Sunday, December 2, 2007

2007 Las Vegas Marathon Results

81/4154 Overall
19/438 Age
Dead toenail count: 1.5

Well, this was an interesting one in that I spent less than 25 hours in Las Vegas proper. This was what is referred to as a ‘smash and grab’ job, meaning, you go in, you do your thing, and you get out. Normally I try to enjoy my marathon locales, but this one was forced. I left for Vegas at 9:15 ET on Saturday, arriving in Vegas at 11:15 PT. I took my cab ride over to Hooter’s Casino and Hotel where I was staying and dropped my bag (too early to check in). I walked over (and took the tram for part of it) over to Mandalay Bay Casino which is where the expo was.

I met up with the head JCC cross country coach (and running companion) Brian Olsen and his wife and parents and we headed over for a nice $20 buffet. Pasta, steak, awesome mashed potatoes, YUM!! It was Brian who told me about this marathon in the first place last July. The night he told me about it I went online, signed up for the marathon, got a hotel room and airline ticket. It was actually kind of cool to be at a huge marathon 1500+ miles from home and have a good friend there who I have run with many a time to share the experience with.

After lunch/dinner we parted and I went to the expo which was, I have to admit, pretty lame. I have seen much better at Boston and Detroit and expected a little more. I left Mandalay Bay and headed back towards my hotel, stopping by the Tropicana and the MGM Grand to pick up $1 tokens as souvenirs, a tradition I got from my father. I decided I did want to gamble just a little bit, so I sat down with $60 at a poker table at the Hooters casino. After about 15 minutes I was down to about $20 and was thinking to myself ‘this is how Vegas was built, people leaving their money here’, but I decided the $60 was all for losing. Just then, my luck turned, getting back to $60, then ahead. As soon as I realized I was up to $125 (over double my initial investment) I quick got up and left the table. I had paid for my food and souvenirs for the weekend, so I was done.

Back to the room to try to get some sleep, which didn’t work for me too much, and up at 2:45 PT (only 5:45 ET) to get ready for my marathon.

On race mornings, I usually try to eat toast a few hours beforehand but was unable to find some at my hotel. They DID have a breakfast, but it was an $8 plate with a bunch of stuff I did not want. I decided (stupidly) to eat a Krispy Kreme donut and a banana instead. Bad idea. That would cause one of my big problems. I had heard recently that eating protein and fats on race morning are good for ‘regulating’ the carbs that you have (presumably) already loaded your body with. The 5 buffalo wings I had in the bar 11 hours before hand didn’t seem to help.
Race start was scheduled for 6:07 so I decided that leaving my hotel ((<1 mile away) at 5:30 would be fine. Umm… Not a good idea. There were thousands of people heading for the start and I had to cut through them, jumping bushes, being rude, etc, only to get to the start about 8 minutes before the start. I found Brian with 4 minutes to go and my GPS watch ‘found’ itself about 2 minutes before we started. The race began and we crossed the start line about 15 seconds after the gun.

Brian and I had talked earlier that week and realized we were shooting for comparable times (somewhere in the 2:50’s) so we went out together. We meant to start out slow (7:15 ish) but because we are us, we started at 6:45 and did not slow down because (of course) we felt great. By mile 6 we were in our rhythm, watching the strip go by, enjoying ourselves, feeling great.

By about the halfway mark, I started to slow. My ankles were not very happy with me. I had been icing them twice a day a few weeks ago trying to get rid of a nagging injury. I had stopped doing that and now they were sore and started to give me grief. Now granted, I had run a marathon exactly 14 days previous which might have effected my pain as well. My stomach also started complaining from the Krispy Kreme donut. Brian left me somewhere between mile 14 and 15. I knew I could not keep the 6:38 (or so) pace he was doing. It turns out he crashed about mile 23 and he was surprised I did not catch him later in the race. He ended up beating me by about 2 minutes and 11 places.
There was occasional entertainment (bands mostly) during the course and most were lame except for the Blue Man Group that was performing at mile 4. That was freaking cool. At mile 20 there was a fake brick ‘wall’ overpass that you ran underneath to represent the tradition ‘wall’ many runners hit when running a marathon. I made a point to smacking it with my hand as I ran by. That was pretty cool, actually.

I had little time after the marathon to make my flight so I never stopped after I crossed the finish line. Got my space blanket, some water and some fruit and started my hike to my hotel. See, they changed my flight time to 11:45 PT. I finished the race (in downtown Vegas) at 9:07 PT. So, obviously, I couldn’t stick around afterwards.

As I started walking the ~1 mile to my hotel I saw a flat bed pickup collecting orange traffic cones from the morning (when they had coned off traffic). The guy driving looked at me, saw my finishers medal and I asked him if he could give me a ride down the block. He asked me how far, I told him 4 blocks and he said sure, jump on. I climbed on to the bed of the truck and we sped down the road, saving me at least 15 minutes of walking. A quick shower, packing job, cab ride, hike through the airport and I was THROUGH airport security 65 minutes after crossing the finish line. I was quite proud of myself. I had enough time to sit down, call my mom and my girlfriend and enjoy an ice cold beer.

This was a really fun experience, and appropriate for my 10th marathon. A lot has happened in my life since I started this latest hobby. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Big lessons from the Vegas marathon:
1) Ice your ankles whenever you can.
2) Try peanut butter sandwich for race morning meal
3) For large marathons, get to the start EARLY.
4) Drink something at every water station, no matter how you feel.
5) Apples when ‘racing’? Probably not a good idea.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

2007 Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon Results

3:07:11 (7:07/mile)
4/173 Overall
2/22 Age
Dead toenail count: 2.5

Hilly. Very very hilly. Here is the elevation profile:

This was a wonderful and memorable race for a several reasons. Let us make a list:

1. Not certified. The race director prides himself on this being a hard race that is not certified and not fast. Overall, there is 2500+ feet of elevation gain and loss throughout the race. The hills were gentle, but constant. I started out slow (for me) and just tried to get in a comfortable rhythm. I knew I was racing the Las Vegas marathon in two weeks, so I did not want to take a week to recover. I raced a 5K 4 days later in fact. My first mile was 7:04, so you can see I held a pretty constant pace throughout the run. I never felt like I was pushing it, never really felt tired, never felt strained or sore. I truly felt great throughout the whole race. A 3:07 finish (considering the hilly nature) on this course is pretty darn good.

2. Small race, lots of love. This race was a passion for the organizers, and you could tell. The field was capped at 200 and the 173 finishers got a great deal. Every single finisher got a big round of applause from the spectators. Throughout the race, here were little flying ‘monkeys’ hanging on trees.
With so few finishers, everyone felt like a winner when they rolled in. The organizers asked for people to bring food, so there was a bona fide potluck after the race, including peanut butter sandwiches, which I have never seen at a race before.

3. Divorce Therapy. The race started 26 hours before the final court hearing for my divorce. It was actually nice timing because my post race euphoria got me through the last few hours, keeping calm and even keel. While running this race, I realized how important this running thing is to me. It removes any stress that I hold onto, releasing it into the pavement I pound as I put on the miles.

4. Deal and a half. For $60 I got a personalized (with my name on it) long sleeve technical shirt, another cute t-shirt, a most awesome finishers ‘medal’ (actually a piece of wood, but way cool) fantastic run support (sweet people at every intersection, enthusiastic water stations attendants) and yet another very memorable marathon. This is my 9th marathon (in 9 different states, by the way) and one I will not forget anytime soon.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

2007 Johnstown Marathon Results

11/111 overall
Dead toenail count: 3

Oh, were to begin with the excuses…

Well, the start time is 9am in early October, which normally would be fine. At 9, the weather was great, low 60s. But this is a marathon, and the last 6 miles were in open beating-down sun with temperatures in the mid 80’s. That slowed down everyone this day. At the finish line, everyone I talked to was disappointed with their slow times. That’s excuse #1. A few states over at the same time, the Chicago marathon was shut down due to hot weather.

Excuse #2 (the big one): On Friday morning, a mere 51 hours before I was to start my race I woke up with the initial signs of bad sinus infection. The last time this happened to me before a race (my 50 miler attempt in Nov 2006 in Chicago) I self medicated, not wanting to see a doctor and get told not to run. That was dumb last time, so I was smarter this time. I was at my doctor’s office right at 8 am when they opened up and begged to see him. He was full that morning, but they got me in, and sure enough, sinus infection. We decide to treat it ‘aggressively’ and he asks if I want t shot of antibiotic to kick start the drugs. I say yes, of course. They give me the shot in the meaty part of my upper left thigh. I have had this done before and quickly remembered how unbelievably sore it gets after such a shot. There were times when I could not stand it was so painful. Imagine someone placing a large board on your leg and then pounding board as hard as they can with a sledgehammer. It was worse than that. I worked out the muscle most of Friday, such that I didn’t feel the soreness on Saturday morning. Good. I take the drugs and they help, but I am not completely over it when I wake up (after not sleeping well) at 3:45 Sunday morning. Ok, so race morning and I pound down my antibiotic, some Zycam, and some Dayquil. A little nasal spray for good measure and I head out to the start. I know my congestion is going to slow me a bit, but I try very hard to stay motivated.

At about mile 8, my entire left leg begins to feel ‘sore’ as if I did a hard run on it recently, which of course, I had not. What was weird was that A) it was my entire leg, not just one or two muscles, and B) it was only my left leg. After about a half mile of pain, I realized it was the shot. My leg had not fully recovered from the ‘soreness’ brought on from the shot, and so I had to suffer through it for the last 18 miles of the race. I was on a sub-2:55 pace (about 6:39/mi) until that point, but I had to slow up and in fact walk a few sections near the end.

So, the drugs were needed to fight the infection which slowed me down a little, for sure, but the shot slowed me down more. I blame the sinus infection, either way ;)

Excuse #3: Ok, so yes, I was shooting for a PR is this race. Even after Friday morning’s fiasco I thought I still might be able to do it. I have stopped following a training schedule (per se) a lot time ago because I didn’t like how it tied my hands and made my running feel like work. So why did I think I could run a PR? Well, I have been training with my Cross Country team since August, doing some hard workouts, or so I thought.

I sort of have made the decision to run marathons for fun, not racing every one of them. The reason is two-fold. 1) I can’t ‘race’ a marathon every 3 weeks, I’ll die. 2) Following a set training schedule just sort of bums me out these days. So what I have decided to do this winter season is just work on getting my base mileage up to 65-70 miles per week. I have been sitting at 45-50 for a while now. Get my base up with only a little bit of ‘fast’ work, not paying any attention to any sort of training schedule and running Harpeth Hills, Vegas, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale as training runs. Get my finishers medal and say thank you. I know I can survive, and someday I will get back to focusing on a race and even following a training schedule for it, but not for a little while.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

2007 University of Okoboji Marathon Results

4/119 Overall
1/20 Age
Dead toenail count: 3
U of O
This was a really nice small community marathon with less than 120 finishers. One piece of evidence, when the announcer said my name at the awards ceremony there was an ‘oooohh’ when he said I was all the way from Michigan. Really nice shirt, decent race support, nice course, all for $30? That’s a deal and a half.

This was my first marathon since my big decision to stop ‘racing’ every marathon I enter. I am hoping to run a total of 8 marathons this calendar year and can’t bust my butt at every single race. So for this one I decided to go out ‘slow’ and get in gear early and hold it. At the start (about 50 degree with a nice breeze) I started out with front group for the 1st mile. The pace felt good but I did not look at my watch until we hit the mile 1 marker and then I noticed I was going to fast (about 6:17) so I let the crowd of 5 guys go, then dropped back to 6:40 and stuck it ‘in gear’ for the rest of the race. I would have finished a little sooner but I made at least one wrong turn that cost me at least a minute. The official time says that my overall average pace was 6:51, but my GPS watch had me averaging 6:45 for the whole race but it also said I ran more than 0.25 mile long. Oh well. I got under 3 hours, which makes me happy.

U of OThe course was very pretty, going around a nice large lake with some stretches on county highways and some stretches through residential lake front streets. The course markings were so-so, and there were only two aid stations in the first 6 miles which ticked me off. After that they got more frequent. The temperature was not too high, so keeping appropriately hydrated was easy. The course had several ‘rolling hills’ but none of them were too high or too long. A pleasant course, just make sure to drive it beforehand or you can easily get lost.

Under 3 hours without even really trying. Who knows what will happen when I go back to actually racing these marathons. Yippie!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

2007 Hatfield McCoy Marathon Results

3:17:11 (7:32/mil)
5/191 Overall
1/9 Age
Dead toenail count: 4

Hatfield & McCoyOh my, what a race! Ok, so the actual race kicked my butt in a huge way. All the reviews were right, this is an incredibly difficult course with hills galore. None of them really steep, but get enough gentle rolling hills and it starts to hurt, with one of them over a mile long at about mile 7. There was another one at mile 23 that was about half a mile long that hurt as well. The weather was a factor as well, with the start at ~70 degrees and ~80 by the finish. Now that I learned my lesson regarding hydration during marathons, I carried a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade with me and still drank water/Gatorade at every one of the 25 some odd water stations throughout the course. I still felt a little dehydrated at the end.

I finished 5th overall, but I will admit that I had to take walking breaks starting at mile 18. Even with all of those, I lost only one place between there and the end. I sweat like a pig, which was fine except for the fact that my feet got very wet (even with ‘running’ socks) and so I got a 4 big honkin’ blisters. At three separate points in the race it felt like someone chopped off one of my toes (each time a different toe) but after 10 minutes the feeling passed in each instance.

The course might have been rough as can be, but the hospitality of the community and race officials is beyond compare. I paid $30 for this race and I got a ok t-shirt, a fabulous pasta dinner, a respectable finishers medal (better than Boston), a free lunch of pulled pork chips and soda, and an 18” trophy for finishing 1st in my age. That’s the material benefits, the people running the race were kind and friendly. Everyone from the ladies helping at packet pickup, to the people serving pasta to the many many water stations volunteers, to the sweet ladies who gave my Gatorade, cold towels and cold sponges at the finish. I can truly see why this marathon has the great reputation it has.

The race is not that popular with less than 250 runners, but they all have an interesting story. I saw a whole bunch of people who are members of the marathon maniacs as well as the 50 states marathon club. I met one guy who was running his 100th marathon, all of which were after he was 51 years old. I met a whole bunch of people who run marathons for fun, not for the competition. The guy who finished 6th overall lives in Columbus, OH and is trying to run 12 marathons this year, one every month. Me, I am just trying to run 7 in total this year. Maybe next year I will try 12. In other words, this marathon draws the marathons ‘wackos’. Understand that I use that as a term of endearment as I am becoming one of those wackos.

This area is economically depressed ($3.50 for a matinee movie, yeah!), just like the entire state of Michigan, so they depend a lot on tourism. You can tell traveling around the area that the whole Hatfield-McCoy thing is something that they play up to get people to visit here. If you ask me, the energy they put into this marathon is worth so much more.

This was one of my lesser marathon finishes, but it will be by far one of the most memorable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2007 Boston Marathon Results

3:09:50 (7:15/min pace)
1888th place overall (out of 20,348)
1262 in division (out of 4525)

Oh my oh my! What an experience! I am now in very select company as I am now officially a Boston Marathon finisher. It truly is one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life, no doubt.

The weather forecast three days before the race was downright horrible. Low 40’s, steady rain winds 20-30 MPH gusting to 50 MPH. There was serious talk of cancelling, mostly for safety issues. Runners were talking about nothing else in those last 48 hours. It was a bona fide Nor’easter that ran through the area but luckily, the brunt of it was done by early race morning.

The expo (imagine 250 businesses selling running stuff to them most dedicated runners in the world) was huge and seriously cool. I bought very little, but received a whole lot of free stuff, food, blister stuff, sunscreen, chap-stick, etc. It was wall to wall runners all day long. The ‘energy’ of the expo was seriously cool.

After the expo, I got to head over to finish line to take some pictures as I knew it would be hard on race day. It turns out, lots of people have the same idea. :)
Boston finish

My race day started early, waking up at about 4:45. I took my time drinking my tea, a warm slow shower, heading for the subway at about 5:20 am. I needed to ride the subway for 10 minutes to get to the buses that took us to the Athlete’s Village, a staging ground 0.7 miles from the start line. Since it takes so long to get everyone there (23,000+) they started the buses early. I got there in time (2 hours before I needed to leave for the start) to stake out a small parcel of land (2′ x 5′) to sit under the big circus tent.

The temperature at this point was in the high 30’s so not bad. I took my time getting ready, stretching, eating a bagel and connecting my homemade gators to my shoes.
This was a custom system that I built just before I left Michigan, a two piece operation that allowed my feet to breath yet stay dry in the hardest of rain. You can tell who my father is (Thanks Dad!). In the end, it did keep my feet drier that without it. People complimented me on my ingenuity. Some people were wearing plastic bags on their feet right up until the start.

At about 9:10 (50 min before the start) I started my walk to the starting line. My drop bag (my clothing and stuff I wanted at the end of the race) was put inside a well labeled bus and then it was just me, my shoes, my running clothes and a 26.2 mile run to the finish. I got to the start line just in time to watch the elite women start (25 min before my start time) and then I entered my corral. Your starting location is based on your qualifying time. I registered using my 2:59:04 from Sunburst which put me in the second corral. I found out I could have updated my qualifying time with my 2:55:30 from the A1A Marathon and then I would have been in the very first corral, but decided that since I was not racing this one, it was fine. 2 min before the start I removed one layer, a cotton t-shirt under my windbreaker. The nice lady holding up the rope separating corral 1 from corral 2 took it from me with a smile.

The gun went off right at 10 am, and surprisingly, I passed the start line within 20 seconds of the start. Another fear that did not come up was that the first few miles would be spent running on top of people feet. The seeding of the start is a great idea so everyone was moving at the same pace around you.

The course starts out with a whole bunch of downhill running, and I knew that and LISTENED to everything I hear that said to hold back. I did that, just getting into a groove that felt comfortable. After less than a mile I knew that I needed to ditch my other cotton shirt I was wearing, but because of my windbreaker and how it was fashioned, it would have taken me 2 minutes if I stopped and removed it. I decided to do my best Incredible Hulk impersonation and unzipped my windbreaker halfway and literally ripped the shirt apart to take it off. And guess what, the shirt was a bright lime green color :)

My biggest concern for the race was the cold. I wore enough clothes to keep me warm, but the clothes that kept me warm slowed me down, probably adding 5 pounds to my weight once they were wet with rain/sweat. That was fine. Survival this day was more important than a fast finish time.

The miles rolled on, and if you recall, I got more than a little dehydrated back at the A1A marathon, so this time I was much better at hydrating. At every water aid station (roughly every mile) I took a cup and walked for 4 steps while getting a good swallow. After the half way mark I switched to Gatorade and took 2-3 swallows walking for 6-8 steps. Hey, I was getting tired…

They say that this is the largest spectator event in the world with 500,000+ watching it ‘live’ throughout the course. I am sure the weather kept some people away, but there was pretty constant crowds the whole way which was really cool. There were lots of kids holding out their hands for high-5’s and I obliged for about 100 of them throughout the course.

There was of course the famous ’scream tunnel’ which is where you run by Wellesley College and the women of Wellesley stand there and scream at the top of their lungs for you and beg for kisses. It is true, you can hear them a little over half a mile away and it is deafening. Thousands of co-eds screaming you encouragement. Because it is tradition, I had to stop for a kiss, well I got three. The last one from a nice young woman who held a sign that said simply ‘Take a break. Kiss me.’ I did both, but quickly. The excitement gave me a nice shot in the arm in terms of motivation, but only lasted for about a mile before my body reminded me that it was cold, wet and tired. I remarked to the runners around me that Wellesley college needs to be at mile 22, not mile 13.

I was never planning on ‘racing’ this one, meaning I was not shooting for a PR or anything. I am currently in heavy training for the Hatfield/McCoy Reunion Marathon in early June and I did not want to take a week off from that training schedule to recover from a hard Boston, so I took it easy. My training schedule for this week called for a 18 mile run at a 7:00/mile pace. At mile 18, I checked my watch, 6:55 pace. Great, I said, now I have a nice gentle 8 mile cool down run. My pace slowed and I tried to enjoy the crowds a little more, using them to get me through the numerous gentle, but long, hills that ended with that famous one, ‘heartbreak hill’. I was happy to get to the top, but then annoyed as after that there were still a bunch of small ones that I did not realize existed. I am sure they seemed worse than they were, but remember, I had already be running for 20+ miles.
Once you turn on to Bolyston street, it is less than 0.5 mile to the finish. After you take the turn you can see the banner over the road. It just calls to you, drawing you in. Literally with less than 0.15 mile to go, I got a nasty cramp in the back of my leg. I stumbled for a few steps, laughed out loud and said ‘good timing’ yet ran on.

The finish line was a well-oiled volunteer machine. Medical personnel, Mylar space blankets, chip removal, food/water, finishers medal (which if you ask me is pretty lame). Everything was great, right up until the time came to get my drop bag. Thousands of runners stood outside buses with bags, trying to stay warm as volunteers tried very hard to get bags to the appropriate people quickly. It took a while, and some runners began to get rather upset. I was just getting very cold and starting to shiver. Once I had my bag I found an entryway to a restaurant to do a quick costume change into warm clothes. That made a world of difference.
A short walk back to my hotel ended in a nice hot shower. My toes held out good considering how wet they got. I did put a lot of Vaseline on them before the race and I think that really helped. A few small blisters popped, dry socks, clean clothes. All was good. A nice dinner at the hotel restaurant with a big juicy steak (NO MORE PASTA PLEASE!!) and it was off to bed.

The experience was great. Now, two days later, I feel a little depressed, only because a joyous event that I had been focusing on and looking forward to for so long was now complete and behind me. Anticipation is now all gone, replaced by memories.

Thank you all who gave me words/emails of encouragement. They helped me through the crappy conditions. I love you all!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

2007 A1A Marathon Results

2/435 overall

a1a 2007Yup, you saw that right, 2nd place overall. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I was actually in the lead for the first 25 miles.

The day started off great, dark and about 48 degrees. Perfect running weather for a guy from Michigan. The locals were shivering in the cold air. The half marathon and full marathon started at the same time (6 am) so I was not to concerned about the flurry of people in front of me at the start. I just got into my rhythm of about 6:15 pace, which is a little faster than I wanted to go. I met a woman at the start who was trying to Olympic qualifying time of 2:48. She looked like she could do it too. In the end, she did not qualify.

The course was gorgeous, running almost the whole way along the beach. We started the race heading west towards the ocean, and as we crossed a bridge, the yellow orange horizon of the sun was just coming up. It was beautiful. The sunrise 20 minutes later was awesome.

The two races follow the same course until about mile 6.5 when the half marathoners turn left and the marathon runners turn right. As I came around the corner I saw the big sign with the arrow for marathon runners to turn right, so I changed lanes and started my turn. There was a crowd of people there who all started moving when I came around. Two police officers on motorcycles took off, a race official on a bike gets going and a Harley starts driving besides me with a cameraman on the back filming me the whole way. I was like ‘cool’. And I ask the dude on the bike “how many people are in front of me”. He says ‘Nobody, they were all half marathoners’. I told him to stop lying to me and tell me how many runners there were in front of me. He said he was serious, I had the lead in the marathon and he could not see the second place runner.

This is about where I started to freak out. I was in a comfortable run grove, but I have never led a race, let alone win one, so I got nervous. I decided to just stay in my rhythm and never look back to see if the 2nd guy was gaining on me. For the first time in my life I had lots of people cheering ME on, and I knew it was just for me, because I was in the LEAD and there was nobody else around me. After the half way point, when I started seeing the other marathoners coming towards me, they were cheering. That’s why I am used to doing, cheering on the leaders as I run behind them. It was weird.

I took the half marathon turn at under 1:20:00 which (had I stopped there) would have broken my personal best for a half marathon by almost 5 minutes (I felt good!) and still no one in sight behind me.

At about mile 15, a light rain came out of nowhere, but then turned into an absolute downpour for about 5 minutes. Cold windy and now rainy. Awful conditions. The good news was that it lasted for only 5 minutes, but the bad news is that in that 5 miles, my shoes got soaked and I was running on bricks the rest of the race.
At about mile 17 or so, I actually started to see things. Strange concentric circles began to permeate my vision. That was just the start of what ended up being hallucinations. After the fact I realized I just did not drink enough (having just a little water at each station) so I got dehydrated. During the race I couldn’t think enough to say to myself ‘oh, I need to drink more’. That was the one big thing I learned on this day. I shall never forget it, because it cost me my goal of 2:50 and the win, the latter I never expected. At about mile 20, I lost feeling in my hands, and at mile 23, I lost feeling in my feet. In mile 24 my brain started to go fuzzy. Yeah, it was that bad.

I used my bike escort (who was with me the whole way starting at mile 6.5) to my advantage. He would go ahead of me at each water stop and tell them to only hold out water, far from my body (so it wouldn’t spill on me). I also had him stop at mile 20 and start a stopwatch and find out exactly how much of a lead (in time) I had on second place. I was starting to fail, and I wanted to know how much of a buffer I had. It was 3 minutes with 6 miles to go. That helped a little, but I knew he could catch me if I slowed down any more, which I did. I averaged 6:10 miles for the first half marathon, but lost all that, finishing with a 6:42 average pace. I have almost no memory of miles 22-26, as I was trying to keep going, wanting to stop and pass out. I tried so hard just to stay alive and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Right around mile 25, I lost the lead. Again, a lead I never thought I should have had. I did not fight it, for I had nothing left.

When I crossed the finish line, I had three people come grab me because they could tell I was about to fall over and go night-night. They sat me down, gave me fluids and food. I did not stand up for almost an hour. At one point one of the medical personnel was telling me they were about to take me to the hospital. I assured them I was recovering, just slowly. I downed 5 bottles of fluid (4 fluid replacement drinks, 1 water) and ate a muffin, a bagel and 4 (really good!) cookies. I also got interviewed by the local newspapers and television station. I didn’t get as much copy as the guy who won it, but I at least got my name mentioned, and not just in the results section. THAT was cool.

I would like to run this race again, not just because I almost won it, but because the course was so beautiful. That is reason enough to do it again. Don’t think that I almost won it because I am really fast. It was a slow field of racers, truly. A winning time of 2:54:30 is not that fast. I know I could have done better, and now I know I am a legit marathon runner. Time to start training for my next marathon.
Next marathon on deck? Boston. Yeah baby!