Monday, May 31, 2010

Stillwater Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 15th Edition
600.4 miles raced in 2010

Race: Stillwater Marathon
Place: Stillwater, MN
Miles from home: 1325 miles 
Weather: 70-80s; sunny

I went to Stillwater on Thursday marking the 6th time I have been to the North Star State in a year's time after having never been there prior to that visit.  I have always had good experiences there even if I haven't had the best weather to run in.  I knew this race was going to be no different given the predictions of high 80s during the marathon.  But one can only run what is put before them and I had a task to do: 34 miles on my 34th birthday.


I had a great time at the expo signing books for friends and fans and meeting wonderful people.  Too many stories to share all of them here but I will just a few.

One young man, Nate Johnson, was in the middle of doing 5 marathons in 5 weeks.  If that is not impressive enough - Nate is 15!  And he usually runs quite fast.  While he had a tough day in the hot sticky weather in Stillwater, he mentioned that his goal is to get a rejection letter from Boston.  By that he means he wishes t qualify and then be told that because he is under 18 he is not allowed to run.  I have a feeling that if he makes it in, they may just make an exception.

One runner put two dollars down on my table and said :" I owe you this."  Apparently he was two dollars short of being able to purchase my book at an expo and I said it was OK and he could have it for the money he had on him.  Well, he told me that if he ever saw me again he would pay me back.  And he did.  Can you see why I trust runners so much?

I had more than a few people say they saw me on the morning news on Saturday as I gave an interview on KSTP's morning show talking about the race and my experiences.  If they only knew how hard it is nor a nightowl to get up at 6:30 AM to get to their studios (let alone the morning prior to a race!) they may have been even more impressed.

Apparently youtube likes to pause on my boybusiness.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tri again- Lunatic Triathlon

I have had more than a few people tell me "You should do a triathlon."  I have always been intrigued by the "You should" statements. Whether it is a marathon I haven't done or a sport excursion I haven't tried, I wonder where "you should" statements originate.  (Ironically, no matter where I go in this country almost invariably the first marathon I am asked whether I have run or not is NOT one of the 115 I actually HAVE run.  The odds are pretty phenomenal against that but it happens nonetheless. Followed by "Well, you should do it!")  I guess my point is, believe me, I have probably thought about that specific race or that specific new event.  It all comes down to time or money or both.  But, yes, definitely the triathlons or mixed sporting events have been calling me for quite some time.

Back in 2003, I swam the swim leg of a tri in Erie, PA.  I think our team won 2nd place in our age group, whatever age group we were in as there was like 20 years difference between the oldest and the youngest!

I promise I wasn't flipping the Stealth Bird.  I was holding my goggles.

Then in 2007, I again did the swim portion of a tri for a team in a DC triathlon and learned the importance of lubing up your neck in a wetsuit the hard way.

 If a picture could actually say "Mother EFFER" this might be it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stillwater Marathon - Birthday Run

I always think the year is young or has just begun until my birthday hits.  Even though it is the 151st day of the year, I think, no, the year is still in its infancy. Once the day has passed, my thought process changes dramatically. Summer is two steps away, the year is already beginning its steady creep towards December and I realize I have to plan for the Fourth of July and Labor Day parties.

This year, however, I will be celebrating my birthday by running the Stillwater Marathon in Stillwater, MN.

While technically, the race is the day before my birthday this is close enough for me to continue a tradition I started in 2008 of running my age in miles on (or about) my birthday.  In 2008, I helped direct a 4 mile race, ran the course picking up the milers, went on a long run with the Race Director, drove 15 miles to give a talk at a gym, helped direct an 8k, and then ran the 8k to get my 32 miles in.  Last year, I was invited to join the panel at the Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego (including the likes of Frank Shorter and Bart Yasso to name a few).  Then I ran 7 miles from the start of the race backwards to get to the starting line right when the race started, ran the marathon and got my 33 miles in on my 33 birthday.

I was trying to remember why I had not done something similar for my 31sy birthday and then I realized I was attempting my first 100 miler two days after.  And it was also like 97 degrees in DC.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

A few years ago, I took the dive away from the corporate world and into the unknown.  I knew I wanted to have my life revolve around athletics and motivating others to do the same but wasn't sure how to go about that.  I had a plane voucher that had to be used, having been bumped from a flight back in the 52 Marathon excursion.  I had always wanted to go to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, simply because I was hoping to see both Andy and Red there.

If you didn't get that reference,

Unfortunately, the voucher expired before I could make the return trip to home from Zihuatanejo.  So I had to choose another exotic locale.  Mazatlan it was!  I was hoping the complete removal of myself from what I had known for the past four years and taking a trip to somewhere I had never been before would clear my head and help me get a fresh start.  

I fought with sand crabs.
Got pummeled by waves.
Chastised reptiles.
 And actually did some work.  Poolside.  Next to the ocean.  Wi-fi rocks.

The work I was doing was a little freelance work for a company which puts on a series of destination half-marathons, called, interestingly enough, Destination Races.  Well, things have come full-circle and in July I will be not only running one of their races, the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, I will be participating in their Speakers Seminar series as well.

As I crawl my way back to a different type of being in shape, after building up my body to handle the rigors of  the AOR 202, one of the things I wanted to do was take part in more half-marathons.  I have always loved the distance but have done just a handful of them.  So it is with great pleasure that I am able to work with Destination Races and help promote this great series.  

I mean, heck, if Valerie Bertinelli is there, why aren't you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spotlight on Drake Well Half Marathon runner Joe Thompson

The upcoming Drake Well Marathon and Half-Marathon (93 days away) is going to be a blast.  With one year under the belt of the organizers, many of the few snafus will be eliminated and they promise it will not be anywhere close to as humid as it was last year. Mostly because last year was the most humid day in the history of the planet anywhere, ever.  Seriously, it was ridiculous and cannot possibly be repeated.  So there you go.
Me and 2nd overall runner, Dave Terrill looking as if he had just jumped in Oil Creek.

However, as registrations roll in, a plethora  of great stories are popping up.  One particular is about one of my very good friends in high school, Joe Thompson.  Joe was not only a sprinter with speed I could not even begin to fathom but was also an accomplished actor and singer.  Like so many from this small town nestled in the Valley that Changed the World (a rather inordinate number of people, actually), Joe has scattered to the four winds and made a name for himself as a singer in New York City.

 Photo by Peter Hurley of Joe and his mistress.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Visit with ROAD ID

Nearly five years ago, when planning my 52 Marathons, I was learning about running and all the things that go with it.  I began wondering if there was a product that acted like a dog tag of sorts for runners.  I actually had designs on creating my own and being a marketing genius and retiring with my millions.  Of course, the product already existed and was far superior to what I had in mind.  The product was ROAD ID.

In that time, I have become an enormous advocate of ROAD ID.  My stumping for the product was brought home to me personally when I was hit by a car last August. Fortunate enough to not have been knocked unconscious, I was still groggy enough to point to my ROAD ID when the EMTs arrived to ask me who I was and everything else needed to make me safe.  Ironically, one of the EMTs was a ROAD ID wearer himself and actually recognized me from a ROAD ID ad in Runner's World a few years ago.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Johnny's 5k Memorial Run Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 14th Edition
574.2 miles raced in 2010

Race: Johnny's 5k Memorial Run
Place: Clarksville, IN
Miles from home: 1591 miles 
Weather: 50s; sunny

*I wrote about this race  earlier in the week.  I suggest you take a hop over there and give it a quick read.*

As 100 or so runners and walkers lined up to do this 5k in the honor of Johnny Carlock, the sun broke through a little cloud covering and warmed the skin of those standing by. The owner of the running store sponsoring the race, Mike Stallings, said a few words about Johnny who passed away.  When he inquired which year it was that Johnny had died, making sure he got the right year, Johnny's mother standing nearby bravely answered with tears in her eyes.  So many races are run in the honor of something or in memory of another thing that we forget that human aspect of these races and how actual humans are affected by them.  No parent should ever have to outlive their child.  To see both Rachel and Scott, Johnny's parents, realizing they could either just mourn, or mourn and also do something positive with their sadness (and chose the latter) was really touching.

Taking in the entire scene seconds before the race started.

I thought about writing my usual mile by mile breakdown of the race.  And for those who like the running stats portion I ran a 5:45, 6:09 and 6:02 for each mile.  I was exceedingly pleased with a time of 18:36 or so for this 5k given
* I haven't done a 5k in over a year
* never was a short distance guy to begin with
* overslept and woke up 37 minutes before the race started and
* had this for dessert the night before.

This was just ridiculous.  Somehow my steak dinner wasn't enough and I felt I need another 1500 calories.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reposting a Blog about Weight

*I am wrapped up quite a bit in trying to put the finishing touches on my second book.  As such, I am recycling some older blog postings which actually have relevance today. Pardon this cheap journalistic trick* 

This one, about weight, comes to mind as I have been sharing my weight virtually every day on which posts that number on both my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Some female running friends have stated how I am brave to do so as they could never do the same.  I am trying to convince them that weight is just a number and is meaningless without context.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Drake Well Marathon 2010 Prizes

In my running, I have had the great fortune to be in touch with some of the wonderful and historic names of this sport. Two years ago, I met and spoke with Jack Fultz, the 1976 Boston Marathon winner.  When Jack won Boston, his time was 2:20:19.  This was the slowest winning time at Boston in 14 years.  In fact, the year before Bill Rodgers set the course record with a 2:09:55

But believe me, this is not putting Jack down at all.  You see, while details differ on the exact temperature that day, it is known to have been AT LEAST 91 degrees.  In a race that was called the Run for the Hoses, where no official aid stations were available for any runners (boy, that makes you shut your mouth when they don’t have your favorite flavor of energy gel at an out of the way marathon, now doesn’t it) Jack’s 2:20 was amazing.

Well, Jack hails from Franklin, PA – just 20 miles from my hometown - the site of the Drake Well Marathon and Half-Marathon.  For the 2010 editions of these races, both male and female winners will receive hand-signed copies of the picture which fully captures the running for the hoses Jack did that day on the way to his historic win (seen above.)

I am proud to be able to offer this one of a kind gift to our runners and give them that extra something special to run hard for that weekend.  It is also the Drake Well Marathons and Half Marathon's pleasure  to help educate runners about the glorious past our sport has and let them know where we have been so we can fully understand where we are going.

Registration is open now for the Drake Well Marathon and Half-Marathon.  Do not miss this wonderful opportunity to run in the Valley that Changed the World!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Johnny's 5k Memorial Run

In the days after the half-marathon I ran this past weekend I have been more sore and more tired than I ever expected I would running a race that is "only" 13.1 miles long.  Without a doubt my  body is not used to trying to run fast over a such a short distance.  So, what better thing to do than run a 5k race this weekend?

Well, the better thing would be to be able to couple it with visiting one of my best friends on the planet, doing a book signing at a great running store and to not just run any 5K but help one that has a great cause behind it.

Said store and said best friend with way short hair to my left.

Johnny's 5k Memorial Run is a race created in memory of the late Johnny Carlock, who at the age of 24, in October of 2005, began experiencing back pain and difficulty breathing. Johnny was found to have a tumor in his chest and was diagnosed with lymphoma. After three unsuccessful rounds of chemo Johnny's next step was a Stemcell Transplant. Through it all, Johnny suffered through GVHD,  had both his liver and kidneys begin to fail as well as a plethora of other side effects.

By October 2006, Johnny was back home and his first CT scan proved that the tumor had shrunk and that the transplant was working, However, on Thanksgiving 2006, the GVHD came back and sent Johnny back into the hospital. After a short stay where it looked like Johnny would full recover he was soon back in where tests revealed an infection for which there is no cure. A week later on December 26, 2006, just three days after his 25th birthday, Johnny passed away.

This race is meant to continue on Johnny's dream of helping the doctors and staff find a way to make the stemcell transplant process for those who have to undergo it, a safer and less complicated process.  To be asked to be part of this race is both and honor and a privilege that I am happy to do.  So, even though I have every thought in the world that the 3.1 miles of hard running is REALLY going to kick my butt, I am looking forward to this weekend.

Race registration is still open and I invite those in the greater Louisville area to come out this Saturday and have a wonderful time either running or walking (there is a separate walking division) in this event.  I look forward to seeing you all both at the race, as well as at the book signing at Pacers and Racers the night before at the packet pickup!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Grand Valley Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 13th Edition
571.1 miles raced in 2010

Race: Grand Valley Half Marathon
Place: Palisade, CO
Miles from home: 294 miles 
Weather: 40s-50s; windy

I vacillated in my decision on which race to run this weekend in Grand Valley and ultimately made the right choice. However, even as I was signing books at the packet pickup (held at an exquisitely charming art studio called the Twisted Brick Studio) I could not tell if I made the right decision.

It is funny how peer pressure and even joking "Come on! Do the full!" can make one almost waver in their choice. However, I knew I was no where near ready to run a marathon (at least at a good pace) yet. The question remained whether I could even run a fast half-marathon. In spite of those who said a half would be simple now compared to a 202 miler (I mean, it would be if I was running a relaxed pace) when you run shorter distances you have to run faster. Or you should, anyway. That was I why curious what I could do after months and months of prepping my body for loooooong, slow distance.

Race Morning:

The marathon started half an hour before the half.  I arrived just as they fired the starting gun and saw my friend Sam Felsenfeld who I hadn't seen since Pasadena. Sam, as I have mentioned, is attempting to run 60 marathons this year for his Operation Jack cause. I sprinted ahead and caught up to him and wished him good luck. I told him I was running the half and he asked me if it started as the same time as the full. After I told him I had another half an hour he told me he knew he would see me here. I asked why and he said: "It is my 52nd lifetime marathon. You had to be here." (I am telling you - the number 52 is everywhere and Sam knows it. Case in point, my receipt for my Taco Bell the day before the race had me as order # 252.)

A few more steps later and a nice swat on the ass for Sam and I stopped running. Enough of that.  Time to go get back in the car and warm up. The wind was atrocious! I did not get a chance to snap a picture of the "Gusty Winds Possible" sign heading into Palisade but I have a feeling they are ever-present. Oh well. Everyone has to race the same weather!

 First 4 miles: 6:17, 6:47, 6:24, 6:31

I had pegged a few runners as potential top three placers and when we first started, the one who I had most felt would be upfront was indeed there leading the way. I tucked in behind him and followed the police car heading out of town. The wind was fierce and not actually too cold but rather just standing you straight up. I could not hear a single person behind me because of the din so I knew the leader couldn't hear me. No matter as we hit the second mile and he had already opened up a 30 second lead. I was working far too hard for the mile splits I was getting so I figured that my hopes of delivering a Mother's Day win for my mom were going down the drain. As we turned away from the direction we had been running to do miles 3 and 4, the wind was either at our backs or blocked by the mesa (and this mesa could do that as it is the biggest mesa in the world!

I had closed the gap between me and the leader and thought perhaps I could make a late race surge.  Just stay in contact, I told myself, and give it all you have later.
Next 5 miles: 7:30, 6:28, 7:43, 7:22, 6:20

The next mile included a 200 foot hill in .3 of a mile.  Ugh.  I am not joking.

I actually took a five second walk break about halfway up. I was crawling and sucking wind. Tough stuff.  Luckily, I could see everyone else was doing the same thing.

Cresting at 4,900 feet above sea level I most assuredly was not enjoying running up this beast. However, my mile split wasn't too bad and then the next mile felt even better. Perhaps I was in my usual "Don't even wake up until mile 6" routine.

As the leader reached the turn-around and headed back towards me I had again gained ground. With vineyards to our left and the town of Palisade down in the valley, I was enjoying a beautiful view. My mile split was a little askew here because it went from mile markers to "miles left" - a thing the Mammoth Marathon people do to get rid of that pesky .1 or .2 at the end of the race.  However, what was more surprising when I turned was that there were none of the runners who had been behind me previously. But another runner had closed the gap considerably and was nipping at my heels.

After hitting the turnaround I could not only see how close he was but I was also running full tilt into the teeth of the wind. It just began to sap me. When the previous third place runner passed me around mile 7.5, I felt deflated. I hoped to just keep him in sight and use the downhill as best as I could to see if I could reel him in later.

Getting to see the runners I had met the day before who were on their way out on the out and back course was a nice distraction from how tired I was feeling. Possessing a good memory, I am always able to surprise people when I remember their name. Sometimes when they are wearing sunglasses, a hat and are head to toe in runner gear I find them harder to place but I am usually pretty good with that stuff. I have always said that, as a whole, runners are just some of the best people I have ever been around. This continues to hold true to this day.

When I did get the downhill, I was able to narrow the distance between myself and second place runner but could see first place was nearly untouchable. He was way too good for me today and I was way too tired. I had to allow myself to be tired having just run 202 miles. Allowing ourselves to rest and recover from races is something we don't do as much in this world of constantly showing each other our race medals for bragging rights.

Last 4 miles: 7:35, 7:15, 7:07, 6:46

After leaving the hill, the next two miles were once again into the nasty wind. Any ground I gained on second place was lost and now I was just content to run out the clock. Without a doubt, I was not only conditioning myself for this 202 for quite sometime but I was also, in spite of how good I felt relatively speaking, was feeling the rigors of my ultra just two weeks prior.  Regardless, could someone please turn off the damn wind machine!?

I felt a little better when we turned on the back stretch home and my last two miles were more respectable.  I do not think I could have run much faster if I wanted to but if I was paying attention to my overall time I would have tried to slip in under 1:30. Instead, I finished third overall (with Jason and Billy taking first and second in stellar times- I think 1:24 and 1:28) with a time of 1:30:14 (I think.)

The race overall had more than doubled its total numbers from the year before which is wonderful to hear. I was a little disappointed that the usually wonderful awards the Mammoth Marathon people gave for top prizes (sandblasted stone) were not part of the takeaway this year. Hopefully next year and beyond they will be now that the race has become much more popular. These guys put on some nice races. No real frills per se and sure there are some tweaks here and there that would make them a little better. But for what you pay, every race I have done from the Mammoth Marathon guys has been top notch.

I didn't get the victory I had hoped for but my Mom said she was more than happy with a 3rd place overall. I am sure I could have finished 3rd from last and if I returned healthy my Mom would have been happy.   

She is a fantastic lady and I am so happy she is my Mom.  You rock, Mom.  Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back to the Starting Line

I don't want to get on a plane.

I want to run this weekend and I would like to do so in an actual race.  However, I have limited options this Mother's Day weekend with even fewer options that I can drive to. You see, I just don't want to get on a plane.  I have spent too many damn weekends on a plane this year (and the past four years, really) and I just don't want to.  Even for like an hour. OK?  Don't WANT!

Fortunately for me, just a four hour drive away in Colorado is the Grand Valley Marathon put on by the Mammoth Marathons guys.  I have talked about them on numerous occasions as I have run three of their races: the Little Grand Canyon Marathon, the Little Grand Canyon Half and the Mesquite Marathon.

They alwasy seem to put on good, low-key events and I get along with them very well. So, it is off to Palisade, CO I go.