqua Bank, 250 N. Pioneer Street, Ashland, OR 97520 made out to the “Erik Skaggs Medical Fund.” Any assistance that you could provide would be much appreciated by Erik. Please note that the Fund name should be on the outside of the envelope."

In addition, cards can be sent to Rogue Valley Runners c/o Erik Skaggs, 161 E. Main St. Ashland, OR 97520.

Keep Erik in your thoughts and well-wishes as updates are posted HERE. Also, while I no doubt am sure that if Erik had thought he was in danger of hurting himself, he would have slowed down, remember that we all must listen to your bodies. There is a difference between discomfort and pain. Pain is an indicator. If you have it, listen to it.

Run safely, friends.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The First Run Back

Ever since I took a tumble over my handlebars a few weeks ago, I have been wondering not only when I would run again but also if the time off would heal some nagging other injuries as well. And while most of my energy has been spent on fixing the immediate injury, the AC separation in my shoulder, it was the bruised ribs and hip sustained on my dirt dive on Pikes Peak which seem to have the more lingering painful side effects.

Regardless of all of this, I have felt like I could run with very little pain in my shoulder for close to a week now. And as Friday evening ended, and I was feeling more and more lethargic, I decided it was time to try out the running legs. Part of it was the energy I received from the book signings the last two days at Shu's Idaho Running Company, part was my general antsiness and part was watching Spirit of the Marathon.

Whatever the reason, while I was a little disappointed that my achilles had not healed in the few weeks of rest I had given it, I was quite pleased that my shoulder felt relatively good and my ribs only hurt so-so. What was amazing to me was how quickly I had lost some of my physical fitness. sure it should come back quickly as I build my running back up, but just a few weeks off had set me back a great deal. This is the perfect example of why we, as humans, need to continue staying fit every day. This does not mean we must be working out at the gym or ding wind sprints or playing 4 hours of basketball each and every day. Rather it means we must do something physically active, anything physically active, every day. As we grow to be a much more sedentary society with each passing year, where the vast majority of us only get exercise when we set time aside to do so (because of cars and luxuries and convenience of the modern age in America) we must do exactly that: set time aside to be fit.

There are no such excuses as "I do not have the time." Yes, you do. You must MAKE the time. If that means 20 less minutes of sleep so you can go briskly walk a mile and a half, then so be it. The sleep you are still getting will be much better for you because of the exercise you are adding to your life. Exercise is absolutely critical to our existence.

I know, what do I know right? I get questions all the time from people who doubt the validity of my claims. I guess my own personal life experiences and vast amount of exercise experiments mean nothing. That's OK. You needn't trust me. Trust the Mayo Clinic and their study on the Seven Benefits of Regular Exercise.

So me or Mayo, it doesn't mater. If you are physically able to do so, get out there and do something active today. Little by little we can solve so many of the world's problems by tackling our own health (mental and physical) issues first.

And by the way, tell someone today, who you may not have told in a long time, that you love them. And mean it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to Boise!

In April I made my first ever trip to the state of Idaho, with a book signing at one of the premiere running stores in the area: Shu's! And you needn't take my word on it as whenever I mention Shu's both Bill Rodgers and Dick Beardsley tell me to give my best to the owner. That's a ring endorsement if I have ever heard one!

I too showed my support for Shu's (and they for me), when I ran the 62 mile Sawtooth Relay as a solo runner back in June. Wearing his trademark socks, hat and shirt for a vast majority of my run I bested 70 of the nearly 300 teams of 6 running the near 100k!

As such, I am quite pleased to be back at Shu's today to be signing copies of See Dane Run once again at his Idaho Running Company store. While the original intention was also to lead one of his many Thursday night runs, I may have to sit this one out given my recent shoulder injury. Fortunately, it is not my signing hand, so if you are in the area on Thursday, come on down to Shu's!

On Saturday, I follow-up my signing at Shu's by heading over to See Jane Run (not a typo but a similarly named store to my book) to sign copies of my book from noon until 5 PM.

As SJR will also be having one of their biggest sales of the year, there is no better time to get your new fall gear, stock up on whatever it is you need to get out the door running and get your own copy of See Dane Run.

As Keli C. from Thunder Bay Ontario says:
"Your book - I have just finished it - I enjoyed it completely. I was wishing I was on this journey with you. It sounds like an amazing thing." I have learned to never argue with people from cities that have the word Thunder in it. Just a personal choice.

See you in the Gem State!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anti Monkey Butt Powder

The titles of this posting seems to be a joke but I guarantee you I am 100% serious. Well, maybe 97%. But this product truly does exist and continuing with my Can't-Run-So-I-Am-Catching-Up-On-Product-Reviews section I bring you my review of Anti Monkey Butt Powder.

As I have mentioned on a variety of occasions, when I workout, run, think about working out or watch other people workout, I sweat. A great deal. I am told it is healthy and it sure makes me feel like I have done a great bit of hard effort but the fact remains I sweat. Sweating leads to chafing and over a marathon distance or longer, chafing is BAD.

Fortunately, upon my move from the greater Washington DC area to Salt Lake City, one of the wonderful things I learned about the high desert climate was the low humidity. It can somehow make a 90 degree day very bearable as rivulets of sweat are no longer coursing down my body the moment I step outside. As such, I have been fortunate enough to not need to worry about chafing when I am home. But if you just look to the sidebar of my blog here, you can see I am not home that often. And Many times I am in places with lots of humidity.

I received some Anti Monkey Butt Powder in the mail from the kind folks at the company the day I got home after spending the 4th of July in Florida. I could have used it down there no doubt! But my racing schedule was rather lax and my travel schedule much greater in July and August so I did not really get a chance to put it to good testing use.

When I went to Pikes Peak to, I thought, ONLY do the expo, for whatever reason I also packed the Anti Monkey Butt Powder. (I am enjoying typing that by the way.) I must have somehow known I was going to run the marathon. Now, Pikes Peak has very little humidity as well so I knew there was not going to be much need to talc up my lower regions. However, Pikes Peak has seven thousand feet of downhill running and I know that I have a tendency to develop hotspots when I run such steep downhills.

So, into the shoes my AMBP(what the cool kids call it) went. And in spite of the fact that I looked like I had been hit by shrapnel when I finished the race, one thing that I didn't have a problem with were blisters from sweaty feet and slippage.

Would I need to do a little more field-testing before I can say that it will cure cancer? Sure. But if it can stand up to the rigors of a 180 pound man, going down the side of a mountain with major hitch in my giddyup because of the tumble I took at mile 15 I would have to say that it will help you out as well!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

POM Wonderful

One of the byproducts of being laid up from running is that I can finally get around to speaking about some of the products that I have tried recently. First on that list is POM Wonderful.

First and absolutely foremost, ANY product which is fun and audacious enough to have a flash-type animation of its product talk about my prostate, gets at least a second look.

I am sure you have all seen the POM bottles out there. Sold in distinctive double bulb-shaped clear plastic bottles, they are hard to miss. And when I received a sample of the product with its health benefits talking not only about how it will help problems not only with the prostate but also erectile dysfunction, I was curious if I was supposed to drink this stuff or just pour it directly on my nether-regions.

I am skeptical of most products. When told I need to do something to run faster or do better, I simply point to how I have not done any of those things and continue to run faster and do better in spite of a vast volume of marathons in a short period of time (which I, ironically, was told would be detrimental to my running faster or doing better.) However, regardless of what POM would do to my boy parts, I knew it was high in antioxidants, and even with as little research I have done into eating healthy (a former girlfriend pointed out I mostly eat like a 5th grader), I know that antioxidants are good for you. Just what the doctor ordered, right POM?

You can read all you want about POM's research and clinical references on your own time. I am not hear to dispute or confirm any of those. And unfortunately, because I am not running it is a little hard for me to tell whether POM is making me feel better or heal more quickly or run faster. However, I can say that the stuff tastes pretty darn good (if maybe just a tad too sharp for my 5th grade eating habit tongue) and if it is made of 100% pomegranate juice, then it must be good for you as well.

A little sidenote I was not aware of: The "wonderful" part is not just arrogance on POM's part. apparently, there is a variety of pomegranate that is called "wonderful" not unlike "concord" grape juice. Hmmm. Will it cure cancer? I have no idea. Does it have a nice bitey taste to it and is jammed full of all the things your body needs? I would have to say yes!

Maybe POM does deserve its cape.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Long Beach International City Bank Marathon

As fall rapidly approaches (really?!), the marathon schedule begins to fill! Over the next few days I will be mentioning the races that I will be running or presenting at as they are confirmed. First off, I will be spending mid-October in beautiful Southern California as I will be presenting and running at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon.

I never thought the day would come where things celebrating their 25th anniversary would be 8 years younger than me.

Celebrating its 25th year, the race has asked me to be a presenter at its Health and Fitness expo. With a race course as unbelievably flat and fast as this, (winning times are often in the 2:TEEN range!) I could not pass up. I mean, look at this elevation profile!

Gotta love the comparison to Boston!

Helmed by Bob Seagren, one of America's greatest pole vaulters ever, the Long Beach Marathon is sure to be a treat for all as we run up and down the Pacific Shoreline come this October.

I hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Come on Nebraska!

Was checking out my page views today for my blog and I noticed in the last week, no one from Nebraska had looked at the DaneGer Zone. I am hurt! This couldn't be because after the Cornhuskers stole the National Football championship from Penn State following the 1994 season I wore a Nuck Febraska t-shirt around for a whole week is it? (I still own that shirt and WILL whip it out soon. Don't tempt me!)

Spending the weekend healing and signing books at the Park City Marathon expo. Going to try and track down someone from Nebraska simply so they will look at my site. Details later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grand Teton Races

While I was able to complete my goal of running my 100th marathon at the Pikes Peak Marathon this last weekend, I did so by paying a price. Fortunately the tumble I took did not injure my already separated shoulder any more than it already was. Unfortunately, I have laid the smackdown not only on my knee and ankle but also my ribs and my hip. Suffice it to say, I am hurting.
To clear up confusion, this is my hip. Ouch, huh?

As such, a re-evaluation of plans was in store. Speaking with my friend, Lisa Smith-Batchen, I was honored when she invited me to come to her weekend of racing in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming.

Prior to my injury I was supposed to be visiting here this week anyway and we figured there was no better time to reschedule them to have me come up on the Labor Day weekend to help kick off a fantastic series of races: The Grand Teton Races!

In its 4th year, all told this weekend of racing has something for everyone: Kids races, a 10k, a trail marathon, a 50 mile race and a 100 mile race. And if you aren't a runner (and I have to say I am flattered you are reading this!) then simply head over to the Grand Targhee Resort for a massage or a swim or ride the chair lift to the top of Fred's mountain!

I will not be racing, or better yet, I SHOULD not be racing. A little over two weeks from today, I am sure that I will be in no shape to even think about running. And even if I will be healed I will be in no shape to tackle to races being put on. Instead, I will be in the Grand Teton Mountains to sign copies of See Dane Run for all of the runners there. I will also be scoping out the races as I fully intend to be there next year and give the winners a run for their money.

Now, the only question which remains is will I be doing the marathon, the 50 miler or the century? Hmm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Charity Chaser - Mississippi Blues Marathon

I am excited to announce that I will be once again starting at the absolute back of the pack and then chasing down runners to benefit charity. This time, it will be at the Mississippi Blues Marathon, in Jackson Mississippi.

You may recall from an earlier blog that I started this year off in Jackson, making not only my first ever marathon in Mississippi but first ever trip to the Magnolia State. While we had uncharacteristically humid weather for the race, even for January, the wise runner looks past weather to rate a course and how it is run. Having now been involved with actually running races, designing courses and also directing marathons, I do my best to see a race from all angles. From the very beginning I could see the MS Blues Marathon people want to make this weekend fun and enjoyable for every single runner there.

As such, when I was asked back to take my Charity Chaser role to Jackson, I jumped at the chance. We are working out the details about how my legs will benefit those in this wonderful state but I could not hold off speaking about how excited I am that I will once again be heading South come January. An on top of everything else, I get to once again spend time with my friend Bill Rodgers.

More details will be posted as they are confirmed, but I hope to see all of you down in Jackson this January! Should be a fantastic time!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pikes Peak Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 18th Edition
452.9 miles raced in 2009

Race: Pikes Peak Marathon
Place: Manitou Springs, CO
Miles from home: 603 miles
Weather: 40-70s; clear skies

This is definitely not how I thought this was going to go!

For a couple of reasons, this recap will not have the same girth that others have had. First of all, after the accident I had on Wednesday where my shoulder was severely separated, typing is not the easiest thing in the world. Second, a great deal of the lessons learned from this race are going into my second book, currently being written. Third, for my longest marathon time ever, I might as well write one of my shortest recaps.

First things first, after the accident on Wednesday, I had all but decided I was not going to be running the race. My decision to compare the difficulty of the marathon at Pikes Peak to Leadville's could only really be done if I was healthy for both. But after a confluence of a great deal of events, I realized I could probably still walk the uphill to the top and jog down safely and get my 100th marathon in the books. The time would be atrocious but the experience would be worth it. It was not until race morning that I actually decided to do it.

I was fortunate enough to have as my hosts, Eric and Sonia Seremet. Sonia is from my hometown of Titusville and during Fiddy2, when I ran the Estes Park Marathon, Eric was also a competitor there (and beat me as well!) When Sonia realized they would be in Titusville in time to run the Drake Well Marathon around the track in 2006, she signed Eric up for the race (but not herself, Eric says with shock.) This was a great opportunity to catch up with them and see what they were up to. Sonia is about to give birth and itching to get running again and Eric took the year off from competitive racing to recharge his batteries and begin a new job. A 6-time finisher of the Leadville 100, I have no doubt that he will have the bug again soon.

Sometime on Saturday, I began leaning towards running the race. The actual act of running did not hurt too much and as long as my arm did not swing, I wasn't in too much pain. I had been planning to run Pikes Peak as my 100th for quite sometime and when I realized that there really was no better way to celebrate this milestone, I decided I might as well do it.

So after hitting a few book stores in Colorado Springs to deliver some signed copies of See Dane Run, I went back to my bed and prepped myself for the run. I had to borrow shorts from Eric as I had not brought anything to run in. Fortunately, I was wearing a new pair of Spira trail shoes, which had been sent to me just for this occasion (my 100th marathon) and I felt I might as well wear them to the Peak, even if I wasn't going to run. They were comfortable enough to just wear around while I walked, something I think few trail shoes can boast!

As I was wearing my ROAD I shirt for the expo, I decided no better way to continue to promote how safe us runners need to be then to wear it up to the top of the Peak!

Race morning

So I am clad in a rather ragtag bunch of clothing but I am going for no beauty contest. I am here to finish. The best surprise of the weekend came that morning. Of my 99 previous marathons, I have probably had friends at most of them in one form or another. But I am usually traveling alone and don't really have someone there FOR me. Well, for my 100th lifetime marathon my friend Allison surprised me by flying in to make sure I had someone there to celebrate with. Having bought her ticket prior to my accident on Wednesday, she debated not coming but must have known I was going to run anyway. As I am quite used to celebrating milestones by myself, I was quite prepared to do this one in the same fashion. But to have such a good friend there to share things with, I wanted to thank her here specifically. You rock.

Moments before the start, I was calm. They announced that this would be my 100th marathon over the loud speakers and I would be doing it in spite of being hit by a car. Many on hand had stopped by my booth during the past two days and had heard my story, including me saying I probably was not going to run. Loud cheers went up and I smiled.

The gun was fired and away we went.

First Aid Station: Ruxton (1.65 miles): Time to aid station: 19:50
I knew that weather conditions at the top could be far more brutal than the balmy conditions at the start, so I decided to wear a jacket at the start and take it off as needed. Plus, the one dangling arm of the jacket would make other runners more cognizant of my injury and hopefully less inclined to jar me.

After a bit of slow running just to get a feel of what the shoulder was going to be like, I settled into a nice easy pace. My breathing was more labored than I thought it would be at only 7,000 feet but I wasn't here to race. When we hit the first aid station I was pleased with the pace so far and was making lots of friends.

Second Aid Station: (2.8 miles): Time to aid station: 20:24

The switchbacks began here. Footing was great and there was very plenty of walk/jogging going on. I laughed internally as people pumped their arms and tried to run and I walked along behind them at the same pace. People were mostly courtesy with their "on your lefts" and other trail type etiquette. Again, I was pleased with my pacing here and thought maybe a 3:15 summit time would be possible.

Third Aid Station: No Name Creek (4.3 miles): Time to aid station: 25:40

When you are hiking up pretty steep stuff and not moving very fast, you make friends with those around you. Bad jokes are hilarious at high elevation and my stating that, by definition, "No Name Creek" actually gives the creek a name went over smashingly. Every once in a while there would be the smallest of downhills in this section and I would jog past those who were doing the same. This was the first twinge of anger that my accident had taken away my ability to run this course as, even with one arm wrapped tightly against my body, I could still motor when I needed to.

Fourth Aid Station: Bob's Road (5.3 miles): Time to aid station: 17:23

On my way to Bob's Road, I befriended Joyce McKelvey. Joyce was 64 years old with eyes as clear as the sky above our heads. She was just a joy to be around and we would switch places on the trail as I would take the turn to walk and she would march right on by. After a few more miles I would not see Joyce for the rest of the day (until the descent) but she finished in 7:38:18, beating 38% of the field!

Fifth Aid Station: Barr Camp (7.6 miles): Time to aid station: 31:16

Barr Camp is a big aid station. You must make it to here before 3 hours (?!) into the course or you are turned back. We made it in 1:54:36. And for the first time I realized that my arm was wound TOO tightly around my chest and was making my breathing extremely difficult. As I wasn't really using my arm at all, I loosened the bandage and instantly had a rush of oxygen.

 A woman had passed me in this section and after speaking briefly, began to pass runner after runner. With my new found O2, I decided to fall in behind her and do the same.

Sixth Aid Station: A Frame (10.2 miles): Time to aid station: 46:30

As we neared the treeline, Gina (the aforementioned runner who was actually doing the double: having completed the Ascent to the top the day before and now doing the marathon!) and I kept knocking off runners. I could not wait to get to the top and turn around. I might actually break 6 hours for the race (yes, SIX) once we got rolling on the descent.

Right after leaving the aid station and climbing onto what really looked like the mountain for the first time, Matt Carpenter, the semi-surly legendary runner and multiple winner of this race came flying by. He had made it to the top in 2:12. Unbelievable.

Seventh Aid Station: Cirque (11.9): Time to aid station: 45:33

I had now more or less fallen in lock step with the same runners. The footing had gone from wonderful to more or less horrific and there was little to no way to pass. The below picture illustrates one of the better portions of the trail.

Here the race became mush more dangerous. At my pace a vast majority of runners were either approaching the top or coming down from it. And flush with energy and oxygen, some were flying. You did the best you could to either lean against a rock or step out of the way. Unfortunately, my best was not enough. One runner ran full tilt into my shoulder. Searing white hot pain shot through my body. Cussing so loud I think I woke the mountain, I dropped into a sitting/leaning position against the nearest rock. Runners around me, who had become quite familiar with my plight, all stopped to see if they could help. I waved them all on and stood there for a full 90 seconds until the pain ebbed.

It was time to get to the top.

Summit (13.32): Time to aid station: 34:00

You can see the treacherous footing as you approached the slightly more than halfway point. And once you got there, there was no time to rest (or room for it). I found this to be a little disconcerting as I figured I was not the only one who need to collect their wits before moving forward. Plus, I needed to rewrap my ace bandage before heading back down.

I was also surprised that we weren't, exactly, at the top. As you can see from below, another 50 yards of trail or so led to the actual "top". Not quite sure why we did not go there.

My time to get to 13.32 miles? 4:01:03. Oy.

The Descent

Here is where my real story begins.

I immediately felt wonderful bounding down the hills. Still being extremely cautious of my arm, and with no left side stabilization, I was nonetheless chomping at the bit to run. After getting back down to Cirque in less than half the time it took to get up to the Summit from that point, I took advantage of a plethora of runners refilling their stomachs and zoomed by into some semi-empty trail.

A little less than half of a mile away, the trail opened even more. I knew in like a mile, the footing would be even better and I could really make some time. A 2-hour descent was completely possible.

Then a runner in front of me came to a dead stop. I could not. My foot caught on a stone and I went flying. Crashing down on my left side I buried my separated shoulder into the trail. I thought I had felt pain earlier when the runner had ran into me. No, this was pain. All I could think about was that I had done the hardest parts of the race and now I was going to have to be medivac-ed out. As runners converged on me, the looks on their face were sheer horror. My right hand quickly went to my shoulder. No broken collarbone. Thank God. I felt the separation to see if anything was protruding or smashed. Nothing. In fact, after the initial surge of  pain, I was feeling pretty decent. I thrust my right hand into the air and asked to be helped up. A person calling the medics on the walkie-talkie asked if I was OK. I said I thought I was and took a step.

Well, the reason I probably did not hurt my shoulder more is because my hip apparently took the brunt of the fall. I got all jiggly legged and realized I had 11 more miles to go with 6,000 feet of total descent and a leg that wasn't working. You have got to be kidding me!

I began to walk, Slowly. I kept going until I could bear that pain and then I jogged gingerly. Soon I was moving forward even more. At the next aid station the notified medic pulled me aside. They asked about my shoulder. I told them to check my hip. Only in this circumstances can one man ask another to get behind him, put his hands on his hips, feel him up and down and not have the slightest twinge or feeling weird. When he pronounced I was just cut up a bit and everything seemed normal, I said "thanks!" and left before they could pull me out of the race.

As I approached the treeline, I was beginning to manage the pain more and more. I knew what I could and could not do. I cursed as what could have easily been 8 minute miles were closer to 11 minute miles as I carefully picked my way down the path. I took one last look at the Peak behind me.

I would be remiss to mention that I took another tumble with about 7 miles to go. This time I was fortunate enough to flip over, land on my right side, do a somersault and be back on my feet in about 2 seconds. The runner behind me said: "That was the coolest thing I have ever seen!" It really left me with no more pain but a renewed sense of scrutiny to how fast I should be running. Obviously my left hip and knee were just not going to be able to keep up with the energy and pace I desired to maintain without further incident. I just wanted off the mountain!

Each aid station passed by in a blur as I grabbed a drink, said thanks to everyone and shooed away the EMT people who were just awesome but not people I wanted to see anywhere near me on the odd chance they would find out how much pain I was in and say I could not go on. Can't say enough about how great both they and the volunteers were. Wonderful people.

The next few miles began to feel real good. With 5 miles to go, I thought I might not break 7 hours. At one point my watch had been stopped and I wasn't sure for how long. As such,  I did not know that the official race time was but I knew I was running with renewed vigor and it would be close.

As each mile slipped by I was still running gingerly with my eyes glued to the trail but I knew I was picking up speed. I was passing a ton of runners, all who were gracious enough to step aside when they heard my footsteps and then give a great little cheer when they realized I was "that guy." For them to use any energy at this point on anyone but themselves shows what great people runners are.

Finally off the mountain and onto the last mile of the course on the streets of Manitou Springs, I gritted my teeth and sped forward.

I made it through in 6:42:53. 100 marathons down. I joked all weekend how the number 52 is everywhere. I saw it all the time during Fiddy2 and I see it all the time now. And i think they were a little slow with their trigger finger because my time should have been 52 seconds. :)

But now, I have 100 marathons done. My total cumulative time for all 100 marathons is 332:52:26. There is that darn 52 again. And the 26 seconds thrown at the end to to signify my love of marathons, apparently. Now the healing begins.

Already today, just one day after that marathon, my knee and hip are feeling exponentially better. My shoulder is sore as heck but somehow feels a little better than it did a few days ago. I will somehow force myself to not exercise the next few weeks. I need to practice what I preach with regards to restraint and being smart with your body. But I will be back soon. Until then, I have the memories of having taken on adversity and succeeded. Someone told me that I was like the Energizer Bunny. Perhaps I do keep going.

I know no other way to live.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Unexpected

When many people tell me that they are impressed with my 52 Marathons in 2006, I try to impress upon them that one of the greatest factors in the completion of this task was as great deal of preparation and a lot of luck. Not stepping off the curb and twisting my ankle was luck. Being able to stay virtually cold-free was good genes and proper hygiene but also a lot of luck. The list goes on and on.

For example, not getting hit by a car when doing a rather routine cycling excursion would be one of those things that never happened because of preparation. I avoided as many potentially hazardous situations as possible in 2006. With less stress involved these days with regards to worrying about the everyday things, and an aching Achilles that forced me to decided to not run a lick this week prior to my 100th lifetime marathon, I was a little less fearful what could happen to me if I went for a bike ride.

Unfortunately, one turned car in my path and one Grade III acromioclavicular joint separation later, and it looks like my 100th Lifetime Marathon may not happen this weekend. Ironically, the link above states "Football players and cyclists who fall over the handlebars are often subject to AC separations." If I had only read the website.

So now, I am hoping for a Joan Benoit Samuelson-esque recovery (where she had knee surgery and 17 days later won the Olynmpic Trials on her way to the first ever gold Medal in the women's Olympics) in order to run Pikes Peak 84 hours from now.

Will I run if it will be detrimental to my health? No. Will I run if it will just hurt like hell? Probably. We will just have to see what the next 3 plus days hold for me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drake Well Marathon Recap

Well, this is different. Instead of reporting on my 100th Marathon run, I am reporting on my 2nd marathon run as the sole race director - The ROAD ID Drake Well Marathon.

Sure there were glitches and things that could have been better. The weather, for example, was not only unusually warm and muggy, even for August in NW Pennsylvania but it was a huge shift from the days leading up to the race. If humidity can be more than 100%, we had it. but the fact that the sun stayed away until the very last finisher was close the the line at least made it not horrible.

A torrential downpour removed all of the course markings at 3 AM which had me me out at 4 AM with cans of orange marking painting and a flashlight, making sure that everything was still properly marked.

A table we set out for volunteers to place drinks on at the first aid station went missing. In its place a Red SUV, set (not unlike the ones in the below picture) in a ditch on the side of the road had taken its place somewhere between midnight and 4 AM when I had been out on the course.

Fortunately, there was no one inside, no signs of injury and the police were called by me after wondering if I should just wait another hour until all the runners got past mile 2 (where this aid station was) before my call to the police potentially had the road closed and the marathon scrapped. Below is the real picture to show I wasn't lying.

I am still sorting through all the emails, both to my personal account from friends who ran the race and through the Drake Well Marathons' email after I travel back to Salt Lake City today. A few complaints pepper a seas of compliments to the volunteers out on the course, to the organizers of the race and to the city itself. No fewer than 3 aid stations were set up by townfolk not involved with the race, in the scant 3 miles that ran through Titusville's actual downtown area limits. This did not go unnoticed by all he runners who were extremely thankful.

As a vast majority of the runners are close friends or old friends reacquainted, I cannot possibly begin to mention all of them without leaving someone out. I will try to hit on a few and also some random notes along the way.

* I made the beginning race announcements and scurried over the bridge to hop into the lead car (I drove the first 9 miles of the course as the lead vehicle to make sure that everything was still set up, volunteers were on the road and traffic control was in place).

Before doing so, I was very happy to have Titusville High School and West Virginia University standout runner Mac Knapp show up and I handed him the starter's pistol to officially get the runners underway. Few more poignant people could have kicked off a race in Titusville. I told Mac that my best time in a marathon still beats his. Mostly because he has never run one. But that is just details.

* Back during Fiddy2, my friend Jason Roberts had made it a point to be on the course of one of my marathons for me for support and applause. I could not have been more honored that the former center on our high school football team and current member of the US Military, made his first ever marathon the one I was directing. As he entered the final .2 of a mile to go around the track, my mother was there to guide him on. He looked her dead in the eye and said : "Your son is crazy." So glad you finished, Jason!

* I wrote about David Terrill HERE. I could not be happier to report that David ran a stellar race, on a horrible humid day and took second overall in a time of 3:03:26. Great job David.

* 17-year old Peter Burgos from Vermont finished 10th overall in a time of 3:23:40. That is a pretty fantastic time for such a young age.

* Issie Pelc, who in April of 2006 discovered he had cancer and underwent 18 weeks of chemotherapy treatment, ran his 29th consecutive monthly marathon and made the Drake Well Marathon his 50th lifetime Marathon! You can follow his quest HERE.

* Rick Smith of Indiana, a former NCAA basketball champ and easily the tallest runner in the race at 6'5'' (ish) celebrated his 60th birthday (just a few days prior to the race) by competing in the highly competitive 60-64 age group. Just a few weeks younger and he would have placed HIGHER in the 55-59 age group! Let's hear it for the sexagenarians! (And no, those are not people who just eat sex.)

* One of the oldest competitors, Donald Siefers at age 72, ran a stellar 4:19! Still quite feisty, he asked where he placed overall and when I said: " I think in the top 50!" he rolled his eyes and said: "I know that. I bet it was closer to the top 40, son." Probably didn't know he was snapping at the RD. And you finished, 49th, Donald.

The absolute last person to cross the finish was one Donald Kartsen, 48 out of Florida. Don's opinions were extremely important to me as the last finisher so we spoke at great length. Finishing in 6:36:50, Don had to experience the heat, humidity, and unlike most of the other competitors, a bright sunshine that began to beat down from above. I quizzed him on our volunteers and course marshalls, who had been out and about since 6 AM. I thought that perhaps he had nothing but praise about the aid stations, the volunteers and all the enthusiasm shown by the town for everyone of the runners. Hearing this from the person who had to be absolutely exhausted and had every right to be a little cranky was music to my ears.

From first time finishers like mother of six Teresa Redmond who entire family drove from Michigan in a retired Oscar-the-Grouch-green school bus to support her (I hope someone got a picture) to those with over 200 marathon finishes to their name like Rick Rayman of Ontario, Canada, the race was full of 1,000 stories.

Whether I will be involved as a director or a runner or anything next year remains to be seen. What I do know is that those involved will give their all and those running are in for a treat. There are indeed some hills in the beginning, but then the runners get to experience 15 miles of flat trail that runs right next to this:

Few will be disappointed!

Time for Stats:

Of the registered marathoners and half marathoners (whose stories I regretfully did not get a chance to learn as much about):

27 states (and DC) were represented
Five runners came from Ontario
Two runners call London home
One runner each came from Iceland and Hong Kong each
74 was the oldest runner and 17 was the youngest
73% of finishers were male

I am proud to have been able to be part of such a diverse group of runners and can see nothing but this event flourishing in the future. Plans to tie it in with other local marathons have begun. But I want to personally thank all of those involved, both running the race and helping TO RUN the race. Most specifically, I want to thank my family for doing double and triple duty on thankless jobs, the Smith family from Indiana who showed up to support a runner and helped run a race and the countless volunteers out on the course who made this race possible.

Thank you so very much!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Energizer Keep Going Award

Today wraps up the voting for the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame. I have been fortunate enough to be pitted against 9 other deserving candidates for this award and am happy to have been nominated. That said, I have no qualms whatsoever in saying I sincerely hope that I will be able to bring home this award to put another $5,000 in the coffers of L'Arche Mobile.

So please, take two seconds to click on THIS LINK and cast your vote today. You don't want to make cute kids wearing Energizer Bunny ears unhappy do you? Don't be the one who makes them cry. You don't want that on your conscience, believe me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Operation Jack

I love bringing cool news to my readers.

My running friend Sam Felsenfeld is taking on quite a task. But he is used to doing that already.

In 2010, Sam is going to try to run 60 marathons in one year - all to raise money and awareness for Train 4 for Autism. Sam's desire to do so rises from his only family's personal relationship to the neurological disorder. Sam's son, Jack, born September 16, 2003, was diagnosed with autism shortly after he turned 3, although he has been in constant therapy and treatment since before his second birthday.

He is showing signs of progress, but has very limited speech and struggles with communication and social interaction.

So Sam wanted to make a difference. Hence, Operation Jack was born.

But this is also a story about Sam as well. Not only has Sam suffered from a severe neck injury that almost left him completely paralyzed, he has battled an addictions to cigarettes and apparently, for his love of Big Macs. Sam's weight ballooned to 261 pounds before he finally decided to make a change in his life.

Now, Sam is hovering right around 200 lbs (sometimes over and sometimes under) and has to be one of the fastest big runners out there. Agonizingly close to running a sub-3 hour marathon, Sam has pulled his large, much more toned body to a 3:00:04 marathon.

Now Sam is not one to blow his own horn so I am doing it for him. Plus I am telling him that if you are trying to raise money for a cause, you have to get over any desire to not tell people what you are doing. There is just too much going on in the world for people to find out what you are doing unless you talk about it.

Regardless, if you want to follow his incredible adventure or want to run with him, check out his schedule HERE. I am sure I will be following up with him throughout the year next year and wishing him the best of luck.

He will soon learn that the running is going to be the easy part! I hope to convert him to my disdain for the airline industry sometime around St. Patrick's Day.