Friday, October 30, 2009

Team Brandon

This past weekend at the Marine Corps Marathon I had the good fortune to cheer on a good number of friends and acquaintances. One in particular really stuck out. I had thought about mentioned Ted and Brandon Kucowski in the previous blog but decided they deserved their own little spot.

The social networking sites all around us are allowing people to become friends with people they have never (and in some cases may never) meet. There are obviously pros and cons to this which is not the point of this post. The point is to talk about a pair of fellas I met online named Team Brandon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

103rd Marathon Looms

As I approach my 103rd Marathon at the Manchester City Marathon, in New Hampshire, I shake my head at two things:

1. How, 100 marathons ago, I was lining up for, what was in my head, my LAST Marathon.
2. How, I still have not done as many marathons in the rest of my entire life combined (not counting 2006), as I did DURING 2006!

A few months ago I was planning on being elsewhere this weekend. I had the registration form all filled out for the Javelina Jundred, which I wanted to be my redemption race for needing to bow out at mile 87 of my first 100 back in 2007, at the Old Dominion 100. Something stayed my hand on sending in the registration form, and then when I had the run in with the left bumper of a car in August, the rest of my year was throw all a kilter. Could I have still run this 100? Sure. Would it have been in a time far less than I would have wanted it to be? Definitely.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon Weekend

It is rare when I am at a marathon, or nearby and not running it. In fact, a brief thinking backward has me recalling only three such instances.

1. Drake Well Marathon 2009 - I was the race director
2. Potomac River Run Marathon 2008- I was helping run the race
3. Women's Olympic Trials 2008- I am neither female or an Olympic hopeful (expect for in the strictest definition of the word "hopeful").

However, even though the MCM remains one of my most favorite marathons ever, I was not going to be running it this weekend. I knew I would be stretched thin in the week prior to the race doing many other things previously mentioned HERE and with 6 straight marathons on the horizon I had to decide to not run the race. Probably a very good decision but I sure would have loved to run my 5th MCM.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Review of My Book Review

I was recently informed by one of the creators of website that my book, See Dane Run, had been reviewed on his website.

He then went on to say that the review wasn’t exactly favorable. To be honest, I relished reading it even more because of that. Why? Am I masochistic? Nope. As much as I thoroughly enjoy hearing how much people have enjoyed my book or have used it for their own inspiration, I am always wishing to improve myself and my writing. Granted there is nothing I can do to "fix" a book already in print but I can most assuredly learn from constructive criticism.

So, below is the review in its entirety (in italics) with not only my responses to some of the critiques but also some of the responses my fellow readers gave as well, after reading his review.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marathon Makeover Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 20th Edition
505.3 miles raced in 2009

Race: Marathon Makeover Marathon
Place: Jackson, MS
Miles from home: 1803 miles
Weather: 40-60s; cloudy to clear

My Comeback From Injury Train had its next stop in Jackson, MS at the Marathon Makeover Marathon.

After an especially turmoil-filled week for me personally, I was happy to touch down with my hosts for the weekend on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning, after appearing on the Marathon Makeover show on SupertalkFM, I headed over to the expo to sign books for all the wonderful people here to challenge themselves at either the 13.1 or 26.2 mile distance. After this I headed to the Jackson Street Fair to give a speech and provide some inspiring words for the people gathered. A hearty flock were there but even with a heathly ego, I know that while most might have enjoyed my talk, they were eagerly awaiting the announcement following my speech. That announcement? Which person would win a brand-new car!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Note of Thanks

I am very fortunate to receive a great deal of email and letters from people I have met on my travels. I would say 99.9% of them are extremely positive. Without a doubt I know I have my detractors and I am fine with that. I remember all of the people who send me missives but every once in a while, one really stands out. This time it was from a woman named Ginger.

You might be automatically thinking of Ginger from Gilligan's Island, and I have a feeling in her day, this Ginger would have rivaled the other's for beauty.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Beach Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 19th Edition
479.1 miles raced in 2009

Race: Long Beach Marathon
Place: Long Beach, CA
Miles from home: 703 miles
Weather: 60-70s; cloudy to clear

56 whole days between marathons. A car accident which messes up my shoulder. Fifteen or so extra pounds around my waist. These are not things which I am used to having to deal with. But life really doesn't care much what your plans are.

That said, what this marathon was for me was the first of my new century of marathon running. Number 101. The beginning of getting back into shape. I had told people who asked what I thought I was going to run that I was either going to run a 3:04 or a 3:06. Why? Because I felt I was in shape for that sort of running and I chose those two particular numbers because I have never run a marathon time equal to that. That was good enough reason for me!

I was once again one of the featured speakers at the Expo prior to the race and once again got to enjoy speaking to many runners and their families. I always enjoy the fresh outlooks and insights from runners who wish to share their experiences with me. The rest of expo went very well with many others coming to tell me that they had really enjoyed my book and were inspired by it. One guy "blamed" me for his current obsession of running a half marathon every month this year after reading my book in January! I love being blamed for that sort of thing. If I am partially responsible for the slightest improvement in someone else's life, that is a darn good thing.

I also got to hang out with a plethora of friends and other random nice people.

After two enjoyable but long days of working the expo, I had to grab a quick dinner, hit the showers and try to fall asleep early, something which I really cannot do. Fortunately, I was in one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on and around 11 pm or so, I turned out the lights for nappy time.

First 10k: 7:06, 7:02, 6:50, 7:08, 6:58, 7:06: (43:35)

As my hotel was situated rather close to the start of the race, I was very pleased to wake up at 6:15 AM for the 7 AM start. I know this is impossible for other people, but I needed my damn sleep. Signing books and talking to people for two straight days at the expo is deceptively tiring, especially when I have to answer questions like: "Will this guy be here to sign his book?" and "Well you could not have possibly...

1. been employed
2. not been sponsored
3. ran real marathons"

I got to the race with about 7 minutes before the start, listening to a very nice Star-Spangled Banner and then tried to weave my way through the crowd. I knew that with my projected time and what the race results had been last year, I should have about 45 or so people finishing in front of me. Too bad the Spartan-phalanx of nearly-locked armed runners had more or less made it impossible to scoot to the front. Right before i figured I might just drop to my hands and knees and crawl, I ran into my friend Sam and his wife Tiffany who was going to be shooting for a Boston-qualifying time.

Unfortunately for Tiffany, she had been sidelined by injury as of late and getting the time she wanted would be a tough row to hoe. We spoke for a while and I made as many jokes as possible to lighten the mood so she would not be quite as nervous.

Soon the gun was fired and we were off. I spent the first few miles simply dodging runners (and to be clear, not all were out of place- some were half-marathoners as well) and just trying to feel out my body. In the crowd in front of me and all around me were the usual menagerie of runners.

Newbies: wearing their bib number on their back.

Californians: wearing long sleeves and gloves because it was 64 degrees.

High school/ College jocks: wearing knee-length, mesh basketball shorts and a cotton t-shirt.

Running at this pace was different. I was not trying to set a new PR and I wasn't trying to pace the 3:10 group as I have done so many times. This was a pace, somewhere in between; one I was not used to running and felt quite odd. Throw in my shoulder injury and everything else and getting a nice pace going was difficult.

To the Half: 8:37, 6:52, 5:49, 7:05,7:15, 6:56, 7:22 (1:33:01)

But I knew for damn sure I did not run a 8:37 at mile 7! This was the first of just a few markers that were slightly misplaced, but I told everyone not to the worry. The finishline is in the right place and that is all that matters. I had begin running with an above 50 year-old man named Bill who would become my companion for the vast majority of the rest of the race. We would gain or lose new members to our little group but Bill and I chatted, shared stories and just enjoyed having the company.

We had also acquired as company a few other runners including one of the top female runners named Bonnie. Shooting for anything "under 3:10" we told her we were on about a 3:04-3:06 pace and we would love her company but she was welcome to slow if she wanted. She did not for quite some time and we were pleased. I also saw a fellow Big Cat Member, Steph, who has lost a ton of weight since I saw her earlier this year. Thanks for the photo, Steph!

As the course looped around and did a few out and backs, we were able to see both runners behind us and ahead of us. This allowed me to see more than a number of friends and acquaintances and I had a blast saying hello to all of them. I continued to crack jokes, offer advice and keep the minds of the runners around me off of the task at hand. Bonnie quipped right before the halfway turn-around: "Can we pay for this humor?" I usually assume people want to pay me to shut up.

20 miles: 7:08, 7:12, 7:16, 7:15,7:19, 6:48, 7:07 (2:22:22)

When a few mile markers are off the mark, it always makes you wonder a little bit if others are too, especially when you seem to be running a little bit slower than expected. Granted I was expending energy dispensing advice and feeling sort of like a mother duck with my herding, but I did not think that my miles had slipped as much as the did after hitting the halfway point.

Around 18 miles, as we entered the Long Beach College campus, we encountered some of the biggest hills of the course. As we passed by an awesome pyramid structure, Bill and I powered through the biggest of the uphills and created a gap between ourselves and the rest of our little group.

A downhill mile a few minutes before 19 allowed us to stretch our legs a little and run a rather quick 6:48 (which we again questioned because of not knowing about the mile markers)

Bill mentioned he wanted to leave nothing on the course today and I replied I was running no faster than I planned so if he needed to jet, he was on his own today. He said he would wait until mile 22.

Last 10k: 6:51, 6:59, 7:27, 7:05, 7:03, 6:55, 1:41

He waited until mile 21. as he began to pull away, I was really happy to see him turning it on. One of the gentleman who had been running with us earlier, Craig, had caught up to me and began to pull away as well. Craig and Bill apparently will swap age group wins often and I wondered if it would be be another battle.

As we hit the last two hills at mile 23 and again mile 25, I was able to catch up to and pass Craig. Changing my pace not much at all, I only cared about the 3:06 time.

I could tell when I hit mile 25 that I had it and just kept going. Bill stayed in sight as we both passed runners who were faltering on this deceptively humid day. Soon after mile 25, some girls at the ClifBar tent were hula-hopping. One got out of control, went careening into the runners and lo and behold, ended up wrapping itself around my legs.

I was able to get out of it rather quickly without breaking my neck but the look I gave the girl would have melted diamonds. I did not say a single word though. Just the stare. I knew she did not meant to impede but one must use a little common sense! Soon, Craig caught up and passed me as well. I cheered him on and loved the fact that he was doing so. It amazes me sometimes how I am able to turn off my competitive juices when I know there is no point in being competitive. While Craig would not catch Bill in the end he ended up running a stellar 3:06.

With about .2 of a mile left, I was thunderstruck. I had run a 3:06 at Jackson earlier this year. Well, Son of a B*tch! now I knew I had already run a 3:05 and there was no way I was running a 3:04, I just settled back into my stance and enjoyed the downhill finish.

Announcer Rudy Novotny, who has been at many of my races this year was kind enough to announce me coming in and tell people this was my 101st marathon. Thanks a bunch, Rudy.

Three hours, six minutes and 19 seconds after the gun sounded, I put my foot on the finishline. Earlier in the day I had been reminded that my finishes at Surf City and San Francisco has qualified me for a California Dreamin' Medal. Woo-hoo. Bling me!

I was surprised how many others were qualifying for this medal and it showed that the Rock N Roll series does not have a monopoly on people wishing to run multiple marathons to enhance their running experience.

All in all it was a good comeback race. I most assuredly have work to do and am hoping the next few weeks will allow me to race my way back into shape. But in the meantime, it was wonderful to get out an experience the wonder that is the Marathon. I am even more glad to announce that Bonnie did hold on and ran a 3:09:50 (gun time) which had Bill (who ran a 3:05 and one of his better times in years, if I recall what he said correctly), Craig and myself all giving her sweaty hugs at the end. Excellent work Bonnie!

Next up for me, the Marathon Makeover Marathon in Jackson, MS! See you there!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Heading Back to DC!

After living in DC for just short of four years, uprooting my life and moving to Salt Lake City, I knew that my visits back to our Nation's Capitol would be less frequent than I would like. However, with some friends going AWOL and my own personal changes happening, it has now been over a year since I have been back to the greater Washington, DC area. But now I am going back with a bang.

First off I will be doing a book signing and fun run at the Georgetown Running Company.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rules, Rules, Rules

Well, the Lakefront Marathon keeps getting unwanted press.

First, Cassie Peller was disqualified as the overall female winner for receiving a water bottle between official aid stations around mile 19 or so. (Seriously?!)

Goebel with the offending iPod (and apparently intricate tattoo work) showing around her midriff.
After initially declaring 2nd place finisher Jennifer Goebel the winner, it was learned that around mile 19 Goebel turned on an iPod to get a little musical boost. Well, while USATF relaxed the rule banning headphones, iPods and MP3 players late in 2008, largely leaving the decision up to race directors, the ban still applies, to the top-end runners competing for USATF championships or prize money. Down goes Goebel! Down Goes Goebel! This leaves Corina Canitz, finishing in third overall in a time of 3:04:20 to actually be declared the winner, for the third straight year, of the Lakefront Marathon.

About the only nice thing about this entire tale is how Canitz donated her winnings to the Jenny Crain Make it Happen Fund. The fund was created to support Crain, a runner who was severely injured when she was struck by a car in August 2007. (Read some of the entries and do your best to maintain a stiff upper lip. I didn't quite make it.)

I seem to be firing on all cylinders lately with my topics. It was just two weeks ago that I wrote about running with headphones. Regardless of my timing, this is an unfortunate set of coincidences. Rules are indeed rules. If you don't like the rules of one race, then you plain and simply do not need to run it. But some rules really are just a tad silly.

First and foremost, not being able to receive aid outside of the designated aid station area (which is what happened to Peller when the water bottle was handed to her away from sanctioned aid stations) is a little silly. While this was the Wisconsin USATF Championship, we must keep things in perspective. Peller's time of 3:02:09 was extremely respectable. But was she in danger of setting the world afire with her blazing speed that day and not being able to test her water bottle for some miraculous substance would cause great harm to the world records? No. She ran a 3:02. Nice time. Not worth the fuss.

How about Goebel? Was she receiving aid via a wireless device that would allow her to sneak up on runners ahead and have an unfair advantage (the original impetus or one there of the headphone ruling)? I doubt it. While her logic may have some merit:

"The rules don’t state that you can’t wear an iPod. I thought it meant you couldn't win any money if you had an iPod on. I’m not asking for prize money. I’m just looking for the time to be registered."

it should not matter. Even if we say the water bottle fiasco was valid, is this really valid as well? And you know I am no proponent of running with headphones so I am definitely not defending her!

The Race Director stated: "These young women were running at an elite level. They really ought to have known what the rules were." First things first. Ignorance of the rules is no defense. If they fouled up and it was against the rules, oh well. But the first sentence speaks of them running at an elite level. Again, the times, all around the 3 hour mark, are very fast and all of these women should be VERY proud of those times. But to be quite frank, they are not "elite". The draconian way in which the rules were enforced is highly unnecessary.

So I guess the moral of the story is that we, as runners, need to follow the rules of the race we are running. And race directors and organizers need to know when shades of gray are necessary and enforcement of those rules should not be so strict in certain cases.

At least, the $500 went to a a very good cause. Here's hoping that not only does Jenny Crain continue to move forward with her progress but that both Peller and Goebel get to taste the victory stand again real soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Facing" Adversity

I am going to clue you in right now. The title of this blog is horribly "pun"y. But you will forgive me when I am through.

I have known my friend Jenni for close to four years now. When I did my 52 Marathons in 52 Weekends, she was kind enough to host me at the San Francisco Marathon. In fact, on the way to race morning in the cab, I saw my very first live hooker! I was so excited that Jenni thought I was going to jump out and ask for her autograph.

In addition to all of this, Jenni is also in a picture that remains one of my favorite of myself of all time. As I am not the most photogenic chap out there, that is saying something!

Jenni on the left and me on in the middle. Duh.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Like Raaaaiiin on your Running Shoes

So here, just a few days after I nipped a little bit at Alanis Morrisette for creating an entire generation of kids who had no idea what the word "ironic" meant, I am here to praise her. If you did not know, Ms. Formerly-on-You-Can't-Do-That-On-Television (which I adored as a precocious pre-teen growing up in the late 80s) will be running the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon next weekend in Northern California.

More importantly than just another celebrity taking to the 26.2 miles that we all know and love is the fact that she will be raising money for the National Eating Disorders Association. Running for charity is obviously something near and dear to my heart. As such I am always wary when I hear of anyone, especially a celebrity, doing so. However, like it or not, when a "non-runner celebrity" does take to the roads, it is going to raise more money and more awareness than any of us non-celebrities. Which is why I am glad Alanis is running for such a worthy cause and one so completely tied into the sport of running (even if she did not know it to begin with.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Massive Weight Loss

I am a huge champion of people getting healthier. I love hearing stories about how people have taken to better eating habits, adding more exercise to their life, and have realized the value that they have added to their own lives, and those around them by doing so. In fact, I have posted previously about my cousin Jenn who had lost 80 lbs back in March. Most recently she let me know she had pushed past the 110 lb barrier and keeps up the battle every day. I am extremely proud of her! This took a great deal of willpower and fortitude. I also, at the same time, wished she had never gotten herself into that position in the first place.

The reason I say this is a recent story about a man named Bob Bedord who lost 257 pounds in 30 months without surgery. Leaving the easy" Well, he IS from Wisconsin" jokes aside, something about the article struck me. Let me start off by saying that when I read the article I was impressed and also very happy for him. He did not take the easy way out. He worked hard. He lost the weight and will inevitably have a higher quality of life because of it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October...and Snow?

There is something rather amusing about attending a movie and presentation showing in Park City, UT on the last day if September, wherein the residents have all gathered to speak about how global warming is affecting us all and how the snowfall will continue to decrease each year unless we do something about our habits (none of which I am actually disputing)...when there is a raging blizzard going on outside.