Saturday, April 25, 2015

When you BQ you should be in...Troubles with BQ system!

    Interesting article in  They provided Boston Marathon numbers and one particular set caught my attention.   There were 30,251 Registered runners and only 27,165 showed.  These numbers support the notion that the attrition rate related to no shows would have allowed for capacity for the 1,900 that didn't get to run but still met BQ standards! I believe organizers should show 2005-2013 data and analyze the trends to see if this hypothesis holds true and let all that BQ in.  Some believe they overstate the number of slots by 5,000, because they only can support 25,000 runners.  I believe this argument is flawed and if that is the case the whole methodology for BQ standards should be relooked.  1,900 runners met the standards and didn't get to run and that is just not fair. Below is a link that is interesting showing other options and some historical information.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

ING NYC 2013 or Bust

      In early December 2012, I signed up for ING NYC 2013 Marathon on a whim.  I signed up the year before and (in hindsight, luckily) didn't get in.  As you know, NYC suffered one of its worst natural disasters and Thank God, cancelled the race.  With luck on my side, I rolled the dice again.  In early spring, I was rummaging through my email and all of the sudden I get this odd email entitled: You're In!  I opened the email (against all security analyst's advice) and to my surprise, I was selected in the lottery to run in the ING NYC 2013 Marathon.  I jumped from my computer and screamed so loudly with elation that my wife Stacey had to ask what is wrong with you:)   I shouted, I just won the lottery.  Thinking of new found money, Stacey's interest was piqued. I told her that I got into the marathon and she was happy for me. However, I was not happy for our bank account.  Instead of receiving millions, we would be paying hundreds.  Now it was time to train and figure out logistics.
       In 2012, in preparation for the Maui Marathon, the summer was hot.  It seemed every day that I put on my kicks, it would rain or be over 85 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity.  This year, the weather cooperated.  I finished up with a long run of 3 hours and then ran the Army 10 miler with a PR of 71 minutes and change.  I followed that up with the Capital 20 miler in 2:38 and change.  I was ready.  I also found out that Stacey's sister offered to put us up in NYC in her apartment.  I really thank Kristy, Pat and Louis for their thoughtfulness.  Staying with them not only calmed my nerves, but really helped out financially!  Thank You again!  Now we are getting close to show time.  As my last week approached, I began to taper, but as Murphy reared its ugly head, I ended up getting a sinus infection 6 days before the race.  I ended up taking Z pack starting on Thursday before the race.  The doc said this should not impact me too much, but keep hydrated so I did. The next day, we hopped on the train and the family headed up to NYC.  We arrived around 11PM and took a taxi through the city and got settled in with Kristy and crew.  I just love NYC at night!  So much action and so many lights.   Def my fav in terms of cities.  The next morning, after a nice big breakfast, the gang went over to the Expo.  I just love all the eating the last week to carb up.  Lets put it this way, my infection didn't screw with my appetite.  The gang jumped on the subway and picked up the packet and shopped for all kinds of crazy running stuff.  Its amazing how many different products are offered these days. I ended up with some arm warmers, running hat, and cute gloves with each borough name printed on each finger.  After the Expo, we hiked the High Line and then got a bite to eat--pizza, pizza:)  That night, we all went out for some paaassstttaaa.  As with each marathon, the curse of the night before kicked in.  A 10 to 15 stack of crates was pushed over by a truck and came within inches of smashing all of us.  Check out the pic.   After all the action, that night, I slept pretty well!

        The next morning it was time for the dance. I woke up at 04:15 and crept around the apartment trying not to wake folks.  I ate my typical cheerios and banana breakfast and got ready for the race.  At 05:10, Pat and Kristy were nice enough to drive me over to the ferry.  I arrived at White Hall Terminal to a mad house. It was a cold morning, but I was prepared.  Maybe a little overly prepared.  I wore my shorts and tank, with arm warmers, then had old ass sweats, with two sets of fleeces, my fuel belt, gloves, and a hat.  I also had hand warmers in my shoes, short pockets, and in my gloves.  By 5:45, I boarded the first ferry on my way to the starting line in Staten Island.  On the ferry, it was covered and heated.  I started to sweat and my GI kicked in.  Thank God for the bathrooms on the ferry--barely a line and clean!    After three trips to the bathroom, my nerves finally calmed and we arrived on the Island.  After disembarking, we hiked to buses and started a 40 minute bus drive to the start at the Verazzano Bridge at a Army base.  After unloading on the bus, there was a short jaunt to the start.  Everything was very well organized.  I ended up in Wave 1, with a 09:40 start time where all the food and drink was available.  It was now 07:00, cold and no place to go.  Dunkin Doughnuts provided free coffee and passed out the cutest hats. Since I had a running hat, I had the idea of carrying it in my belt and handing it off at mile 17 to Stacey for a keepsake.  Needless to say, that didn't happen...more to come on that topic later.  After running to the DJohns several times, I met several runners and chatted it up a bit to kill time.  It was cold, but not unbearable.  Finally, it was close to race time, so I was moved to the Wave 1 corral for my time. I was in the last group in Wave 1 toward the back of the start for our Wave.  It was like being placed in a 30X30 pig pen surrounded by a fence, mud, DJohns surrounded by 100 of your closest friends with nowhere to sit.  At 09:20, we were moved toward the bridge.  Since we were the last group there were threats of cutting us off and moving us to the Wave 2 corral. HELL NO!  I stripped down to my shorts and one fleece and ditched the majority of hand warmers.  10 minutes later, I heard the howitzer go off signalling the start of the race. Yeesssss.
      I was in tears of joy at the start.  After waiting 2 years, going through 6 months of 40-50 mile weeks, I finally made it to the start.  I was at the very end of Wave 1 and we were ready to roll.  I was surrounded by two German female runners dressed as clowns and I met a fellow runner that ran the event two years prior.  We swapped stories and then I heard it.

      Start spreading the news
      I am leaving today
      I want to be a part of it
      New York, New York

The race had started...It took about five minutes to hit the starting line, then up and over the V. Bridge.  I had a brisk head-wind of 20 mph with a chill factor of 28 F.    Once I got over the bridge I shed my remaining layers and took pee and I was off.  The experience of running through each bureau was incredible.  Each bureau represented each of their unique cultures and heritage. It started off with Brooklyn.  I never realized how big Brooklyn was.  The wind and cold continued and so did the crowd.  In Brooklyn, I ran past Dr. Basketball.  He dribbled two basketballs the entire way.  The crowd was proud showing their roots through their music. There were police officers every 50 feet in the median and on both sides of the street. Hats off to the NYPD!  Now it was time to head off to Queens.  The Irish flags were waving, the dancers were shuffling and the bagpipes were blowing.  Then came the Queensboro Bridge at mile 15.  Two miles up hill in head winds.  Really rough on the body, but once at the crest I started to the crowds just as other runners had promised.   On the descent, Manhattan was near and the crowd noise was nothing like I've experienced at any other sporting event that I've been involved with, but then the trouble began.
     As I rounded the corner after exiting the bridge, all I could see was 20 rows of people on both sides--amazing.  I knew Stacey and gang were hanging out around mile 17 and I started to look for them.  Now for my Dunkin Donuts hat story...At mile 17, I heard Stacey say hey Mike.  I turned around, pulled my treasured hat out of my fuel belt and tossed it into the crowd.  Needless to say, it wasn't her and I lost my treasure--my DD hat that I carried for 17 miles.  Days later I contacted DD and they tried to find one, but after a week of searching they couldn't locate one.  Thanks for trying DD.   Well here is an update on the DD Hat.  The day before XMAS I received a call from DD.  They located a hat and it arrived on the day after XMAS.  I had to model and also show the NOTE from DD Brands Customer Care.  Thanks Hillary!  You Guys Rock!
                    Two minutes later, I felt a twinge in my hamstring. Literally at the same time that I felt the pain, I heard my name and grabbed for my hammie.  As the pain shot through my leg, I turned back and there were Stacey and John.  My emotions were twisted.  I shot back a quick love you and moved on.  I just couldn't deal with the pain, so I had to walk.  The effects of the antibiotics were starting to kick in.  The next 6 miles were a combination of cramping pain in hammie and calf and high fiving kids in the crowd.  Then there was Pedals.  A 20 something kid, tried to ride his bike across the path of the runners.  He was within 6 feet of me and blocking my path.  Thank goodness for the cop standing next to him.  The cop said, hey Pedals, you can't do that and in one motion, he grabbed Pedals and the bike and launched him out of the way.  I also ran next to Lady Liberty, an Indian with head dress and the 6 foot 9 Elvis in his white jump suit.

One experience in Harlem that I recall is fist bumping a kid and high fiving his friends.   The kid was bragging that he got fist bumped and you guys just got high fived.  You know getting fist bumped by a star marathon runner like me is something that you will never  Now we entered Central Park and the finish line was near.  4 more miles and cramping like a dog.  The next two miles were a combo of walking and running.  Very painful.  My 3:30 finish was out of sight, so I re-focused.  Now my goal was finish or die, beat 4 hours and try to run the last 2 miles.  Well, all adjusted goals were met.  Turning down finish lane was the loudest crowd noise of all.  I felt pretty good the last 2 miles and finished a respectable 3:49 and change.  As I crossed the line, I presented the line with the salute my son requested.  I felt pretty good at that point.  As we crossed the finish line, we were immediately provided our medals.  The volunteers did a great job throughout the course and I truly appreciate their support.
      After getting medals and finish line pics, we received our emergency blanket and go bag.  We were then separated by baggage/no baggage options.  I selected no baggage and received a big orange thermal poncho that I will wear proudly today.  Here is a pic.

We then marched around a mile form 62nd to 77th to family reunion.  Stacey, Kristy and Pat met up and I changed into dry clothes and we were off to PJ Clarkes--an upscale restaurant bar.  I came in with my orange poncho and patrons were very respectful.  All of the sudden, Stacey grabs me and says look next to you its Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  Very cool...cordial, but not wanting to be messed with.  Before getting a beer, Pat suggested my old favorite--McSorleys and I couldn't resist. After a few darks and quick burger, we started the journey home.  The next morning I was somewhat sore, but walked quite a bit.  I went shopping with the gang.  Slowly but surely.  In the subway, I saw a few girls that couldn't make it up the subway stairs, so I went over to chat.  They wore their medals proudly.  I opted out, because I didn't know the deal.  After a nice lunch with Stacey, we worked our way back to Kristy's place and I called it a day.  The next day we started our journey back to DC.  I was still pretty sore, but could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The train ride was nice and after a few beers, I was out like a light.   After arriving in DC and making the drive back home, I had to work that morning.  The whole time I contemplated what tattoo I would get for the memory.  Marina suggested a subway token and a subway token it was.

 I found a great artist, Amy Ax of Ricks Tattoo parlor in Arlington.  The oldest parlor in the city.  I sent my idea and she sent back a sketch--see pic.  I was sold and two weeks later was completely wowed by the work.

       By far, this experience blows away anything I've been involved with running-wise.   I would like to end this experience with my Facebook post.  Thanks everybody for the support and kind words!  Tired and sore and saying goodbye to NYC!  Thanks Kristina, Louis and Pat for hosting us here!  I truly appreciate everything you all have done for me personally and for my family!  Would not have been the same warm experience in a different setting.   Thanks Stacey, Marina, JuJu and John for all the support over the last 6 mo.  I love you and could not have done it without you!  Here is two for you 3:) (If you have not guessed, I'm the guy with the ear cleaner)

As John would say you have skin like paper and feet of glass.

Sorry for all the posts.  I know it can be annoying.  Just trying to share a unique experience.  If you have NOT been here for the Marathon as a runner, spectator or as a volunteer, it is highly recommended.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Maui a Different Kind of Marathon Experience

Now after a year of reflection, I've caught my breath and wanted to share my marathon experience in Maui.   On September 13th, Stacey and I raced (no pun intended) off to Maui to take a break from our everyday DC grind.  The purpose of the trip was two-fold:  1.  to celebrate our 20th anniversary; and 2. to run the full and half marathon.   One day I was paging through Runner's World and came upon the advertisement for the 42nd Maui Marathon.  It was advertised as the most beautiful race you will ever experience and it didn't disappoint.  I thought that maybe Stacey would like to take the trip.  Well, not only did she take the trip, she ran her first 1/2 and killed it!  So proud of her.
    We arrived on the island on a Thursday late afternoon after a 13 hour trek across the Pacific.   After getting our Red Beater from the local car rental, we headed off for the Outrigger.  We thought the car was the smallest piece of shit (more to come on the Red Beater), but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Upon checking in to the Outrigger, we worked our way down to our condo.  We got lucky... a beach side condo on the golf course.  It was newly renovated and was absolutely gorgeous.  After unpacking, we headed off to the grocery store in Lahaina and got a bite to eat at LuLu's.   After eating, we went back to the condo and planned our week.
    The next morning we both got up at 5:30 and both went for our final taper run before the race. Taper run was about 3 miles and at an easy pace.  We headed north and ran along the ocean front on a windy little beach route.  During the run, I reconfirmed why we came here.  To enjoy our 20th together in such an amazing place!  We decided to spend the day chilling on our beach and to go snorkeling.  We were literally on Black Rock Beach, a well known snorkeling spot on the island.  Our condo had a secure cabana on the beach where we could check out towels and store our lunch in a fridge.  We rented snorkeling gear and we were off!  The water had a chill to it.  Upon entering the water with our gear, you could instantly see wild life along the coral.  Within 30 minutes, we saw Coronetfish, Butterflyfish, Moray Eel, Pufferfish and a Giant Hawksbill Sea Turtle.  Because the water was so cold, we could only stay in the water for no more than 30 minutes without turning purple, so we had to take breaks.  After a nice day at the beach, we went off to pick up our race packets at the expo at the Westin in Kanapaali and to grab a nice dinner and call it the night.   The majority of the participants were Japanese which added a energizing atmosphere to the overall experience.  
   After a nice breakfast in the morning, we decided to make the trek on the Road to Hana.  A long windy road, that started through small rolling hills with occasional ocean views to being completely off-the-grid.  The trip was a three hour drive up a two-way one lane road along sheer cliffs with the most beautiful scenery that you could imagine and the Red Beater came through.  The car literally wrestled with a mongoose and won (sorry).   After several scary incidents (that will remain anonymous) with the crazy road, we arrived into a local town out of the sixties (loved it) to grab some groceries.  It reminded me of my SF days in Bolinas lol... Everything was locally grown and homemade.  In fact,  I bought a gazillion home made banana nut breads used them for post marathon recovery and for our plane trip home.  I think I even had a few the following week back in DC.    I'm beginning to wonder if they had happy ingredients:)  We finally arrived at the top of Hana and began a 2 hour hike up to the waterfall and, of course, stubborn me didn't listen to Stacey about wearing the right shoes.  It seems every time I run a long race, I injure myself the day before.  MCM was a broken tail bone and in Hana, well lets just say we wore flip flops and ended hiking without shoes.  Lava rocks, bamboo forests, rain, mud, etc...  OUR feet were so torn up and swollen, I didn't know what 2:30 AM wakeup would bring.    We safely made the journey and the Red Beater came through! 
   That night, we carbed up and rested and iced our feet and prepared for the next morning.  Wake up call came early.  I had to be on the bus at 3:30 AM.  So made the walk and met up with a fellow runner from Japan on the way.  We ended up hanging out before the race and sharing different running experiences which made the bus trip go by a bit faster.  What a psychological drain.  The bus took the running route and just totally psyched me out!   Race time finally came at 0530.  The first 5 miles were sub 8 through the flat sugar cane fields, then came the mountain.  Felt great going through the 6 miles up and down the mountain!  Custis Hill training came through, but then came the coast...Hot...Hot...Hot!  The last 15 or so miles were along the coast.  It was around 0800 and hot with high humidity, but drop dead gorgeous.  The lands changed around each bend.  Watching the surfers take time out to cheer on the runners was so cool!  After reaching the town of Lahaina, I knew the finish was in reach (5 miles out), but cramping started.   Rolled through a sprinkler and then cramped--irony.  At this time, I started to tell myself, 5 miles this is a simple daily routine.  I knew I had 40 minutes and I was finished.  Well 40 turned into 50 and then I could see the finish line in the distance, but cramping kicked in again.  1,000 feet from the line, I had to stop.  Both the front and back muscles in my leg were arguing which could hurt me more.  The crowd was cheering me on, but I told them I'm done.  All of the sudden a volunteer came out and used a little reverse psychology on me and it worked.  I hobbled the rest of the way and beat my 4 hour mark by a few minutes.  Although about 20 minutes slower than MCM, I was pleased that I finished period and anything else was the cherry on top. 
   Post-race fatigue kicked in fast, so I thought that I would get a massage.  What a mistake.  I had two massage therapist students working my legs and then I cramped so bad, I thought my muscles were snapping in half.  I excused myself from the massage table and worked my way over to the medical tent for an IV.  I dropped 64 ounces of saline in 15 minutes.   At that point, I had to pee so bad (too much info) and just wanted to get on with things!  The doctor wanted to keep me for a third bag, but I wasn't taking anymore in.  I ended up pulling the IV out and thanking the doctor and the students for the help.   Parting words (advice from) with the doctor so to speak was to stay away from the beer tonight at the party...wink wink.  In the back of my mind, I thought I was forgetting about something and sure enough I did--my feet and plans for the morning.  My socks were covered in blood.  I ended up going back to the room, changing into flip flops with socks.  I forgot that I arranged a four hour bike trip down the volcano for 0230 the next morning.  Needless to say I was so thankful for a refund!   At that point, I met up with Stacey and we spent the remainder of the day swimming at the beach and pool and swapping stories.  The cold water was like a natural ice bath and worked out just fine.  I was so proud of her!  She wasn't even that sore!  I felt like such a moron. Oh well...:)  Ironically, we met this other couple that was our complete opposite.  The wife ran over 120 marathons and the husband ran the 1/2.  Great company and many funny stories.
   The next morning we decided we enjoyed snorkeling so much that we would just try different beaches around the island, before we had to jump on the plane and head home.  After a few hours of snorkeling we packed up and said our goodbyes to the island!  I must say that Hawaii is our favorite place to visit and some day would love to live there!   Next stop ING NYC Marathon 2013!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Mezamashii Experience

From time to time, I receive information on a unique running project or experience and want to make sure I share. The Mezamashii Run Project is an effort by Mizuno to help create a more euphoric or unique running experience — a more "brilliant" run — for more runners everywhere. My such experience was running my first marathon--Check out my story:

My Mezamashii Run 

The word "mezamashii" means "eye-opening" or "brilliant" in Japanese — it’s a word that captures the euphoric feeling of a brilliant run.  Check out the project and your might be interested.  My wife swears by Mizuno's!  Just go to Mezamashii Run Project and click on "Apply for an Invite."

The Mezamashii Run Project is an effort by Mizuno to help create a more euphoric running experience — a more "brilliant" run — for more runners everywhere. The word "mezamashii" means "eye-opening" or "brilliant" in Japanese — it's a word that captures the euphoric feeling of a brilliant run.
The Mezamashii community will continue to receive brilliant run inspiration from Mizuno in the form of early access to product launches and other exclusive Mizuno events. Over the course of the remainder of the year, Mizuno will give away thousands of shoes to runners who are looking to experience more euphoric, brilliant, mezamashii running.


About Mizuno USA

Mizuno USA, Inc.'s roots stem from its parent company Mizuno Corporation. Mizuno Corporation was established in Osaka, Japan in 1906 by Rihachi Mizuno. Today, Mizuno USA is located in Norcross, GA and continues to manufacture and distribute high quality golf, baseball, softball, running, track & field and volleyball equipment, apparel, and footwear. Mizuno USA, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mizuno Corporation, one of the largest specialty sporting goods manufacturers in the world.
Since their founding, Mizuno has taken special pride and pleasure in being able to participate in the exciting world of sports and providing sports equipment of the highest quality. Each and every one of Mizuno is guided by the ideal of true sportsmanship. That was true over 100 years ago and is still true today. It is evident in their corporate philosophy which, simply stated, is "Contributing to society through the advancement of sporting goods and the promotion of sports."
Mizuno’s product development strategy is to create products with features that enhance athlete performance and are unique to only Mizuno. These technological advancements make their sporting equipment and apparel go the extra mile and keep their customers in tip top playing form no matter the sport or the conditions. Mizuno believes in making products that work in harmony with the body, helping its users to be the best athlete they can be.
  • Philosophy: Never Settle™ is more than just a tagline. It's Mizuno's calling. Mizuno's way of seeing the world. And the rallying cry for the entire company.
  • Innovation: Breakthroughs come by leadership and discovery, not by following others. Mizuno's R&D teams will stop at nothing to give athletes the gear they need to perform their best.
  • Leadership: Mizuno challenges themselves each day to innovate and constantly improve. And Mizuno's leaders not only are seasoned in their respective sports but also inspire the entire company to make the world a better place through participation in sports.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Undisciplined Discipline

After running the Marine Corps Marathon in late October, I had met my goal for the year and didn't have any short-term goals in mind.  I got my MCM Tatt that I promised myself as a reward and reminder, but lacked motivation to train. BTW,  I intend to add a little runner for each race over 26.2 miles.  Hopefully I will have an anklet by 50. I know this may be a bit self absorbed and silly at my age, but I don't really care.

After recovering from the marathon in a week, I started back on my 6 day a week 5 mile regimen, but also gained about 5-8 pounds in the process.  The primary reason for the weight gain is that I didn't have any incentive and I also didn't watch my diet as closely.  I read several articles that said this often happens after meeting your long-term goal.  After about two months into 2012,  I finally made a short-term goal of adding a 10 mile run to my weekly plan and have stuck to it.  I also added a long-term goal to enter and run (with a little luck from the lottery) the 2012 NYC Marathon and intend to change my training strategy. 
So I guess the moral of this piece is that goals do matter--they keep the undisciplined disciplined.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Runners, are you looking for a BIGGER challenge? Here’s an offer just for you!!

Picture this -- a cool breeze at your back, the scent of blossoming flowers, “purple mountain’s majesty” in front of you…and the SEARING pain in your quads with each and every stride down this effing mountain! 
Don’t come to Roanoke, Virginia to enjoy a relaxing weekend; come to see just how much the National College Blue Ridge Marathon can kick your butt. 
If you’re one of the growing population of marathoners seeking challenging marathons to test your mental and physical endurance, you may have noticed a rivalry quickly building between the National College Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, Virginia and the TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon in Tucson, Arizona.  Both races claim to be America’s toughest road marathon. 
When organizers of the Blue Ridge Marathon learned about Mount Lemmon’s claim they issued a challenge to “let the runners decide which is tougher”, and they backed their challenge by offering free entries into their race to anyone who had just completed the Mount Lemmon Marathon.
About 20 runners accepted the offer and hit the pavement this past April. After the race, organizers showed some southern hospitality by treating the Mount Lemmon runners to breakfast at Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles.  Those who know Thelma’s would argue this was a bribe…and that may be the case. Regardless after experiencing 26.2 miles of elevation change, pounding rain and hail, and a course that trekked through the downtown area, followed a river, climbed the mountain, and took runners back down the mountain, runners were asked to share their experience.  Here’s what they had to say:
National College Blue Ridge Marathon
Roanoke, Virginia
TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon
Tucson, Ariz.
Three mountains to ascend and descend, totaling 7,200 feet of elevation change.
Gradual climb of 6,000 feet.

Roanoke’s is tougher.  At least that’s according to Tim Sykes.  He won the 2010 Blue Ridge Marathon and came in second at the 2011 Blue Ridge Marathon.  As his prize in 2011, the folks in Roanoke paid for him to head to Tucson and compete in the Mount Lemmon Marathon.
He won that too.  “It wasn’t the race itself that helped me decide which was tougher,” said Sykes, “it was how long it took me to recover after the race that was really telling!”  “I was able to run 40 minutes the day after the Mount Lemmon Marathon, [but I] couldn’t really run for three days following the Blue Ridge Marathon,” said Sykes.  “Although Mount Lemmon was beautiful, very tough, and a challenging - both mentally and physically…I’d have to say that the Blue Ridge [Marathon] is definitely tougher.”
You decide.Pete Eshelman of, an organizer of the Blue Ridge Marathon, wants you to decide for yourself.  Register before December 31st for the National College Blue Ridge Marathon and receive 15 percent off the registration fee, just use the code “Tough”.  
Roanoke has so much to offer visitors: wineries, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, quiet countryside vistas, quaint boutiques, and restaurants for almost every palette, everything a guest needs to enjoy the beauty and serenity the Roanoke Region of Virginia has to offer.  But for one weekend a year, we’re looking for the visitors that don’t want any part of that – instead they’re looking for the challenge of a lifetime – and we can offer them that too!
Win a free entry.  Here is how you can win.  Provide a comment on this post.  The comment should explain why you want to run "the toughest marathon in the US."  Then, follow my blog.  I will pick the most interesting comment and email the lucky winner a code (through email you provide in your profile when you follow blog) that will give you a free entry to the National College Blue Ridge Marathon.  There will only be one winner, so be creative!  I will make a decision in mid-December.

Here are some Pics of the event.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Running My First Marathon

MCM Statistics

MCM Pictures

    As I sit here recovering from the 5th largest commitment of my life after marriage and three kids, I write to you broken down, sore, but with the feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment.  The journey began four months ago when I started the training program.  The program consisted of one long run a week with five short runs of five miles or more.  The concept was to build it up and break it down every four weeks until I peaked out a month prior to the race.  During this time, I often heard, where is Mike?  I have to thank Stacey and the kids for putting up with the time I pulled away to prepare for the big dance.  On average, I would take 8 hours a week of training.  I love you Stacey and I appreciate everything you do! 
     During the training period, there were ups and downs just like everything else in life.  Weather, commitments, injuries, physical and psychological limitations, and just getting those damn shoes on almost every day were always a chore.   I think it rained 10 out of 12 long runs during the 4 month period.  As for the shoes, they are going into the trash today!  After my peak training run, tapering began and I could start seeing the light...I felt both a sense of accomplishment, but also started to become nervous about the race.  I kept thinking, can I finish?...Is this possible?  Your training runs peak out at three hours and the actual race for most is another 45 minutes to an hour trying to finish those last six unaccounted for miles.  The week before the race was very satisfying.  I literally grazed all week long.  I ate whatever I wanted to...Garlic bread, mashed potatoes and of course pasta were my favs!   The night before, we went to a Halloween party and feasted on chili, lasagna, papaya and more.  After the party, I made final preparations for race time.  I was not sure what to bring because of the weather shift.  Temperatures were expected to range from a low of 32F at start time to a high of 45F by finish time.  I ended up with Underarmour Cold gear with two throw away fleeces.  I also purchased 4 pairs of toe warmers.  I also packed a go bag for after race.  This was key.  After the race you are so broken down and cold.  Changing into a nice set of warm clothes is a must!  With a wake up call at 4:45, I tried to get to bed by 10, but I ended up waking up all night long.  Now for the race.
    As the alarm clock went off, I just glanced over thinking...didn't need to hear that after being up all night.  I crawled out of bed and ate a decent sized breakfast.   Not knowing what to expect, I also drank a bottle of OJ and began dressing.   I didn't realize how this would impact me at the beginning of the race...if you know what I mean.  I stuck the toe warmers on the tongue of my shoes, on the running tights near my thigh, in my pockets for my hands and on my ribs.  This did the trick.  Many runners were wearing garbage bags and were cold as hell.  I thought this would make you sweat and cause even further cold especially when you had over an hour of standing around prior to the race and it did.  Stacey dropped me off at the metro and I was on my way.  Thanks Stacey!  After baggage drop off and walking the mile to the starting line, I found my way to the expected pace group.  I originally was going to run with the ClifBar team, but decided to go out on my own, just like training.  The crowd was booming and all I could think about was lets get this thing on.  The nerves sent me to the woods on several occasions--just moments before the start.  As I was getting up to the starting point, I saw two jumpers heading down to the starting line very cool, but man they had to be cold.  At that point, two V22 Ospreys flew over.   The rumble of the twin engines and propellers raised the hair on my neck.  Here we go...Sang Star Spangled Banner and Drew Carey kicked off the wheelchair and hand cycle runners at 07:45, so I knew we were just moments away.  I ran into the woods for a final pit stop, shed my top fleece, set my watch and iPod and was ready to go.  Finally, the chants of Oorah began and we were off and running!
     During the first 10 miles, I kept telling myself slow down...don't go out too fast.  Didn't work;( Started off with a sub 8 minute mile through mile 10.   This completely backfired near the end of the race.  I was also trying to keep track of my carb loading--every 5 miles.  I became very disoriented during the race and the simple tasks of counting miles became a burden, so I just loaded up as I felt weak and sore.  Liquid was not a problem.  Carried 4 bottles around my waist with my homemade electrolyte special and carried a 24 OZ bottle of water in hand.  Runners thought that was crazy, but having one kidney this was a must.  Plus watching runners choke down the cups is funny to watch.  One guy thinking he had water, threw gatorade over his head to try and cool down.  The first 9 miles were all up hill.  Crazy...Thankfully my long runs had one week of solid hill training.  On Canal Road at the intersection of Foxhall, I was at mile marker 6 and I could see the leaders at mile 9.  There were 5 or 6 in the pack.  Man they are fast!  I also saw several wheel chair runners also.  I have the utmost respect for these participants, especially going up the hills with nothing but arm strength.  These runners were the toughest of the bunch.  Once I hit mile 9, we went through Georgetown and then down to Haines Point.  I kept asking myself, when are we going to reach Haines Point and then I noticed I had been running in Haines Point for two miles already.  Its funny how disoriented I became.  As far as adrenaline pumping bands on the route, I can honestly say the Rumba was the most energizing.  They really kicked it up!  Thanks. 
    From miles 10-19, we finished Haines Point and cruised up to the mall.  As the miles started piling on, all I could think about was seeing my wife and kids!  Then bingo, I glanced into the crowd and saw them at mile 18.  At that point, I headed up to the capital and made the turn and got a chance to see them once again at mile 19.  Thanks guys...I love you!   At this point, I could feel the race was coming to an end as we headed for my least favorite part of the course--miles 22-24--Crystal City or better known as concrete city.  The crowds were nice, but the course was riddled with pot holes and it just sucks!  After exiting CC, I made a pit stop to fill my water bottle.  I couldn't figure out which cups were water at that point.  I stopped and asked a Marine for water and he filled my bottle with gatorade.  He realized I asked for water and said dump it sir and I'll set you straight and he did!  Thanks Marines.  Not only respectful, helpful, but really put on a great event!  I then ventured toward the finish. With two miles to go, we headed on Route 27, toward 110.  On Mile 24, I my calf gave out and I walked for 10 seconds, then moved on.  I started to bonk and just kept telling myself, I only have two more miles on my training run!  Lets do it.   At this point, I just wanted to keep my feet moving.  The crowds were thickening by at least 8 deep and I started cramping pretty bad.  I took my last shot of carb and drink and went for it.  As I reached mile 26, I could see the sign .2 to go and I could see the finish line.  All up hill... I made it up half way and cramped so bad I had to walk for 5 seconds.  I felt so embarrassed, I said screw it and just started running and my cramp went away thank god!
     At the finish line, I was greeted by a young Marine.  She shook my hand and asked how I was doing!  I told her thanks for her service and that "I'm Broken".  As she put the medal around my neck, all I could think of was seeing my kids.  So I looked up and there they were!  I couldn't go to them based on the rules, so I pointed to the festival area and said I would meet them there.  The Marines gave me a warmth blanket, and my food Go Bag.  I immediately drank and drank.  From the finish line to the festival area was about a 1/2 mile.  This was good to work out the cramps by walking.  Noticing that I was a salt filled mess, a young runner came over and asked me if I wanted a salt pill.  I said sure.  She pulled out a white capsule and handed it to me.  I was a bit suspicious, but took it anyway and said thanks!  Life saver...cramps went away within five minutes.  Thanks Austin Girl!  I worked my way down to to the Iwo Jima to get pictures, results table, and then to the Bag pick up area to get changed.  As I was heading down to the Bag pickup area, I dropped a bottle from my belt.  I asked this elderly lady if she didn't mind picking it up because I couldn't bend down.  She obliged and I was very grateful!   Thanks Elderly Lady!  As I picked my bag up, I thought...How the heck am I going to be able to change?  I found a wall with a ledge so I didn't have to bend down.  I leaned my back against the wall and felt a shooting pain from my back (that's another story!).  I was able to change everything but my pant.  Warmth set in and now I needed to find Stacey.  We found each other at the rally point and started the journey home and that was the end of my first marathon!
     I would just like to thank the crowds, the Marines, the support staff, and the runners for such a special experience.  I would also like to deeply thank my family and friends for the support and no more facebook posts I promise...well maybe not so  Finally, Thanks Honey for putting up with me and Marina, JuJu, and John for having a single parent for the better part of the last 2 months.  I love you....See you in NYC 2012!
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