September 24, 2017

Hey! Didn't I run the 2016 NYC Marathon?!?

Hi.  My name is Chris.

You may remember me from such races as the Boston Marathon, the Indy Mini or even Ironman Louisville, but for some reason...I STOPPED blogging about my journey!


I have a great story to tell, and more importantly, this serves as a journal of my experiences so that when I wake up in my 80s and can't remember my name, I can read all about this guy that looks alot like me!  Will we still have the internet when I'm 80?

So my last post was in May 2016 after I completed the Indy Mini.  That was a really good day.

I spent the rest of the summer preparing for the NYC marathon...YES, THE NYC MARATHON!  (Why did I not blog about this?)  So I'm blogging now so that others who enjoy reading recaps might come across this and enjoy the insight!

In late September I ran the half at the Mill Race in Columbus, IN.  My 21st half marathon went down in just under 2:30 on a fairly flat course.  It was a perfect set up for NYC.

The NYC Marathon!!

 Molly and I flew to NYC a couple days early and got a great hotel just south of Times Square.  We took in all the sights and sounds of Manhattan for a couple straight days.  Time Square, Wicked the Musical, and plenty of people watching.

The expo was at the convention center which was very close to our hotel, so we walked over and enjoyed the experience.  Nothing was cheap, but had to have the swag, so we spent some money there!

On race morning, I walked to the NYC library where I boarded a charter bus that would transport me to the start line on Staten Island.  The other choice was to take the ferry, but the boarding area was quite a ways from the hotel.  It is quite a sight to see how they bus so many to the start line.  Lots of nervous energy in that line!

As we rolled up to the starting village, I got really excited thinking about the day ahead.

 A massive area in the shadows of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.  Areas are separated based on your start time.  People everywhere.  Free coffee, juice, bagels, bananas.  Plenty of room to spread out and sleep, rest or be social.  Very cool experience.
I was so happy to find my chocolate milk teammate, Anthony who was pacing one of the fast groups of the day!

Once it was go time and we made our walk to the start line, I got pretty nervous thinking about the long day yet to come (It was already 11 a.m. before I started)

National Anthem on the foot of the bridge with 15,000 of my new friends!

Once the race started, I just worked hard to find my rhythm.  I remember the first mile was super slow as we climbed the bridge, and the second mile was super fast as we made our way back down.  
Running through all the boroughs was a real eye opener.  All the different neighborhoods are so unique and different.

I really ran pretty well through the first half.  Brooklyn was a great area to run through.  Tons of people and high energy.

Once I hit the bridge into Manhattan I had to walk quite a bit.  Especially up the long incline.  It was also eerily quiet on the bridge.  No spectators and very lonely while struggling.   But on the other side, I was lucky to get to see Molly and my cousin who came out to cheer me on.

Heading North all the way to Harlem the crowds are really thick!  But by mile 20 I was in survival mode!  And I'm not just talking about the man who saw me walking and ran off of his porch to the edge of the road and yelled at me, "you don't want to be walking in this neighborhood!"  Suddenly, I was able to run again!

Once I turned that corner and headed South again, I was excited to run into Central Park.  The park was a lot hillier than what I expected, but did not disappoint.  It is beautiful!  At mile 25, I even got to see Molly again who was doing a Facebook live video broadcast.  Had to perk up for the camera on the way to Columbus Circle.

Once inside the park it was getting quite dark quite fast and by the time I finished it was only the spot lights that provided any back light for my finisher photos.

5:54:51 may have been my slowest marathon, but the experience was unlike any other!

It was a long slow dark walk back to the hotel!  Even with the help of the subway

Once back to the hotel and post shower, it was ALL SMILES!!!

A month later I ran a local 5k in 33 and some change, and then took almost 6 months off!
I started an easy routine again late in the spring 2017, and am now in week 9 of a 16 week training plan getting ready for the Las Vegas RnR in November for my 22nd half marathon.

Don't worry!  I will be blogging a recap of it for sure!

May 8, 2016

Indy Mini 2016 Recap

Unless we just met, there's a pretty good chance you know I was lucky enough to serve as an ambassador for this year's race!  They even shared my story in one of the featured blog posts this year.  And if you signed up under me this year, THANKS!  It has been a very fun experience and I've enjoyed meeting so many new people along the way.  The 500 festival marketing director of running, Kim, is a very passionate individual who goes above and beyond to ensure perfection for the races and all the behind the scenes details.  It's all very impressive to peek behind the curtain.

Friday afternoon I made my way down to the Expo early afternoon with hopes of meeting up with other ambassadors, but I arrived earlier than I had planned and got through all the exhibits in pretty short order.  Picked up my shirts - in doing the mega mini challenge, I get 3 shirts and 3 medals; One for each race and a third for the challenge.  Thought I might line up to meet Meb, but the line was already over 2 hours long, so I settled for snapping a photo of him signing autographs.  Had an identical experience with him in Vegas last year.

Back home, carbed up with pizza king breadsticks and in bed around 9, sound asleep by 10.

Alarm goes off at 4:45, and I'm into my race day routine.  Shower, body glide, and all the gear that's been laying out since the night before (yes, I stuck with the same set up as the Carmel race).  Toast with peanut butter, banana and Gatorade for the car ride down.  I'm out of the garage by 5:20.

No traffic at all and I'm parked by 6:25 in the same lot I've parked in many times before.  Short walk to the port a pot, no gear check needed, and I'm in the corral by 6:40 for the 7:00 start of the 5k.  

Lined up to the front but stayed to the side.  Lots of kids around me, most are part of a group or club.  Back Home Again in Indiana, count it down, and we're off!   Those kids around me sprint out like they're in a 100 yard dash and I'm jogging easy just trying not to trample or get trampled.  Catch a few elbows from the early jockeying, yes it is very crowded, but I hold my line and make up my pace as I go.  

I ran tall and with alot of confidence from the gun, and had no reason to stress anything  This was my first time running the 5k here and I knew the course mirrored the mini course for the first mile, but once it turns across the bridge it takes a weird turn through an apartment complex that gets even more strange when you run through the IUPUI dental clinic parking lot - seems odd, but I guess you gotta do whatever it takes to make 3.1 work when you're sharing a start and finish line for two races.  The best part is kicking back out on to New York Avenue and heading to the finish line.    Worked my way around all those little kids that ran out of gas and finish with a smile!

I absolutely nailed this race - I thought I'd run a 33:33, but had a hard time holding back.  I literally nailed every mile with an identical pace for a 32:45 finish!  And the best part - I STILL FELT GREAT!

A designated lane for the Mega Mini participants puts me in line for a sticker on my bib instead of receiving my medal.  I'll pick up the 5k medal later - I grab a water and take the first exit back on to the street to head back to the starting corrals.  Went ahead and hit the portapotty one more time (never miss an opportunity), and I'm now in search of corral M.  Wave 2 starts at 7:45 and they're on their way.  That means I've still got 15 minutes to find my way through the gates for the start of my Wave 3.  Plenty of time for another selfie and facebook post.

Once we started moving forward to the start line, I was really getting excited.  I felt so good...and yet for some reason, I decided to take a powerbar gel.  I had 3 in my pocket anticipating a hot day that I might want something extra later - I have used powerbar gels for years, but had yet to train with them this year.  Spoiler alert:  I think this was my only mistake of the day - and it was a big one.

3, 2, 1...and we're off, I literally skipped my way to the start line and fell right into the rhythm of my stride.  Again, lots of crazies weaving in and out, but I wasn't phased.  Enjoyed looking around and even yelled out to a college fraternity brother, Jeff Klinck, whose band, Midnight Fire, always plays for the race in the first half mile!

Miles 1, 2, and 3 were picture perfect for me!  10:59, 10:48, 10:46 - This is the exact pace that I planned to run all day - and I'm feeling in perfect control to do so.  

Miles 4 and 5 were also right in line at 10:50 and 10:54, but VERY shortly into the 6th mile, I felt a little rumbly in my tummy!  It was sudden and painful.  Also early in that mile the winds picked up and I actually felt cold; very cold.  It didn't take long for me to assess that I was dehydrated.  I had skipped a water station at mile 2 and I likely did not have enough water between races as I was likely continuing to perspire while I was waiting to start the second race.

At this point, I had no choice but to walk.  It was WAY to early to be doing this.  I assumed my worst case scenario for walking was mile 10, and I had not even gotten to the track yet.  Maybe if I could just walk for a minute it would pass?  

We're about to enter the track and I spot my friend, Scott Smalstig standing with his son along the road (Scott's wife Tara was running today but I never saw her) - Seeing Scott gave me a burst of energy, so I jumped into a run and headed straight toward him!  Double high 5s up top and some words of encouragement was just what I needed!  I jogged into the tunnel that goes under the track and into the speedway, but as I hit the base of the hill and began to climb out of the tunnel to the infield, my body felt like it literally ran out of gas.  I had NOTHING!  I was moving at a snails pace to get to mile 6 and watched my watch click off a 12:51 pace.

Normally this would motivate me to get moving, but that was not the case today.  The winds continued to pick up, my body began to shiver, and then....raindrops!  C'mon Man!  Seriously?  I can walk pretty fast, and did all I could to keep moving forward at a quick pace.  I started making up games - silly games - like...I'll let 50 runners pass me before I start jogging until I pass 10 walkers and repeat.  Or...I'll walk 2 minutes before I run 1 minute and repeat.  And even, I'll walk 5 fence posts before I run 15 fence posts and repeat.  At the end of the day, the only thing I held on to was keeping every mile UNDER 14 min/mile pace.

Mile 7, 8 and 9 can be deemed a "success" based on this mission - 13:42, 13:47, 13:55.  I really didn't feel much better and to make matters worse, I could feel the calf muscles cramping each time I tried to push off into a running stride.  To add insult to injury, I could also feel some burning/chaffing under my arms rubbing on my tank - likely because of the rain and the change in my stride and arm swing while walking.  

Miles 10, 11 and 12 were an absolute gut check.  Survival mode.  I literally would watch my pace drift into the 14s before I would run it down to the high 13s and as I neared the mile markers would pick it up to "save" the mile - check out these paces - 13:57, 13:58, 13:59!  You can't make this stuff up!  It is sad to say, but it was ALL I HAD to do this.  My body HURT!  And why not, I'm well over 15 miles total for the day at this point!

So you would think the final mile would be heroic right...nope...I'm telling you I was spent - mile 13 was a smoking fast 13:53!  Of course the course is measuring long based on my inability to run the tangents, so I actually have 0.3 to go at this point.  I was running with my phone so that Molly could track me and it was also nice to read her texts of encouragement to me on my watch throughout the day!  I had considered pulling the phone out many times while walking, but knew I was "giving up" if I did that.  At this point, though, what the heck.

I opened it up and tried to do my first LIVE video on facebook while I finished, but it told me my connection was too weak.  Turns out a short video actually did go out, but it was cut short.  I fumbled with it a little more as I approached the finish line and finally just decided to shoot this video instead....


It's terrible quality, but what do you expect!  Hopefully what you feel is the pure exhaustion with just a hint of pride!  It was totally spontaneous and my mind was mush - (when I turn the camera toward the announcer, you can hear him say "Right on Christopher, You got this thing Christopher")  It was not how I thought my 20th half marathon would be end, but it's always a proud moment to reach any finish line!

Official Finish Time 2:47:52 - nearly 18 minutes slower than what I had in mind for the day.  Of course now with some time to further reflect, I really can't be too upset - It's called the Mega Mini Challenge for a reason, so give me my medal and let's move on!

Speaking of medals - how sweet is this!  The Mini Medal actually fits inside the 5k wreath medal. And the 16.2 Challenge Medal is HUGE!  The Borg Warner trophy is iconic for the 40th running of the Indy Mini in 2016, the same year that the Indy 500 celebrates 100 years of racing!  It's going to be a great month of May in Indy!

Naturally, I took the time to thank my friends from Prairie Farms for the best recovery drink on the planet!  I chugged an entire bottle before they snapped this one and blasted it all over instagram and twitter!  Be sure to follow Indiana Dairy this month to win great prizes!

And even though I didn't PR the 5k or the half - it was a PR of sorts for a combined effort of 16.2... so, I got one last pic with 3 of my mini ambassador friends in front of the PR Bell!  That's 12 medals between us!!

Final thoughts:  

1)  The Indy Mini is easily taken for granted because it's right here in my back yard!  It is truly the greatest race in the state, if not the nation, and I will not take it for granted ever again!  

2)  Meb never did catch me?!

3)  I have a lot of work to do before the NYC marathon in November

4)  I must start training with gels again on long runs

5)  Perspective is a good thing -  in 20 half marathons I have ran as fast as 1:57:36 and as slow as 3:59:29

Here are some screencaps that marathonfoto grabbed of me...I kinda like a couple of them, so I might throw a few bucks their way...

Join me next year???

April 17, 2016

Carmel Half Marathon Recap

Carmel Indiana was ranked the #1 place to live in America by Money Magazine!  And they had no shame in sharing this fact with us in the opening ceremonies!  More on that later...

I must begin by giving credit where credit is due - I would not have raced in Carmel if it weren't for the generous support of Dr and Mrs Jeff and Kari Schoonover from Indiana Vein Specialists!  Thanks so much to them for my sponsored entry!  It's a very special feeling to be sponsored by someone; not once; not twice; but now three times!  Thank you!

Carmel marathon weekend is a special place for me.  It is still my marathon PR course from when I ran in 2013.  And since I've never raced another 8k, it is also my 8k PR from the 2014 race!

Race morning was pretty uneventful - up at 5 a.m., shower to wake up, gear on, toast with peanut butter, banana and out the door by 5:40 - no traffic all the way and right into the parking garage at 6:30.  The plan was to meet up with other Indy Mini Ambassadors for a prerace photo at 7 a.m. at the start/finish line but only a few of us made it.

Checked my gear, one last potty stop and I'm in the corral for the opening ceremonies.  The Mayor opens with the above fact, some kids rattle off the names of every country represented in the race, sing the banner, pray for safety and countdown to the gun!

And we're off - straight into the sun - blinding!  You start on a slight incline, (which means you finish on a decline), but it's challenging to see much other than the road in front of you.  Not complaining though!  It's a beautiful day!  Already high 50s, no wind, clear blue skies, and it's only going to get warmer!

First 3 miles are mostly headed East on 126th street and I really felt quite strong.  The full and half run together during this time and that probably helped keep me moving with purpose.  Always trying to latch on to someone who appears to be running the same pace and not get caught up in the speedsters zigging and zagging by - still faster than I probably should have been, 10:12, 10:11, 10:20.

The next 3 miles were a gradual settling in as we work our way north toward 146th street.  10:29, 10:35, 10:49 - mile 6 was about what I expected my pace to be for the first 6, so I was well ahead of pace.

Between mile 7 and 8 the marathon leader caught me - the energy provided by the lead moto and Jesse Davis running a 5:30 pace by me helped to pull me along, but as that energy quickly faded and we weaved our way through the Hagan Burke trail I could feel my legs getting a little heavy.  The plan for the day was a 10 mile training run and then see what we had left.  I was able to run non stop through mile 10, but it started to get ugly toward the end.  Miles 7-10 were 10:36, 10:24, 10:44, 11:16.

Mission accomplished on the 10 mile training run - right around 1;45 at that point which meant I could virtually walk it in a a 15 minute pace and still manage to hit my bogey time for the day.  Prior to the race, I said I could probably manage a 2:30 race based on the training I have had to this point.  That reality felt really good, and other than just feeling tired, I was doing pretty good.  The back didn't hurt too bad and the legs were not interested in doing any hills, but could handle the flats without much strain, so might as well give it a go.

It was getting warm by now - well into the 60s and pushing 70 degrees!  Last 3 miles were a good mix of run, walk, jog, and just keep moving forward.  Didn't worry much about the clock, so brought it home with a 11:43, 12:04, 11:57 - and then of course, the last 0.1, which on my watch was actually 0.2 with my apparent inability to correctly run the tangents - but I proved to myself I had the legs left at the end by running in at a 9:10 pace to hit the finish line at exactly 2:23!  7 minutes better than what I expected!

And the best part - I still felt great!  Walked through the recovery area collecting food and drink - straight to get my gear where my phone was already blowing up with texts and comments on the automatic facebook posts that the race provides!  Of course, with the sponsored entry, I get VIP access, so headed up to collect more goodies there!

All in all, another very good day for the first race of 2016!  It gets me excited about running again and I'm ready to get out there and see what I can do for my next race - in just 3 weeks - at the INDY MINI!!!