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!
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