Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cleveland Marathon from HER Perspective!

As many know, I’ve been on this running kick for the last 4 years because of my sister, Denise.  Yes, I blame her!  I blame my other two sisters for my other quirky behaviors.  :)

I bugged Denise to give me her race recap so that I can share it with everyone.  I really believe that there are so many awesome stories behind those finishing times.  One of my favorite pastimes is reading race recaps.

Before I get into he race recap.  I am so jealous of this girl… she just seems to have this ability to NOT look like she just ran a marathon.  She looks good walking, skipping, climbing steps, or getting out of the car.  As for me, WHERE’S my ice bath!  Here’s a video of us after the Cleveland Marathon.

So, now for Denise’s race recap…

Yes, Spectators I read your signs.

97737-065-008fI signed up for the Cleveland Marathon since my brother was coming in from Texas to run the marathon. It is something that we have in common and can share and inspire each other. I usually pace the Cleveland Marathon but I thought this year it would be fun if we both ran the full. No, we don’t share the same pace but we would be running the full course separately together.

I did not train like I would normally do, not that I did not want to but life sometimes just gets in the way. So going into the marathon I was already anxious with lack of training and concerned whether I was able to finish at all. I was on weather alert about a week before the race. Watching the weather forecast get warmer and warmer, but I thought hey this is Cleveland it could change. Not this time. It was going to be a hot start. I am not at all a hot weather runner. So I had to have a strategy and/or a backup plan, perhaps an escape route. `

97737-3068-025f-2Race morning was all about doing this. Getting it together. Staying positive. Staying focused. Weather was going to be hot. So now what? Okay, game plan. Instead of trying to run an easy pace I decided to run nice and strong early on and bank the extra time figuring that the heat would get to me slow me down or put me out of the race. This would be doing the very opposite of everything we are taught when we are training for a marathon. We are taught to start off slow and then you can pick up the pace and finish the race strong. Okay so much for clear headed thinking.

I really wanted to see my friend, Libby before the start of the race to wish her luck as she was doing the half. We have trained and shared a lot of road and trail miles together. We texted our locations back and forth but never was able to connect. I said good bye and good luck to my brother knowing he would be finish well before I would. I am now in line around the 4:55 pace group. I started to panic, I really need to see a familiar face, someone who knew me, I needed to see ….no way! Libby! Thank you, Lord. We hugged each other good luck. And I knew I was going to be okay. Passing the start line, I hear someone call my name and it was her boyfriend Eric! Woo Hoo! I am riding this wave! YES I got this!

97737-065-007fDear God, give me a sign. And God did, it said Go Runner. Yes that’s me! Woo Hoo. You can do it!, said another sign. As I ran my name might have been Mary, Sharon or whatever name that was on the sign. Some were funny and some were silly. But I read every one of them.

Dear God, It’s hot out today. Guess you know that, right? Could you make it rain, Lord?

No? Ok. Water stop. Ok. Thank you, Lord. Oh no! They have run out of cups as I now see runners cupping their hands together for a drink of water. I was grateful that I carried my water bottle with me.

I received the following text from my son during the race. Go! Go! Go!

Keep going Denise. Your brother is just up ahead. Keep going. Hey that’s cool, a priest is blessing us with holy water as we run by. I smile. It’s hot. Maybe I should go back and get blessed again with holy water, ha maybe I could go faster.

I hear my phone ring, do I answer that? Don’t look. Save your breathing. Conserve energy. Focus.

2012-05-20 13.05.24How long is this race anyways? Is it too late to just do the half? Look over there (a sign) …You are strong!_insert name …how clever I thought. I love signs. I wish I could remember them all. Mile after mile. People cheered and held their signs. The thing I can tell you is that, yes, Spectators I read your signs. Thank you. Thank you for being out there. Thank you for believing in me. I finished this race. I did it! Every time that I cross the finish line feels like the first time. I am strong. Thank you Lord for carrying me to the finish line. I could not have done it without you.

Just minutes after I crossed the finish line, I received a text from my son, with a picture of my running partner. I smile as it is a picture of Jackson my Weimarunner. Thank you, Adam.

Thanks Denise for your race recap and getting me into this crazy sport!  Love you and this sport!

Friday, May 25, 2012

THANKS Woodlands Marathon!

I don’t want to be biased, but I will… I not only love The Woodlands Marathon because I PR’ed there with my Sub-4 Hour marathon, but because they were true to their word.  After the marathon, they handed out the finisher shirts, unfortunately, they ran out of popular sizes.  They ran out of medium shirts and handed me a large.  This was really just a minor irritant in the grand scheme of life, but I was slightly bummed.

People on Facebook we were even more bummed.  There were several negative posts on the race page on Facebook.  The race officials advised anyone that didn’t get a shirt or their size was wrong to email them.

2012-05-24 16.18.02It might have a taken a couple of months, but I finally got my medium size finisher’s shirt.  I will wear it proudly! 

This is a huge gesture by the race to get additional shirts and then to mail them out.

Thanks to the race committee for delivering on race day and beyond!

I’m definitely considering running this race again next year.  I liked the course, the size of the race, the location and of course, the shirt!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trail Running with Denise & Dad

A couple of days after running the Cleveland Marathon, Denise and I took my dad out for a 5 mile trail run.  He’s done this particular trail with my sister about a year ago.  So, it’s been awhile since he’s hit the trails.  For a 73 year old youngster, he did awesome!  It was so much fun!

I felt like such a kid running trails!  As you can see in the video, the kid in my dad came out as well. :)  I plan on mixing in trails in my training and then I’d like to do a 25K trail race in the fall.

Denise and I enjoyed spending some special time with my dad.  It was so cool that he’d hang out with us.  Cardio is not his favorite thing.  He’d rather pump iron anytime.  This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Cleveland.

We ran at the Everett Road Covered Bridge in Peninsula, OH which is near Akron.  Beautiful hilly location… I loved it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cleveland Marathon–Texas Hot #CLEMarathon

Super happy to have completed my 8th marathon at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. There are so many different emotions about this race.  I’ve anticipated it for quite awhile since I was asked to blog about my training and all.  I had some high expectations for it after coming off my Sub-4 hour marathon in March.

Expectations

After running so many races in so many different race conditions, I really need to adjust my expectations before the race starts.  My mind has been set on hitting a new PR with a time of 3:55 since March.  I assumed that the Cleveland weather would have been more like Cleveland and not Dallas.

The Race

imageAt the start of the race I lined up just a little behind the 3:55 pacers.  I wanted to start out a little slower than them.  It was really congested with runners for the first couple of miles.  The 3:55 group was so bunched up that I passed them and got closer to the 3:45 group.  This was actually what I wanted to do so that I could have time for a couple of breaks – potty or whatever.

I felt comfortable with my pacing during the initial part of the race.  I didn’t feel that I was overdoing it.

Here’s a video of me that was streamed by the local news station – channel 5.  You can start watching at about 0:38.  I’ll be behind the 8:59/mile pacer.  This should be at about mile 13 or so.  I was still feeling good at this point.

Once I got to mile 14, I took a short potty break.  I waited until the Half Marathoners turned off at mile 12 and then went.  If I have to go early in a marathon, I usually wait until the Half Marathoners turn off so that the lines will be shorter.

Pity Party

At about mile 15.5, the wheels were falling off.  The heat was really zapping me.  I just couldn’t maintain speed and energy.  I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hit my goal.  I really was having a stupid breakdown at this point.  I thought about all of the inspiring, awesome runners in my life… Denise, Felix, Hamlin, Susan, Libby, Anoop, Zack, Kim, Chris, Corina, Christy, Elaine, Hari, Steve, Bernie, Heather, Paul Arguso, Michele & Erik K.  The list is really long… I’m sure I missed someone, but I hope you know who you are!  I thought of y’all!

I tried to suck it up and push through.  Heck, I had that written on my arm, but all of the sweat pretty much washed it off.  While walking, I called my best friend, my wife, Ursula and told her of the challenges that I was having.  I told her that I was feeling like crap way too soon in the race. Right then, I just wanted to be home with her.  She encouraged me and told me that I could do it.

Ursula, my wife, was so sweet. I once told her that to encourage me, she could say, “Show me how great you are!” She texted that to me along the Pity Party.  Here’s how the text conversation went…

Ursula:  Show me how great you are! But I already know!!!!
Me:  I suck
Ursula:  No, you don’t. Weather conditions can change expectations. Be positive, you and Denise are out there – that’s awesome!  Keep going!  I love you!

image

At mile 19, I thought I’d tweet about my Pity Party.  I could hear all of the encouraging tweets coming in to encourage me.  I couldn’t read them because of the sun and lack of reading glasses on the course.  But, I drew off of them.

Change of Plans

The Pity Party lasted until about mile 20.  As I was starting to take more walk breaks, I started to talk to others.  I met Shawn from Hudson, OH who was running his first marathon.  We struck up a great conversation.  We shared the same run/walk strategy toward the end.  There was a time or two that he said that I should go on, but I said no, that I’d stick with him.  He was stuck with me.  :)

Meeting up with Shawn was probably the best thing that could happen for me that day.  It really shifted the focus from my little pity party to be a part of something bigger… getting to be a part of Shawn’s first marathon. 

He said that he felt bad for his parents as he was on pace for 4 hours earlier in the race, but was hoping to beat 5 hours.  He said that they’d be waiting for awhile.  I told him that we’d easily hit under 4:30.  We’d finish with a time of 4:21.

At one point, I saw a bridge coming up as we were running.  I said let’s run to the bridge and walk through the shade. I chuckled as he said that he was thinking the same thing.  We kept knocking down one mile marker, one water stop down after another after another.  I told him the big thing was to break the rest of the race down into smaller chunks.

We finally took our last walk break after the last water stop.  As we were getting close to the mile 26 sign, I heard someone call his name.  I asked who that was and he proudly said his dad.  Too cool!

P1000473As we were getting closer to the finish, Shawn wanted to sprint it out.  I loved it!  I’m so happy and proud that he wanted to finish strong.

There were tons of people lined up at the final chute, but they were pretty quiet.  I got them going by waving my arms and pointing to Shawn, shouting that it was his first marathon.  I told him to draw on the cheers and the adrenaline would finish him out.

2012-05-20 11.33.30I got to meet Shawn’s family after the race.  They were super proud of him. 

Again, it was so great to meet up with Shawn.  It really is so much more rewarding helping others achieve their goals than selfishly frustrated at your own.  God wants to use me in so many ways.  If I would just skip the Pity Party and listen to God, things would be a whole lot easier!

As I’ve said before, every marathon is full of emotions and experiences that you’ll never get to experience unless you get in there.  I hope your Cleveland Experience was a great one despite the heat.  I’m urging my sister to do a race recap.  She did well despite the heat, but I’ll live it to her to share her experience.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stalk or Track me on Sunday at the #CLEmarathon

CLEExperienceIn 2 short days I’ll be running Marathon #8 on Sunday at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!  I cannot wait for this fun event!

Track me along the race as I shoot for a time of 3:55.  Why 3:55?  It’s a doable time as I just completed a Marathon time of 3:58 and it’s just under a 9:00 minute per mile pace.  I’m always looking for the next milestone to achieve!  It’s not a big jump, but I might hold a little something something in the tank.

The Live Runner Tracking is free.  Not all races have it free, so sign up, and cheer for me from Texas or any other state.

I’ll also be live tweeting the race using the same service.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pre-Race Rituals: Race Numbers!

Yesterday I got my race bib number for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! The number is 1397… that definitely sounds like a PR number!  After cheering at my desk yesterday about getting my race number, I was asked, “what makes a good race number?” 

A good race number is like a poker hand… pairs, 3 of a kind, straights.  Even better is when you get a low number, such as number 1!  However, when it comes down to it, a good race number is a number that you believe is a PR Number.

Ever since I started running, my sister would always ask me about my number.  She  would always say how much better hers was.  If anything, it’s a nice little distraction while you’re getting geared up for the race.

2012-03-25 07.24.23One of my favorite race numbers are when they’re sequential… especially running in races with my 16 year old son, Cairo!  We usually argue (out of fun) which race number is better.  Here’s a couple of pictures of us at some races.  Yep, we like to dress the same.

2012-04-07 07.47.14248636_10150193627601442_631711441_7419394_4482588_n2011-09-05 08.32.29  0053-knock out

The number 1397 has a great ring to it!  Yep, it’s a PR number!  :)

        So, do you have any favorite numbers for your bib number?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pre-Race Rituals: Anticipation

OK, this is not really a ritual, it’s just something that I and a majority of runners go through during the final days leading up to a big race.  The Marathon Experience takes you through so many emotions and feelings.  One of those is ANTICIPATION which reminds me of the classic Heinz Ketchup commercial.

You’ve trained hard for the race.  You might’ve had some set backs due to injury, schedule, or energy, but you’ve overcome that.  This might be a first race of this distance or you might be shooting for a PR or the ever popular BQ.  All of these runner challenges will definitely bring you into an overwhelming state of Anticipation!  The key is to handle the anticipation in a positive manner.

I like to think of anticipation as a time of bottled up excitement.  Instead of dwelling on the negative… did I train well enough, hard enough, eat correctly?  I’m channeling that energy to the positives… I cannot wait to see How Strong that I am!

Yep, I cannot wait to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!  I’m full of positive anticipation!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pre-Race Rituals: New Background

On race week I like getting psyched for the race by putting the course map on my computer as the desktop wallpaper.  A bit excessive?  Nahhh… just overly excited!

The Rite-Aid Cleveland Marathon is right around the corner.  Here’s what’s staring back at me from my laptop… the full marathon route.

2012clevelandroute

I’m so ready for this race!  I cannot wait to get to Cleveland to see family and run this race!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why I Ran in a Skirt?

150132_3963888385142_1518332726_33291585_434153653_nThis is the second time that I ran in a running skirt.  Yes, honestly, or at least it’s the second time that it’s been documented.  You can check this blog post 2 years ago for the first time. 

So… why did I run in a skirt!?!  It was the best way to have a front row seat to all of the inspirational runners out there.  I’ve said it before, but I’ve got to say it again… I would not be running if it wasn’t for my sister, Denise.  That’s really why I love supporting the Heels & Hills Half Marathon race.  This race is geared to women and celebrating their accomplishments.  So, they ask the male pace runners to dress in running skirts as a fun kind of distraction.  Felix and I were definitely distractions.

AsNk_nACQAAyjkjWe had a great time with the 2:10 pace group.  We tried to crack jokes and keep the mood light as the humidity was getting on the thick side!  Whenever we ran under a bridge we yelled out a collective primal scream.  It was pretty darn fun and therapeutic all at the same time!  I would announce that we were going to do a countdown and then scream.  We had a couple of people looking forward to the next bridge.

Besides being comedic relief, we reminded everyone to stay hydrated and to listen to their bodies.  Today was not the day to set a PR because of the humidity.  Finishing was the goal!

Felix and I had fun picking out the matching shirts.  Thanks to Michelle for letting us borrow her skirts. :)  Ursula, my wife, did an awesome job making the sign.  We’re going to keep that one for next year.  Both Felix and I sported smiley faces on our calves.  We also had “2:10 or Bust” signs on our backs.

0065Like I mentioned, I got to have a front row seat to all of the inspirational stories out there.  It was so great to meet Alicia’s mom before her first 5K race.  Check out her mom’s race recap here.  It was very touching.  When you have excuses popping up of why not to run or race, read her race recap.

I also had fun spending time with the 3:00 pace group.  Elaine let me tag along where I got to meet Vivian.  It was her first marathon.  I asked her how she was doing, she said she was dying.  I told her that she’s actually living.  It was great to finish with both of them.  I love experience first half marathons again and again!  :)

So, guys… if you’re ever asked to wear a running skirt… do it!  Ok, ok, instead if you’re asked to pace a race… do it!  It’s rewarding beyond what words can describe!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Marathons are Like Weddings

NYC-Marathon-WeddingIn a couple of weeks, I’ll be running in my 8th marathon at the Rite Aid Cleveland MarathonCrazy thought… marathons are like weddings in so many ways.  There is so much excitement for that big day, so much anxiety, so much second guessing, and yet, in both situations, we know it’s the right thing to do!

A wedding and a marathon are both very special events.  They pronounce to the world the love that you have for another… in the marathon case – it’s the love of running!  So, what’s so darn similar???

Wedding Planner – For a successful marathon, you really need a Wedding Planner to assist you… oh wait, I mean Running Coach.  The Running Coach is going to encourage you, coach you, and help you plan your training and race strategy.  They will push you to new heights that you didn’t think possible. 

Planning – You and the Wedding Planner (Running Coach) will do a lot of planning for your training and the week of/day of the big event.  You should have a thoroughly planned out training schedule to follow.  However, knowing that if you miss an occasional workout that you don’t need to cancel the race.

Wedding Party – Every wedding and race needs a Wedding Party.  Your Wedding Party is your local running club.  In my case, I run with with Frisco Running Club.  It’s an awesome group headed up by my Wedding Planner, Hamlin Jones.  Your running club is there to support you along your common goal of the big race.  There is so much encouragement through these groups, that it’s totally crazy.  For example, when I was having problems getting down that proverbial aisle during the challenging 2011 White Rock Marathon, Susan from the FRC, was my angel and helped me along.

As you run more and more races and training events, your Wedding Party will grow.  I’ve got so many great frunners from meeting people at races, Twitter, FaceBook, and DailyMile.  What are frunners?  This cool term was coined by Corina which means a running friend.  Corina was my original Twitter running friend.  This girl is so inspiring that I look darn right lethargic!

95057290Best Man – My Best Man is Felix!  He has been part of my running life since I started training for my first marathon.  Even though I run primarily with the Frisco Running Club, Felix and I will meet up almost weekly to run hills or race together.  We usually meet the day before a bigger race for the race expo and some lunch.  He’s a great friend that I would have never had the pleasure of meeting if I didn’t take up running.  I thank God for our relationship!

Commitment – Nothing takes more commitment than running a marathon! OK, OK, OK… weddings and more importantly marriages take more commitment.  With that said, there is an inordinate amount of commitment that’s needed to make sure that you get to that start line and then of course the finish line.  You have to make daily healthy choices that will prepare you for that big day.

Get Dressed Up – In all of my marathons, I’ve spoiled myself with a new shirt.  Psssttt… please don’t tell my wife.  She thinks that I have enough running shirts already!  Getting a new running shirt just makes the big race that much more special!  I don’t wear the race or any other race shirts during the race.  I’m in the now for this race!  Really, I don’t get to wear tails, I mean, compression socks everyday!  Enjoy dressing the part and being a part of it!

Photographer – Besides your family photos, there will definitely be several race photographers out there to capture the big moment.  One thing that my running sister taught me was to be ready for these crazy photogs!  Be ready with a smile and look like you own the race even if you feel like dog dirt!  Just like the wedding photographer, the race photographer will provide you with proofs to choose from to purchase.  I wish that the race pictures were priced a bit cheaper as I would definitely purchase more.

Expect that things will go wrong – Yes, things will go wrong or not as you expected on the big day.  Crappy weather, not enough GU, running late, numerous potty breaks, you name it… something will probably go wrong.  It’s easier to say and harder to do, but accept it and move on.  You’ve trained for this day and you will survive a majority of these little irritants or setbacks.

Enjoy the experience!  Count it all Joy!  One of my favorite scriptures is James 1:2 as it talks about counting it all joy as you face trials.  Enjoy the entire marathon experience!  Just like in a wedding ceremony there will be so many emotions.  Enjoy every single emotion that’s going to happen.  By the time that I’m done with a marathon, I’m physically and emotionally drained!  There are so many raw thoughts and emotions during that race, that it’s just beyond explanation.  I’m usually an emotional wreck by the time that I’m done.  This is displayed by the video below…

Unlike weddings where you really only get one shot to experience this once in a life time event, marathons allow the opportunity to create these experiences again and again.  The fun thing is that the experience is the same, but entirely different.  I will continue to run as along as my desire remains high to Enjoy the Experience!

The Ring/Medal – The wedding ring symbolizes the unity between the bride and groom.  The Finisher’s Medal symbolizes the completion of the race.  It’s the icing on top of the cake for the race experience.

The Reception – After my ritual ice bath and resting, I like to go to a restaurant and celebrate that evening.  One of my favorite places locally is Babe’s Chicken in Frisco.  Talk about a Yumathon!

What are some similarities that I missed?  How does it remind you of a Wedding Day?