Wednesday, July 23, 2014

50K FUN – Glow in the dark race shirts

In all of my training, my goals remain the same – get stronger, faster, and be able to run farther. However, my sister, Denise, and many other running friends have reminded me to RUN HAPPY! As well, my favorite shoe manufacturer, Brooks, has probably mentioned that as well. :)

This was the year that I was going to jump from the 25K to the 50K for El Scorcho! It’s pretty easy to keep track of 5 – 5K loops, but 10 was going to need to be creative.

GLOW IN THE DARK RACE SHIRTS

20140712_150651One thing I wanted to do was to have FUN during this race.  I knew that it was going to be a tough one.  As I was running those long summer training run I thought a lot about how to make the race fun.  I kept thinking about how to count down the laps.  I thought Sharpie hash marks on my arm could work, but I wanted something a bit more FUN! 

After running 18 miles a round a high school track for Relay for Life it dawned on me of how much I loved changing into a dry shirt.  I then figured I’d change my shirt with every lap.  Every shirt would have the number of laps that I’d have to go.  So, I’d start with 10, then 9, duck tape8, 7… until I got to 1.  I used Glow in the Dark Duck Tape that I bought at Walmart.  I had the number on the front and back of the shirt.  I wanted to be seen coming and going.  In all, it took 4 and a half rolls of tape.  The Glow in the Dark tape does not come as the usual 20 yards, but a shortened 10 feet.  It was kind of costly to do this art project, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Up above and below are the shirts as I laid them out before heading to Fort Worth. I placed them on the dining room chairs to get them to charge up.

20140712_181109

During the race in the darker parts of the course, I looked down to see if I could see the number on my shirt.  I could definitely see it glowing.  I’m wondering if others noticed it and noticed the countdown.  If you saw me and the numbered shirts, let me.

There were a couple of women near the finish line that hollered at me, “Go number 10”, then at the next loop, “Go number 9”. I had to told them about counting down the laps.  They caught on and starting yelling out how many laps that I had to go.  They must’ve been running the 25K because I didn’t see them anymore with half of the laps to go.

Thanks to my family, they always had the next shirt ready to go.  I never had to dig it out or find it.  It was funny at one point when my wife told me that she couldn’t find shirt #3. I told her exactly which shirt it was, color and cut… and she was able to find it.  I think I was looking forward toward each shirt more than anything.  The luxury of a dry shirt is incredible!

Race Photos

There aren’t too many races where I purchase the race photos, but I had to for this race for a couple of reasons.  1) 10 Wardrobe changes! 2) the finish with my daughter 3)  and 36 photos which came out to a reasonable price for the medium resolution download.

0089 Shirt 10 – Lap 1
Miles 0 – 3.1

9-2

Shirt 9 – Lap 2
Miles 3.1 – 6.2

8-2 Shirt 8 – Lap 3
Miles 6.2 – 9.3

7-5 Shirt 7 – Lap 4
Miles 9.3 – 12.4

6-4Shirt 6 – Lap 5
Miles 12.4 – 15.5

5-2Shirt 5 – Lap 6
Miles 15.5 – 18.6

4-1-cropped Shirt 4 – Lap 7
Miles 18.6 – 21.7

3-1 
Shirt 3 – Lap 8
Miles 21.7 – 24.8

2-2 Shirt 2 – Lap 9
Miles 24.8 – 27.9

1-3Shirt 1 – Lap 10
Miles 27.9 – 31 FINISH

Get stronger, faster, and be able to run farther… and RUN HAPPY!

Monday, July 21, 2014

El Scorcho 50K Recap

El Scorcho 50K lived up to everything that it had to offer… anticipation, training challenges, fear, doubt, FUN, heat, relief, and elation.  There are so many other words to describe this race, but you have to do the 50K at least once.  CHECK… I’m good!

I did the El Scorcho 25K for the last 3 years and figured it was time to jump up to the 50K. I was definitely nervous when I clicked on that register button.  I knew that there’d be a lot of early morning training runs.  Most of my training runs started in the 4am hour to beat the heat.

20140713_034538Chris

Chris and I got our packets on Friday with a longer than usual lunch.  After we got our packets, we took a drive over to Trinity Park. I showed Chris where the Start/Finish line would be.  It was so crazy weird to see this park during the day. Chris and I have been running and carpooling for quite awhile.  He’s been hearing about El Scorcho for the last few years that he had to see what this insanity was all about.

It was great to see Chris run his farthest distance of 25K while tackling El Scorcho.  The pride was all over his face as he finished!

GLOW IN THE DARK RACE SHIRTS

20140712_150651 As you might’ve noticed, I bolded the word FUN up above.  One thing I wanted to do was to have FUN during this race.  I figured I’d change my shirt with every lap.  Every shirt would have the number of laps that I’d have to go.  So, I’d start with 10, then 9, 8, 7… until I got to 1.  I used Glow in the Dark Duck Tape that I bought at Walmart.  I had the number on the front and back of the shirt.  I wanted to be seen coming and going. 

To right are the shirts as I laid them out before heading to Fort Worth. I will have an upcoming blog post that will go into a little more detail and pictures of the shirts.

The Race

I chose to go with the early start so that I could start at a decent hour… 10pm versus midnight. As well, it seemed that most 50K runners were starting at that time.  I also wanted to have the cushion of 2 more hours to finish the race.  I didn’t want a 6 hour limit hanging over my head as my goal finish was between 5:30 and 6:00.  Those times seemed very reasonable.  I’ve completed one other 50K at the Cowtown Ultra Marathon. The difference being is that this race was in July vs. February.

I wanted to run at a 9:00 min/mile pace and then rest at each loop when I saw my family.  As well, I’d be changing my shirts.  That was the original plan, but that 9:00 min/mile pace was pretty hard to keep.

Splits-1-15Above is my Strava details of the race. It shows 30.7 miles because I didn’t turn on my Garmin until after the race started. Yeah, I freaked out a bit. I really do like have the numbers to look at to see how I’m doing.

The first half of the race I pretty much kept up with my plan… run 9:00 min/mile.  You can see when I took longer breaks every hour to get GU and Endurolytes.

It was fun changing shirts every lap. It gave me something to look forward to and the dryness of the shirt was very welcoming.  I think if I wore the same shirt that it’d be totally drenched!

Lighting

The first few laps were pretty uneventful and easy. I opted to not run with a headlamp. I have a few headlamps and a really good one, but I don’t like wearing them in the heat. Anything on my head during the heat tends to give me a headache. I did carry a small little halogen flashlight that I used occasionally. I had it in my pocket which was 30% annoying as it bounced around a bit.  I did finally toss the light about half way through the race. 

There was a brilliant full mount which was pretty cool to light up the way.  I also relied on other’s headlamps here and there.  It was almost like sharing their umbrella on a rainy day, but less intrusive.

The course was pretty smooth/flat except for a few spots that had a lot of erosion type of crevices.  After a few laps you knew exactly where those spots were coming up.

Tank Tops & Compression Sleeves

4-1-cropped I strategically numbered my glow in the dark race shirts. All of them were the thinnest running shirts that I had.  As well, I had a few that were tank tops. I normally don’t wear tank tops, singlets, or sleeveless shirts since I don’t think I have the guns for them. However, in the dark, anything goes except for shirtless running.  With 3 tank tops available, I placed them at loops 4, 3, and 2. I wanted to finish in last year’s El Scorcho short sleeve shirt.

After 6 laps (18.6 miles) I was really looking forward to a tank top.  Another reason that I’m not crazy about tank tops is that since I don’t wear them, I’m usually sporting a farmer’s tan.  It was an awesome feeling to get that tank top on. It symbolized that I was on the downhill of the race or was it the uphill… not sure.

I also took this break as an opportunity to get my CEP compression sleeves on. Oh, I love these things!  It was like a nice warm hug!

Family Support

I cannot brag enough on my family! Ursula, Briana, and Briana’s boyfriend, Chris came out to cheer me on!  Cairo had to work both Saturday and Sunday.  Cairo’s been there at previous El Scorcho races.

We set up camp right after the finish line. I was really surprised when my family always seemed to be there waiting for me. Heck, they could of been dosing off and catching some ZZZzzzzz’s. They were always ready to help me change my shirt. I never had to look for the next one.  They also had my drinks, GU, and Endurolytes ready to go.

Splits16-finish Besides the physical help, they were full of encouragement.  When I had three laps to go, I was moaning and groaning to my wife about the pain and not wanting to be at the race anymore.  She told me that I could do it and it was ONLY 3 more loops. It sounds easier if you say 3 laps instead of 9.3 miles.  :)  She wanted to see me finish this craziness to the end.  I’m so thankful for her selflessness of being there for 5 hours and 41 minutes to only see me for 30 seconds to a few minutes at a time.  She rocks!

During the last few laps I started walking during strategic points along the course. This is especially true with the one hill/incline that was before a water stop and a couple of other points.

Erik Encouragment

I was moaning and groaning again when I had 2 laps left to go.  Actually there was a lot of negative talk in my head for those last laps.  I kept telling myself that I did the training and shut up. I was going to finish this race even if I had to walk the last 2 laps.

When I was changing my shirt with 2 laps to go, I was complaining to my friend, Erik.  I said, “Why am I here?” He said, “You’ve done the training, you’re strong, and you’re awesome!” He said it in such a quiet, but powerful way. It was energizing to hear it from him.  He probably doesn’t know the impact that he had on me, but it was huge!

JEFF!

20140713_034439-cropped I’ve been running with Jeff for quite awhile with the Frisco Running Club. On our Wednesday night and Saturday morning runs, we’ve talked about my upcoming El Scorcho 50K race.  We talked about how he might come run the last couple of laps with me. I really didn’t think he’d come to Fort Worth from Frisco at 2am to run 3 or 6 miles with me.  That’s a long drive at an ungodly hour to run a short distance.

When I didn’t see him with 2 laps to go, I really didn’t think anything of it. I know that I’d have a hard time dragging myself out there at the crazy time!

Below is a video of me which captured my unbelief that he came out for the race. I really couldn’t believe it! I love my running friends! I couldn’t help, but scream out in pure joy that he was there!  CRAZY COOL!

It was awesome to have Jeff along for the last lap. He tried to give me some tax advice and accounting jokes. We’ve got a long history of doing this to each other. The conversation and emotional boost was tremendous!

Briana Finish

Before Jeff showed up, I mentioned to Briana that I’d love for her to finish the last mile with me.  With Jeff showing up, Briana thought she was off the hook. However, I was still hoping she would finish this out with me.  She showed up at the water station that I asked her to meet me at.  You can tell her reluctance, but she begrudgingly came along for the end of the journey.  I assured her that I was not sprinting and we were taking walk breaks.

We were running for awhile and she tells me that she doesn’t have her sports bra. 30 miles into this race and I’m not really sure how to process this bit of information.  I told her that we’d be taking a walk break during the next water station.

1-3As we were walking past that water station, Jeff was making friends and talking it up.  Briana asked me when we were going to start running again. I told her that we’d start running once Jeff notices that we’re still walking. I also told her that at this point finishing 1-2 minutes sooner would not make any difference at all. Finishing upright and happy was the goal. That goal was within reach as we saw the red glow of the finish line clock.  Nothing looks better than those red numbers which you can see about a half mile away.

As we neared the finish, Briana got a bunch whoops and Gig Em’s! Very cool! I told her that we needed to finish strong and we sprinted toward the finish line. I let out the second primal scream of the night as we crossed the finish line!

It was the perfect ending to an incredible race! Thank you, Briana, for stepping out of your comfort zone!

Briana also manned the video camera throughout the night capturing all of the wardrobe changes. :)  Below is a video of the night’s happenings.

If anyone asks why I do the things I do… it’s because of moments that I shared with Ursula, Briana, Erik, and Jeff. You cannot experience all that life has for you unless you get out… get out of your comfort zone and live life!

Friday, May 9, 2014

OKC Marathon Recap

I’m a bit late with recapping the OKC Marathon that I ran a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t really have the race I was hoping for.  All in all, it was a decent race for having minimal training after being off from my bum knee.  The weather definitely didn’t help, but I’ll get into that in a moment.

20140426_164015I’ve run the OKC Half Marathon a couple of times in the early days of my short running career.  The only thing that I recall from those previous races was the southern wind. I would not be disappointed, the wind was definitely in full effect.

Ursula accompanied me on the trip.  She was super happy after she found a pair of bits at the Shepler’s near the hotel.  Note to self: take Ursula shopping for boots before the race.  :)

Leading up to race morning there was a lot of anticipation about the weather.  This is a norm for most marathons, but more so with this one as there was a storm front developing.

The Wait

20140427_065739 The forecast held true as there was a 2 hour delay for the race. Normally it starts at 6:30am, but we didn’t get going until 8:20.  As you can tell, I wasn’t happy with the delayed start.  When I get up in the 4-o-clock hour, I’m ready to get the party started!  We pretty much had to wait out the storm in a parking garage.  There was lots of angry thunder and lightning happening!  You could definitely feel a cold front come through.  The cooler temps didn’t stick around for long.

1941380_10152147750415892_3124354081147487691_o While waiting in the parking garage I got to make new friends.  I love how all runners have a common bond of their training and their goals.  Once we were signaled that the race was going to start, we were on the way out of the parking garage.  Right before we were about to get out of the parking garage we were stopped.  From where I was standing, I could barely make out the helmets of a procession of firefighters marching to the Start Line.  It was very poignant as all of the runners in the parking garage started to applaud the firefighters.  This was worth the experience of waiting out the storm.  Next was the national anthem.  We could hear it through the PA system.   What was even better was when the women started singing along.  It sounded so awesome in the parking garage that I got chills from it.  I never thought that the national anthem would sound so good in a parking garage… must’ve been the acoustics.  I later learned or figured out that the firefighters walked the Half Marathon route with their full gear.  Crazy cool!

The Race

I had high hopes and expectations that I could hit a Sub-4 hour time in this race.  I think I should have wrote this off from the get go because of the 2 hour delay.  The forecast was calling for temps in the 80s.  I was a bit stubborn and didn’t listen to my head until my body told me too.

SplitsThe early going of the race was very crowded because of the delayed start.  People definitely didn’t line up in the appropriate corrals since we all just headed to the start line instead of the assigned corrals.  This meant a bit more dodging in the beginning couple of miles.  I love when a race thins out so I can get into a comfortable race pace.

The delayed race threw off my pre-race potty routine.  I could’ve used another porta-potty stop before the race started, but decided against it since I really needed to get this race started.  I didn’t need to go that badly, but knew that I wouldn’t stop until after the Half Marathoners split off from the combined course. I finally decided to hit a stop after mile 11.

Back on track after the stop, I could definitely feel the heat of the day.  I was pretty much dripping in sweat by this time.  In a way I looked forward to running into the wind as we were going to be heading south for the majority of the remaining of the race.

Once we started heading south around mile 14, I definitely had different thoughts about the 20+mph winds.  The resistance and the havoc that it was playing on my breathing was something else!

I really wanted Ursula to enjoy coming to OKC for the race weekend so we just planned for her to come to mile 20 and the finish. I think it was about mile 12 that I started counting down to when I would see her… only 8 miles until I get to see her, 6 miles, 2 miles, etc. :)

I took a couple of walk breaks before I got to see her at mile at 19.  Once I saw her, I was pretty well spent.  We talked for a bit and she gave me some great encouragement.  Next stop was the finish line.  There seemed to be a greater number of water stops for this race.  I made sure to keep my hydration up while going through them.

Funny thing that I saw during some neighborhood miles in the 20-something miles… there was a Jack Russell Terrier dog that was following along with the runners for at least a mile or so. It was so funny to see him just running with everyone.  I looked for an owner of the dog, but didn’t really see one that was calling out for him or that he was following.  He was just having a good old time.  The looks from the race spectators were priceless.  I wonder what the story was about that dog.  Did he ever get back home?

I love the ability to see the finish line from a far way off.  It gets me to that darn finish line!  As I was running through the finishing chute, I heard someone yell out, “Go Johnny Marathon!'”  Very cool since I was wearing my black A&M shirt.

Post Race

20140427_130315 20140427_130354

It was great meeting up with Ursula after the race. The heat really affected me as I felt like crap… more than usual after a marathon.  I was so glad that I found a place to sit. :)  I couldn’t believe that someone threw out some perfectly good ice on the ground between a couple of trash cans.  After plopping down in the ice, I got a lot of laughs and a bunch of comments. My favorite comment was “The throne of champions!”  I had to move over to make room for another marathoner.

I didn’t have the race that I wanted, but I had the experiences and memories that I’ll cherish forever.  Thanks so much to Ursula as she drove us back to Frisco.  I normally cannot sleep in a car, but that day was definitely an exception.

DRC10Mile-SplitsThe DRC White Rock n Roll 10 Mile Race

I always like to hit a 10 miler the week after a marathon, just remind my body who’s boss.  However, I usually don’t race those 10 miles.  I knew that I’d be running on heavy legs and wanted to hit a race pace of 8:00 per mile.  I pretty much nailed that pace.  At first, I felt sluggish the first few miles, but everything fell in place.

I love the feeling of being able to run a race that you had planned.  Yes, you cannot predict what’s going to happen on race day, but there’s no better feeling when it comes together.  I really needed this race to make me feel better about the last bunch of weeks of training.  It’s crazy how much running is mental as it is physical.  I love this crazy sport!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marathon Week – OKC Version

banner I love Marathon Week!  The anticipation before a marathon is like nothing else!  I’m so looking forward to what Sunday has in store for me at the Oklahoma City Marathon. I’ve run the half marathon there a couple of times, but haven’t tried the full marathon. After being laid off for awhile, I wanted one last time to knock out another marathon before the summer heat arrives.  It’s almost here in Texas!

My plan is to average 8:40 per mile to comfortably get under 4 hours.  I’ll be happy with anything with a 3 as a front number.  If everything gets stupid, I’ll be happy with finishing my 13th marathon.  I really do plan on enjoying the race.  Run quick with a smile!

Ursula and I will probably go down memory lane as we used to live in the OKC area when I was in the Air Force at Tinker Air Force Base.  It’s always cool to drive by where you used to live and visit familiar places.

Here are some Marathon Week Pre-Race Rituals that I go through to get mentally prepared for a marathon:

If you’d like to track me on my progress, you can register for Runner Tracking here.  My bib number is 1976.  It would’ve been even cooler if it was 1967.  :)  I’ll also be posting my splits on my Facebook timeline.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Marathons are Addictive! @OKCMarathon

1968-132014 Creative_4 I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks as my running has become more natural after being laid off from running for 5 weeks. I’ve only been training for the last 6 weeks, but feel that I can knock out a marathon before the summer months. I know that it won’t be an optimal race, but I’m really itching for a big race.

I’ve signed up for the Oklahoma City Marathon which is on April 27th. It’s just a little over 17 days to go before the race gets here. I ran the Half Marathon there a couple of times back in 2009 & 2010. I definitely enjoyed the race environment back then.

The run that pushed me over the top of going to OKC was my destination run to my in-laws. They moved here last summer and I always knew that I was going to run to their house. I’ve been scoping out safe routes to their house for quite awhile.  The route from Frisco to Lucas is 18 miles long with the last 3 miles being the worse.  The bad things about those 3 miles is that there are no sidewalks, a very narrow shoulder on the road, 50mph speed limit, blind spots, and there’s no other road to their house.  Even though the last part of the route was a challenge, the windy rainy conditions posed to be quite the pain. I almost stopped at mile 10 as the rain really came down. I’m glad that I didn’t stop.  It was awesome to get the finish line of my in-laws house. Below is a little recap of the run from Strava.

Looking forward to my 13th marathon experience up in Oklahoma in two and a half weeks.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It’s been a while

I hate writing one of those “it’s been a while” blog posts, but it’s been a while.  The last I posted was about completing the Houston Marathon. I learned that I actually pushed through that race with a strained MCL. Not as bad as the doctor originally thought, but it still laid me off for 5 weeks from running. Those 5 weeks seemed like torture.  Ursula couldn’t wait for me to stop complaining and get back out on the road or trails.

Getting back into running has been a challenge. I’ve felt sluggish and so out of shape. I trained for about 4 weeks getting back some base mileage to be able to run the Grasslands Trail Half Marathon.

Grasslands Trail Half Marathon

0087-cropped I felt so darn sluggish during that race. It had a lot more elevation challenges than I remembered from the previous year. I don’t think I remembered them from last year because there was more walking through the slip-sliding mud that was happening.

During the race, I kept pushing myself beyond what I was truly comfortable with.  I walked a few of the steeper inclines… always a nice place to walk if you’re going to walk. About 4-6 people would pass me during that point. I’d get back to running and in turn I’d pass them again. After doing this a few times, I decided it’d be best if I just caught the pace of one of the guys that I kept passing. I needed to run comfortably and enjoy the race. I kept pace with a guy named Geoff. We hit it off with some great conversation. Our kids are about the same age and we shared about our professional lives. I really enjoyed our conversations as it truly kept my mind elsewhere.

Trail Biking

20140324_192756 The other thing that I’ve been getting into is MTB or trail biking.  I’m not sure if I can use the term Mountain Bike Riding here in flat Texas. 

I’m riding on the same trails that I used to run on.  Well, I’m still running them at times, but it’s definitely more fun riding them.  It’s also a bit scarier when riding them.  The falls or crashes seem to hurt more when riding. I had my first big spill last month, but have bounced back onto the trails.  I seem to be getting the hang of it.

20140314_093423 For my birthday, I rented Cairo a bike and he joined me.  That was an awesome birthday!  I really do enjoy getting out there and enjoying the trails.  I think he liked riding the trails better than running them.  However, he wasn’t up for me purchasing him a bike.

When it comes to birthday gifts, I’ll always take experiences over gifts.  I’ll never forget this ride with Cairo!  Thanks, Cairo!

Here’s a video of me getting to see George W. Bush zooming by with his Secret Service dudes behind him.  Excuse the language in the video.  You can barely see G.W., but you get the point. :)

I’ve got some blog posts rolling around in my head.  I felt like I needed to get this one posted before getting new ones out there.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Houston Marathon Recap

58885_10152124925434356_691858261_n I went into the Houston Marathon knowing that I wasn’t 100% physically conditioned and injury free.  I only had a few good runs on my knee since the New Years Eve bowling mishap.  However, I still thought that I could crack the 4 hour time.  I really wanted to do this so that I could experience the first Sub-4 Hour marathon for a fellow runner friend of mine, Matt Gray.  He wanted to hit that goal, but he wasn’t completely injury free either.

Saturday’s Happenings

The Drive

Ursula and I left our house early and headed to pick up one of my best cheerleaders, my daughter Briana.  It was a nice uneventful drive down to College Station.  After we picked up Briana, we made our way over to the A&M college campus.  I wanted to see if I could pick up a new marathon race shirt.  This is one of my favorite things to do for a marathon… get a new race shirt. I found an awesome black A&M Under Armour shirt that I fell in love with.  Knowing that we’re only 90 minutes from College Station I knew that there’d be a lot of Aggies to cheer me on.  I was definitely not disappointed!  I knew that I would need the extra encouragement on the course for this race.

Expo

When we arrived in Houston, we parked near the hotel and walked to the race expo.  It was a fun expo being the right size.  I was good and did not buy anything.  That was pretty much a first for me.  I was going to get my knee taped up by the KT Tape people, but there was about a 30 minute wait.  I’m not very good at waiting so I figured I could do it myself since their online videos are really helpful.  Ursula actually had fun at this race expo... she found a place where they were giving $20 haircuts.  My race haircuts are catching on!!!!  She loves cutting hair as much as I love running.  The entire time that I walked the expo floor, she watched and studied the techniques of the hair stylists.  She had a great time in her own way.  As well, I had a good time walking around with Briana.  She even picked up a pair of pink running shoes for $40.  Score!

Interview

387-cropped As we were walking away from the expo we saw a news crew standing at the corner.  Lo and behold, the local Fox news channel reporter asked me a series of questions.  It was pretty cool to be interviewed.  He asked about the heightened security measures since the Boston Marathon.  He also asked general questions about why I run.  I don’t think much of my interview made the news, but Ursula’s cousin saw a few seconds of it and took a picture of the TV screen.  Below is a video that Briana took on her phone.  The video and audio aren’t that great, but you get the idea.

What!?! No bath tub!?!

20140118_152623 One thing that I believe in is having an ice bath after a marathon.  Even though the freezing cold is a killer, I really think that my recovery is sped up by it.  On the way to Houston I grabbed a couple of bags of ice in anticipation of the post-marathon ice bath. I figured bringing the ice in my cooler would be so much easier than trying to deal with the hotel ice machines. As well, we were staying downtown, so there weren’t going to be any nearby convenient stores.

We got checked into the lovely Embassy Suites.  This is one of my favorite hotels as I love their made to order omelets.  We got to our room and checked everything out.  The over my budget room was definitely nice, except for one major problem.  There was no bath tub, but a shower.  Yikes!  Really!?!  I called down to the front desk to see if I could get another room.  They said that their double rooms had tubs, but unfortunately the entire hotel was booked because of the race.  Ughh!  I wasn’t going to fret about this since it was post race and not going to mess with the actual race.  However, I never thought of asking the hotel if there’d be a tug in the room.  In previous marathons that I travelled to, the tub was there.  This is something that I’ll be checking out for future race hotels.

Dinner #1

We had a wonderful carbo-loading meal with our Frisco Running Club friends at Maggiano’s.  There was definitely plenty of food to consume.  I’m sure that I ate my fill of bread and spaghetti.  We had a lot of laughs in preparation for the next morning.

Dinner #2

While all of the other runners headed to their hotels to try to sleep, we headed over to Ursula’s cousin’s house for our second dinner. :)  It was great visiting with Christi, Kem, Christi’s co-worker, and Uncle Phil.  I told myself that we’d stay about an hour until 8:30 or so.  I was paying attention to the time, but next thing you know it’s 10:00pm.  We were all having a great time. One thing that I really want is for Ursula and Briana to enjoy themselves while we go to these running events.  I wasn’t too worried about the amount of sleep that I’d be getting.  I’m usually too excited to sleep anyway.

SUNDAY!

Group Photo

1507359_10201428259210207_1116769963_o I got up pretty early to get ready for the race. I snuck out the room to allow Briana a few more minutes of sleep before Ursula would get her up. I walked over to another hotel where all of the Frisco Running Club members would meet.  We were definitely excited and rearing to go.  The three-something guys made our way to the race corrals.  The starting corrals were very interesting as they only allowed one corral in at a time.  We were all Corral A so we were in line first.  The other corrals had to wait at the side streets.  That was the first time that I saw this type of setup.  We only had to wait a few minutes before we crossed the start line.

Miles 1-6

image I love the marathon start! There’s so much excitement and anticipation in the air!  You cannot help but get caught up in it.  The start was crowded, but unbelievably comfortable. We actually had room to run and we weren’t always trying to get around people.  I loved this start!  We all talked about running 9:00-9:15 at the beginning miles, however, we had to keep reeling ourselves back as we were doing better than this pace.  Sub-9 minute pace for the beginning miles.  My thought was that we were definitely banking some time on our way to Sub-4 hours.  We saw our families somewhere during the sixth mile.  It was great seeing them!  As we started back running, this is the first time that I felt pain in my knee.

Miles 7-17

image Getting back into the run of the things was pretty good, but I kept thinking about my stupid knee.  I was doing pretty well, but as I was watching Matt McGhee and Jeff running, they looked so effortless and further out/faster than I wanted to run.  I was hitting sub-9 minutes, but they were really hitting sub-8:50’s.  At one point, I think I told Matt McGhee that I wouldn’t be able to keep the current pace up for the whole race.

I told myself to run comfortably and run my race.  My times were slowly slipping with each mile.  I felt bad for Matt Gray as he had hopes of hitting Sub-4 hours.  He was staying with me instead of Matt and Jeff.  I really wanted him to break that goal.

During the 15th mile I decided to respond to nature’s call and take a squat.  It was definitely needed.  I told Matt to go on without me.  The last thing I told him was to run comfortably and enjoy the race.

Inner voice thoughts:  It’s really weird to not to be able to run at a pace that I was able to run just 9 months before when I was at my peak.  It’s weird to even think that I ran a marathon at a 8:22 pace.  Yes, I know I’ll be back, but this is the crap that goes through your head when you’re in the moment.

It was during mile 17 that I saw Ursula, Briana, and Christi again.  My knee pain was really flaring up at this point.  It was the first time that I considered quitting the race, however, I didn’t tell them.  I just told them that I was in pain and couldn’t believe that I had 10 more miles to go.  They were an awesome encouragement!

When I started back up running after seeing them, the pain was tremendous.  I almost turned around and went back to them, but didn’t.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Shortly after seeing them, I saw them again driving by me.  They waved from the comfort of the car.  I again thought about telling them that I quit, but I came all this way… I wanted to finish despite the pain.

Miles 18-23

image I alternated between running and walking during the next few miles.  I kept telling myself to get to mile 20 and then it’s only a fricking 10K.  That sounded very appealing at that time!  During this stretch of miles I made peace with myself.  I told myself to just shut up and enjoy the day.  It was a beautiful day and it was a wonderful race.  Not every race that I run is going to be a PR or going to be perfectly executed.  My only job for the rest of the race was to enjoy it.  Back during miles 7-17, I stopped joking and having fun.  Now was the time to quit wallowing in self-pity and enjoy the marathon experience.  I started to play along with the spectators, enjoying their signs and encouragement.  One of the signs said to touch here for power.  I pretended that I could barely get to the sign, but once I tapped the sign, I sprinted after touching it.  It was fun again!  You’ve got to find your joy during periods of pain.

I loved all of the Aggie love that I got.  It was a great decision to wear the A&M shirt.

1012816_10152124727984356_1948024082_n-cropped During mile 22, I got to see my family again.  It was so good to see them!  I complained about the pain some more and they did their job of encouraging me to finish.  I started back up running and loved it when Briana joined me for a bit.  She got to run with me during a point where there were a lot of spectators.  It’s so awesome to get caught up in the cheering that you forget about the soreness and the pain.  I loved running with her at my side.  It was one of biggest highlights of the race.  I think we ran together for about a quarter mile.  She swears that it was a mile.  :)

At just about the point when I told her that she should run back, here comes the 4:15 marathon pacer.  I made a joke to her about not passing me.  I stayed with her for a while, but I had to get back to my run/walk pattern.  I really wanted to stay with her as I thought 4:15 would be pretty darn cool!  The conversation with her was great.  I enjoyed our time together, but unfortunately after walking through one of the water stops, I couldn’t keep up.

Miles 24-Finish

imageThe final miles of a marathon always seem to take forever.  This race was no different.  I allowed myself some good walking during the 25th mile and was going to walk some during the 26th mile.  However, the 26th mile became a grin and bear it mile.  I struck up a conversation with a younger guy and we talked about how we just wanted to get the race over with.  I really had planned on walking a bit so that I could finish strong, but I just kept talking and running.  Then it became show time when there were more and more spectators lining the streets.  I didn’t want to walk, but run.  Seeing the finish line was awesome!  What a welcome sight!  I had so much fun with the crowds… yes, I thought they were cheering just for me.  I thought of Cairo, my son, as I was finishing… I kicked it out for a Cross Country style finish!  I missed him during the race as he had to work, but I’m sure he would’ve been proud of my finish.

Post-Race

It was great catching up with Ursula, Briana, and Christi after the race.  I was so glad that they really seemed to enjoy themselves.  I know that this not Ursula’s favorite thing to do… follow me around during a race with all of the street closures and figuring out where I’m at.  I’m so glad that she love me as she does!  It was super helpful having Christi drive the Houston streets.  Thanks, cuz!

 Running Into Meb

20140120_102346 We stayed Sunday night as I really didn’t want to have to rush home after the race.  It’s fun to just enjoy yourself after the race.  When we were packing up the car… who do we see running on the sidewalk?  None other than Meb Keflezighi!  I couldn’t help, but yell out, MEB!  He was super nice as he stopped to talk to us.  I congratulated him on his race as he won the Houston Half Marathon with a time of 1:01:23.  Incredible time!  He was very humble and asked about my race.  I told him about my knee and he mentioned ways to strengthen your leg muscles.  It was very surreal getting to meet him. 

There were long lines at the marathon expo to meet him.  This chance meeting was so cool.  It was fun to watch as he ran off from us.  What looked like a sprint to us was probably a nice cool down as his hotel was only a couple of blocks away from us.  What a way to end the marathon weekend!

My 12th marathon was quite the experience!  It was everything that a marathon is hyped up to be.  It cracks me up when people ask me about my time… it’s not just about the clock time, but what happens before, during, and after.  I enjoyed the heck out of those 4 hours and 27 minutes!  :)

I’ll find out in the next couple of days about my knee.  I know that I didn’t do myself any favors by running on it.