December 26, 2011

Quest for 1000 miles

A year ago, I sat at a New Years gathering amongst friends where we went around the table and wrote down what we hoped to accomplish in 2011; for me, it was simple. Log 1000 miles!

Seemed simple. Easy to write. Easier to say. But how easy was it to do? The math seemed simple. 83.33 miles per month. Or 19.2 miles per week. Or 2.74 miles per day. Again, seems simple. But when I found myself at the halfway mark of 500 at the end of July , I was a full month behind.

Time for new math on the remaining 500 in just 5 months. 100 miles per month. or 22.7 miles per week Or 3.3 miles per day. Hmmm. Still possible. Sure, why not. Afterall, I'm entering marathon season!

With 2 months left though, I was even further behind and found myself needing OVER 100 miles for each of the last two months! Even with running a marathon the first weekend in November, I needed to rest and recover before I could crank the miles back up, and by the time we hit December, I still had nearly 104 to go!

No way I was letting this slip me by. The only thing that could stop me was illness or injury, and even then, good luck stopping me!

This morning with many of my best running buddies, I hit 1000+ and I did it with a new 4 mile PR!

So, How far is 1000 miles?
  • New York City to Tampa, Florida
  • Warsaw, Poland to Athens, Greece
  • From the northern tip of the Philippines to the southern most point
  • The full length of Madagascar
  • Across New Zealand
  • Most of the way across India
Finally, I figured out that from my home, I could run 1000 miles and reach:
  • Orlando, FL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Quebec, QC Canada
Anyways, it feels pretty cool to be able to say that I've run 1000 miles this year. I never thought I'd ever be counting in the first place. So, now what do I do?

November 12, 2011

2010-2011 Highlight Video

Enjoy this movie of my favorite race pictures from the last two years...


November 6, 2011

Monumental Marathon Race Report

Is today the day? Are we really gonna do this? Let's find out...

This morning's race transportation was compliments of my running partner Pete, his wife Amy, and her dad Clete. They picked me up at 6, and we were on our way, a small caravan with another car containing YRC Prez Ted and Matt (the old Chicago crew!), they also got Brad Wilson to come down and do the half marathon today.

We arrived only to find the lot we planned to park in closed, so found a parking garage nearby, but sadly got split up from the other car, and never reconnected. We parked and went on into the Convention Center to use the restroom, stretch, and get psyched. 7:45, we walked to the starting corrals.

First sign that this is nothing like Chicago, with less than 10 minutes left, we walk right up to our 4:40 pace group that we wanted to line up with, and I could hit a 9 iron to the start line, and pitching wedge to the back. (and I'm not a good golfer). Just not as many people, nor the energy to match. It was cold, 35 degrees probably, I was layered including a sweatshirt to wear for a couple of miles before I shed it to charity.

3, 2, 1, GO...or at least walk slowly for 5 minutes until we were at the start line. And we're off. Nice easy pace, no problem jockeying for position. Pete and I knew the course, and understood how to work left to right as needed to stay to the inside, and that's what we did. Mile 1 clicked off a little early against the marker, but we're solid at 10:35 and just hanging with the 4:40 pace group.

Mile 2 we realized the course was cut out a little differently than last year. Most likely because of the construction going on for the upcoming super bowl, but we're hugging the curb, and running smooth at 10:30. But as we turn onto Virginia Avenue to angle back toward downtown, we're going through a tunnel that is more than a city block long. There was no GPS signal in there, and both Pete and I lost our pace on our watch. By the time we hit mile 3, his runkeeper is off by almost a half mile, and mine by about a quarter mile. My clock showed that mile at 10:18, but that seems fast, to show you how bad we were off, Pete's said we did it in 8:12...NOT!

I shed my sweatshirt and pitched it to the curb to be donated to charity. I actually bought the sweatshirt at Goodwill for $4 last year for this exact race with the intention of pitching it, but I saw Molly at this point last year and threw it to her. This year Molly was still at home at this point, but she'd come out later to see me finish.

The course is different yet, as we go a quarter of the way around the Soldiers and Sailors monument, where as last year we went half way around, and this was a heavily populated area. This year, I decided to heed the advice of President Ted, and wrote my name on the front of my shirt. The thick heavy C-H-R-I-S proved to be worth the ruined shirt. With my name now exposed, I would guess a minimum of 4 or 5 people EVERY mile would yell "Go Chris", "Way to Go Chris", "Lookin' Strong Chris". There's something about people yelling your name that just makes you perk up and feel strong. If you ask Pete, he'd tell you he's already tired of hearing people yell my name!

Mile 4 probably took into account the inaccurate fast mile 3 with a slower mile 4 as it showed 10:58, but my guess is that both 3 and 4 were consistent at 10:38, as we were still hanging right in front of the 4:40 pace group. This was also the last point that we saw Amy and Clete. They came out fast with us, and hung with the group through mile 4 before they started to fade back. The leader of the group was great. Quite the comedian. "Did you hear about the two antenna's that got married? The wedding wasn't much, their reception was great!" - I know, I know - but he had lots of them. My favorite was "Dr. tells his patient I have bad news, and really bad news. Patient asks, what's the really bad news. Dr. says you have cancer and there's nothing I can do about it. Patient asks what's the bad news. Dr. says you have Alzheimer's. Patient says, well that's not so bad, it's not like I've got cancer!" and now I'm laughing - at mile 4 of a marathon! Love it!
Grabbed my first Gel with water at 4.5. And we're cruising to mile 5 at 10:20, followed by mile 6 at 10:17. You know what that means? We're pulling away from the 4:40 pace group. I don't hear them anymore at all. But we're feeling good. In fact as we cross the 10k timing mat at 1:05:35 (10:35 pace), I ask Pete, you feeling good? He says yeah, you? I say yeah, is this our day? He said could be. Pete says, "of course it's only mile 6". Shut up Pete!

We continue motoring and repeat our best pace with another 10:17 at mile 7. The long trek North takes us all the way to broad ripple, and really, we don't talk much at all for several miles. Just watching the supporters, following our own plan, and maintaining pace. Mile 8 is 10:34. Mile 9 is 10:28. Mile 10 is 10:25. By this time in Chicago, I had fallen well off the pace, and was whining to Pete about him going on. Not today! We are both feeling great.


One stand out comment from a spectator that made me laugh, w
as a guy sitting in a reclining lawn chair, who saw my name on my shirt, and simply said in a straight face, "Here comes Chris, the prerace favorite". I don' t know why, I just thought it was pretty funny. Mile 11 holds pace at 10:29. Mile 12 at 10:36. Mile 13 at 10:35. I can't believe it. We just ran a 2:18:43 half marathon (10:36 pace). I looked back over my shoulder and the 4:40 pace group is no where to be found. We are probably WAY out of our league! But I'm loving it.

Pete threw out some encouraging words, and we're still moving. Some guy holding a football caught my eye so I threw my hands up, and sure enough he threw it to me. I caught it, and struck a running Heisman pose and lobbed it back. Some sorority girls holding signs cheered my name quite enthusiastically while holding their "swea
t is sexy" signs. *smile* Having fun at mile 14 at 10:43.

As we finish mile 15, I can feel some tightness in my back, and for the first time, the split is the slowest of the race at 11:10, and I knew things were about to get tough. I had warned Amy in the car about "the Hill" at mile 16. And as we approached it, I said to Pete, "Know what I'm thinking?". I'm not sure he even said anything. I think he was okay with it too. And there it was, our first walking steps of the race. Can't believe we ran this deep at this pace. Leading the
4:40 pace group for over 15 miles; and with that thought, there they go. The 4:40 pace group went motoring up the hill like it was nothing, and mile 16 was a 12:19.

Pete says, that's okay, we got 4:45! Ha! NO! I said Pete, 5 hours is the goal. He sorta laughed and said, Let's go. If you want to stop reading here, all you need to know is that for the next 10 miles, I keep asking Pete if we can walk, and Pete keeps saying let's run. But if you want to kno
w how it ends...keep reading!

Mile 17 is consistent with mile 16 at 12:21 as we are still able to run more than we walk, but this is becoming more and more difficult. We are into Butler's campus, and the pain is pretty intense. Pete is getting me into a good pattern of picking out landmarks in the distance. "Okay, we're running to the second stop light". "Now we're running to the cop car". And I'd continue to renegotiate. "How about just to the stop sign". I didn't win that argument very often. M
ile 18 was slower yet at 12:50. Yikes.

I told Pete, we've got to find a rhythm here. On one of the short walks, I suggested we u
se the cones in the road. They were being used to divide the runners from the car traffic. Not knowing how far apart they are, I suggested we run 15 cones at a time. After we got to 3, we both laughed and said, maybe just 10. But as we got to the fifth cone, we agreed to walk. Pete says, let's just walk 2 cones, and then we'll go 5 more. The pain was growing pretty intense in my back, but I could tolerate it for these short runs. The 30k split was 3:26:35 (11:07 pace). I know we have to try not to fade too much if we're going to go under 5 hours (11:27 pace), but I can't do the math in my head. Mile 19 found 12:47, and I had a feeling this was the new norm.

The biggest downhill of the race is here at Mile 20, and we were able to run a little fart
her. But this mile was still only 12:20. With a 10k left, I just don't know how likely it is, so coach Pete kicks in with the run 5 cones, walk 2 cones theme, and this kept us moving for the next few miles better than I expected. At this point, I know that he will have to make a decision. If I can't go any faster, and he wants to break 5 hours, he's going to have to go without me. I make the offer. "If you need to go ahead, just do it". He laughs and says, I made that mistake in Chicago; it's you and I to the end. Mile 21 is 12:59 and flirting with getting into the 13s, must move forward faster. Mile 22 is better at 12:48.

I knew where we were, and I knew we were nearing an intersection that Molly could be waiting for me, but I assumed she'd probably just wait at the finish line. Thankfully, I was wrong, and as we neared the intersection, Pete first saw the kids and said, "well looky there!". Once I spotted my kids, complete with signs in hand....I broke down. *Tears*. I slowed to hug each of them. First Morgan, then Emma, then...hey where's Carter? Oh, he's standing on the other side of the guard rail, taking a leak. Which means mommy is also on the other side of the guard rail helping him get his pants back up. She jumps across to give me a kiss, but doesn't have time to get the camera out and on to take any pictures. Of course, I can't stop, or I may never get going again. So with the loud cheers from the family behind me, I push through, but I'm a mess. Can barely breathe, am trying to fight back the tears, and swallowing hard. Pete is encouraging, and immediately says, let's go run a couple more cones before we walk again. He was right, and I knew it, so we picked it back up and saved mile 23 at 12:57.
Sadly, Even with a 5k left, it's too late for me. The 5 hour pace group has now caught us, and is pulling ahead. Remember, they are running 11:27 pace, and we haven't done that since mile 16. I make another offer to Pete. "I'm sorry I can't do it, if you need to go...go". I'm still not sure why, but he refused. Laughing, "It's okay bud. We both are getting a PR today." I wasn't even sure what that required, so I had to ask, he said 5:15 is all we have to do. I could do simple math to know that we should be able to do that without much trouble.

Sticking with the strategy of running 5, and walking 2, Pete keeps us moving. He tells me he's going to be a prick for the next 3 miles. Occasionally, he says let's run 6, and through h
alf tears, I beg him, no. But he insists, and keeps us moving, but I beg for 3 walking cones, and occasionally he allows it, but this does cost us and we finally log our slowest mile yet at mile 24 with 13:11. We are on the home stretch, headed south on Meridian, and mile 25 is no better with 13:20. The tank feels empty, but we both know we're about to get our best times.

I remember changing my tune at this point, and saying, "Don't you dare leave me". Pete laughs and says, if I was going to leave you, I would've done it a long time ago. This made me very happy as I wanted nothing more than to finish it the way we started it. Together! Digging for some late mile energy, we somehow finish mile 26 at 12:28 according to my watch, and with my Garmin still off, the remaining .2 is actually about .5, but when we pass the real 26 mile m
arker, there's no more walking.
As we near the finish line and make the last turn, I'm looking left and right for Molly and the kids, and to my delight, there they are....AND HERE THEY COME! All three kids run out to us in the finish chute. I'm looking around to make sure there are no course officials yelling at us, and they are allowing it. Emma grabs Pete's hand. Carter grabs my hand. Morgan is running alongside, and I yell at her to come grab my other hand. We all cross the finish line holding hands, arms in the air, 2 seconds behind Pete with an official finish time of 5:04:54!
A personal best by over 16 minutes for me, and over 10 minutes for Pete. *Tears* I lean down and hug and kiss each kid individually and thank them. I proudly bow to receive my medal placed around my neck, and as soon as possible, I grab Pete and give him a hug like no other. How do you thank someone for pulling you through the toughest thing you'll ever do, and sharing success with you like no other? I just don't know how.
As we finish our celebration together, the question becomes, Where are Amy and Clete? I clearly underestimated her ability, as I expected to wait around for 30 minutes or more. Instead, with the technology, we were able to track her to know that she was barely 10 minutes behind us. She could easily beat my previous best of 5:21, and that's exactly what she did. As she rounded the final turn holding her father's hand, I could see the emotion on her face, and as she crossed the finish line at 5:17:35, we all went crazy for her. Congrats Amy on a great time at your first marathon!
The rest of the day was filled with story telling and celebrating. We all went to dinner together at Olive Garden, and later found out that Ted ran a PR at 3:43:11, and Matt also ran a PR at 3:48:13. Amazing! Very proud and happy for all of us. And for as much as I wanted to break 5 hours, I feel complete knowing that I truly gave everything I had. I know I'm done with these distances for 2011, but what will 2012 bring? I honestly don't know either...

October 29, 2011

Muncie Mini Race Report

Give me a "P"...Give me a "R"...What's that spell...? We'll get to that...

I have been the voice of the race for the last 8 months. The race director, Steve Tomboni, asked me to come record the commercial in the Spring. "My name is Chris Day, I used to weigh 310 pounds. I knew I had to change my life. And with the help of Muncie MultiSport, I was able to complete my first 5k, 10k, Sprint Triathlon, and I can't wait for this year to try the Muncie Mini Marathon". It was an honor to be asked to do the commercial, and many of my friends have commented all year that they had heard it. Then, without any expectation, Steve emailed me last week to tell me that I was going to be presented bib #1 as a thank you for my help promoting the race! Very cool. No money out of his pocket, just a nice gesture, that got me LOTS of comments today. The last few days, I had joked that I had some Kenyan blood in me, and that I was going to line up at the front of the field and be the rabbit for the first 100 yards. However, today, my joke turned into, "I was the only one that showed up for qualifications!" Before the race started, I got some laughs by walking around saying, "Excuse me, Pole Position coming through!". Good times!

Race morning started with helping the YRC president, Ted Johnson, set up a tailgate near the finish line so that we could party after the race. Molly joined us around 8 a.m. as she planned to run the 5k (yay, she's racing again). As others arrived, we started getting juiced up, and found our way to the start line for an 8:30 prerace meeting. However, problems with the speaker system made it impossible to hear anything. There were instructions, an invocation, and the national anthem, but I'm pretty sure no one heard them. A good crowd. Over 200 in the half, and another 120 in the 10k and 120 more in the 5k. But a lot of standing around until go time.

9 a.m., and we're off. I lined up near the front so that I didn't have to fight through anyone (and I had pole position). So, even though we had chip timing, my start time was just seconds off of the horn. Started on University Avenue by the Hospital, and headed East toward campus, cut through the quad by Beneficence, and onto McKinley North. Mile 1 clicked off fast at 9:16!

Passed the bell tower and then East on New York, past Noyer, Studebaker, and headed toward Minnetrista. Not much in the way of crowd support, but a few familiar faces. Mile 2 was 9:34. Winding through Minnetrista, and out the other side headed toward McCullough park. The cool thing about this area is that you're headed toward a turn around which means the leaders are coming right back at you, so you get to see everyone. I'm having a great time at this point, cheering on others, talking it up with people who are passing me, high fiving every YRC shirt in sight. Mile 3 was 9:41.

After the turn around, now you can see everyone who is still behind you, but the 10k folks are blended in there too because they're on the same route at this point. There are some tough hills to get out of the park (pictured) and back to Minnetrista, but I'm solid with Mile 4 at 9:57. Great volunteers around the area as we pick up the trail and catch the sidewalk alongside Wheeling Avenue (picture) as we head South toward the High Street Bridge. Pretty solid through this area, and catch Mile 5 at 9:51.

As we jump on the trail on White River Blvd, we get a nice downhill, but by the time we come back up at the Jackson Street Bridge, the legs are starting to feel it. Took my first Gel here at the water station. We stay on the road after some funky cross country area near the bridge construction, and turn North onto McKinley headed back toward campus. Mile 6 is off just a tick at 10:04. We turn West onto Gilbert and head toward the finish line...but it's way too soon for that. I've got to run that course again.

Molly was waiting for me at the completion of lap 1. She had already finished her 5k, and high fived me as I turned into the parking lot which runs us through the hospital parking garage, and back out onto University by the finish line. I caught David Rawls here in the garage. David and I met last year, and finished the Monumental Marathon within yards of each other. He and I seem to cross paths quite often.

DeJaVu, we're back on the exact same course for lap two. I'm still very solid. Mile 7 was 9:42, and Mile 8 was 9:57. Near the end of this mile, I saw Pete and Amy for the first time. They were cheering me on, and trying to figure out where everyone was. I told him I was solid at 9:50 pace, and feeling good. Little did I know, that was about to change...As I got into Minnetrista again, I was really feeling it in my legs, and got passed by a few more than I care to admit. Mile 9 was 10:17.

Into the park and headed to the turn around again, I was pleased to see many friends still coming out of the park, but remember the hills I mentioned earlier, yeah, they were still there. I could feel myself slowing down, and sure enough, Mile 10 was 10:42. As I'm on the Wheeling sidewalk headed toward the trails, I was excited for the downhill, but dreading that Jackson Street bridge hill. I was aware that my goal of 10 minute pace was slipping away, and was therefore going to be okay with walking that hill and just hanging on for a great PR. My goal for the day was 2:18, and I knew I was going to get that. Mile 11 is a little slower at 10:47.

So, I'm coming up to the Jackson Street bridge, totally ready to start walking when without warning I hear, "Come on Bud!". What? Are you freaking kidding me? It's Pete! WTH? He and Amy chose to come to that spot for God knows why (to help me obviously), but how can I walk now? So I struggle, barely running to get up the hill, and Pete has the nerve to say to me, "Don't think about the full marathon next weekend". SERIOUSLY? I hadn't thought about that at all until he mentioned it! Thanks a lot! However, he helped me up the hardest part of my race, so how can I be angry? At this point, I refused to walk, so kept the slow jog on, but Mile 12 was easily my slowest at 11:22.

So, here we are, turning onto the home stretch and I'm thinking I've got a mile left, but I'm looking down the road and it doesn't seem that far. And guess what? It wasn't! As I see the sea of yellow (YRC shirts) waiting for me, I hear Molly above everyone else, yelling "You're going to PR by like 12 minutes! Go, Go, Go. You're going to do 2:10" WHAT? 2:10. My goal was 2:18, My dream was 2:11 (ten minute pace), but I had stopped looking at my watch after mile 12. Had I picked up the pace that much? Who cares. I see the finish line, and am striding out for it, and with a 13.1 mile smile, I cross at 2:10:16! ...2:10:16? How the...hmmmmmm. Yep, my Garmin measured the course short. 12.84 miles? Hmmmm?

So now the mind games start. Did I really do a mini marathon in 2:10:16, or do I add 3 minutes for what should have been another quarter mile to go? You know what. I wish it measured out correctly, but after talking to several others, I came to realize...it's not that big of a deal. I would have PRd anyway. I know what I'm capable of, and today was the best race I have ever run at this distance. I'm not going to let this get me down in the slightest.

Highlights of the day: I am in awe of my wife for getting moving again, and deciding to do it completely on her own. I am inspired by so many of my YRC friends, many of which had PRs today as well. Some that I have known well for years, and others that I honestly just met today. It is an amazing running community that we've created, and the support is unlike anything I've been a part of. Celebrating together afterward at the tailgate was the icing on the cake.

Disappointments of the day: I do wish the course had measured 13.1 on my watch, but not a huge deal. Every finisher got a magnet. A magnet? I don't get that. For many, this was their first half marathon, and all they have to show for it is a magnet. Really should have had finisher medals for everyone! Molly had the brilliant idea to punch a hole through the IU logo, and string it to a lanyard...instant medal! And along those same lines, Cotton Tshirts are great for 5ks, but tech shirts are appropriate for this level of sport.

As I write this tonight, my legs actually feel pretty good. Feet are a little sore, but I think I'll feel it a little more in the morning. Should get some good rest this week, and maybe just 1 or 2 short runs, and then in just one week...MONUMENTAL MARATHON!! Stay tuned!

October 23, 2011

Because that's where it started...

Okay, that's not the real reason, but first off, let's address the question...

WHY WOULD I CONSIDER RUNNING THE MONUMENTAL MARATHON???

The real answer is because I feel like I got one better in me! Chicago was great. Incredible. Amazing. But it didn't meet my goal time. I've got to try again!

I've done all this training, all year long. How can I just...be done.

The issue is this. I am running the Muncie Mini Marathon the week before! And, being the competitive person that I am. I'd really like to PR it as well.

So here is the plan. A couple easy runs this week, and then hit the Mini with a ten minute pace for 6-7 miles. Take inventory of how I'm feeling, and then decide...If I can PR (2:21), then I go for it! Holding on to ten minute pace would get me 2:11! If it becomes obvious that that will not happen, then I'm going to pull it back and just jog it in easy to save it for Monumental.

Next week, we'll do just one short easy run, and then let the legs recover. The goal for Monumental remains 5 hours. PR is priority, but I am confident I can go under 5 hours! If the weather cooperates, and Pete and I can repeat our last 20 or 22 mile training runs from Chicago, this can and should happen.

2 fulls and 1 half marathon in less than a month! INSANE!?

But as the title says...Monumental will be very special. Because that's where it started...

October 10, 2011

Chicago Marathon Race Report

Ah Chicago...where to begin...?

Saturday morning as the kids finish soccer and vanish into the care of my father, we pick up Pete and Amy Olson. Team Day and Team Olson arrive in Chicago and head straight to packet pickup. There we met up with Team Johnson and Team Stinson, who have been there for hours and are on their way out. We spent a good 2 hours in the expo, and could have easily spent more.

An incredible display of sponsors and shopping everywhere, but the highlights were seeing famous people like Hal Higdon, shopping at the nike booth and becoming a nike+ member which gets me free engraving of my medal, and finding my own name among the 45,000 registered runners...

Once we left there, and got checked into the hotel, we had but a couple minutes to relax before it was off to dinner. Besides being at the same hotel, we had also planned to meet up with Team Johnson and Team Stinson for dinner at a great Italian restaurant for our final carb load. No one was disappointed with Quartino's! We spent a good couple hours laughing, reminiscing, and motivating each other for tomorrows race, and I think the wives enjoyed themselves too!

Back to the hotel and early to bed, alarms are set for 5:15 a.m., and we'd need all the energy we could get!

Up and at em, shower, power bar, top off fluids, and downstairs to meet Ted and Matt at 6. A 20 minute walk to the starting corrals at this hour was really cool to literally be among thousands of athletes walking down Michigan avenue in the dark toward Grant Park. First sign of a port-a-pot with about 45 minutes til the start, and we run into Team Thomas! Gary Thomas and his brother, Michael, hooked up with us, and we found our way to an open area to stretch and relax. Ted and Matt left us to start with the Kenyans at the front (or at least halfway between us and them); and Gary, Michael, Pete and I slipped into the 4:45 pace group. This is with 20 minutes to the start and the corrals are packed like sardines, and we are one of the last ones to get in before everyone else is left on the sidewalks waiting to scramble in after the gun.

The speaker nearest us was not working, so we couldn't make out much of what was being said, but the National Anthem got everyone quiet enough that we could hear it well, and I could feel a little chill go through my body, and knew that reality was about to set in. No idea when the race really started. Couldn't hear a gun or a command to start; instead we all just started moving VERY slowly toward the front. As we came into range of a working speaker, the music cranked up, and crowd noise began to increase. (Thanks for taking these pics Pete!)

As we neared the start line (more than 15 minutes later), it became obvious that no one was going anywhere fast, and for the most part everyone was struggling together to get into their pace. The road splits, and we joked about whether to go left or right, but it all comes back together on the other side, and that's where you first get a sense of what the crowd is going to be like. People are lined up 3 to 4 deep, shoulder to shoulder, for as far as the eye can see. Both sides of the road, and hanging on every bridge, overpass and building in every direction. But they're not just standing, they are yelling, cheering, clapping, ringing cowbells and noise makers, and holding signs for their loved ones, yet you are made to feel like everyone of them are there for YOU. (This goes on for the ENTIRE race!) One of the most memorable parts of the first mile is a bridge tunnel area. The tunnel was a blessing and a curse. Once inside the tunnel, all of the athletes start yelling as LOUD as they can, and the echo inside was amazing. It was SO loud you couldn't hear the person next to you. This was not a short tunnel, this was a good quarter mile...thus the curse. My Garmin lost its satellite connection, and it screwed up the distance/time. I didn't realize it at the time, but by the time it beeped at me that we were at mile 1 and I was only 9:10 into the race, I knew there was a problem. We were still right there with the first pace group and in fact went through a second shorter tunnel in Streeterville before we ultimately got to the mile 1 marker, and the watch read about 10:40. This means the GPS on my watch was immediately .15 long, so now I have to rely on the mile markers, pace group, and the 4:45 pace chart temporary tattoo on my forearm.

Shortly after mile 1, we hear a couple familiar voices...I'll let the video tell the story...
I must admit, I had no idea, how much I needed to hear that until it happened! We both smiled and laughed and were immediately energized! Heading back South and across the river again toward the Loop, I realize that they've laid temporary carpet on the bridge, and I can feel the different texture under it in my feet, but not sure if they've done this for the point of how it feels, or how it looks, since you can see through it all the way to the water below. I suppose it could also be to accommodate those crazy barefoot runners! The rest of mile 2 was no problem, holding tight with the pace group, and enjoying the thick crowds, reading the signs, etc., still feeling very good.

Miles 3, 4 and 5 has us heading on a long stretch North toward Gold Coast. Molly and Amy found us here for the second time. The people along this stretch are pretty solid, and energetic, but it was nothing special to me. The sun was bright and without a hat or sunglasses, it was difficult to keep my head up to see well. We hung with the pace group, and was sure to drink one or more cups at each aid station as the heat was starting to pour on, and I was sweating as much as I do in a typical summer 10k.

Lincoln Park is a large area, that was most memorable to me from the smell of what I believe was possibly elephants? In any case, mile 6 and the 10k mark clicked off exactly where they should. My official 10k split was 1:08:14 which was perfectly timed to the 4:45 pace group plan.

Miles 7 and 8 take us as far North as we go, and turning back toward downtown, we are now in Wrigleyville, and at some point through here, Molly and Amy found us for the third time. Amy is a veteran of the CTA, so she gave Molly quite the lesson in train hopping today.

It was somewhere into mile 9 that the body started to break down. The heat was certainly taking its toll on me, and was causing me to hunch over and have bad form. This brought out the worst in a lingering back pain I had experienced earlier this week. I fought through it silently for a while, but ultimately confided in Pete that today was likely not going to be my day, and he needed to decide what he needed to do for himself. The 4:45 pace group faded into the distance ahead of us, and my 15k split was the last respectable number I would have for a while at 1:43:24. Pete said, it's you and me today, and agreed to walk with me. I told him, "I need a plan", and he said okay, we run to mile 10. And so we did.

My memory is a little fuzzy here between miles 10 and 13 as I was in and out of walking and jogging, and the pain was becoming quite intense, but I remember going through areas in what I believe were Boystown and Old Town, where the entertainment was as good as anywhere. Great music, great dancers, costumes, etc., Good thing I was able to enjoy it because at this point, I was not enjoying the run! At some point in here, I told Pete, "I love ya, but I gotta let you go". He said back to me, "not until we see the girls to tell them". I then said, "Bad news, we're not even half way yet, Good news, you're going to go faster on the back than the front!" We were scheduled to see them at 13 if they had made the train, and so I tried to run a little more to allow him to keep moving well, and now motivated by the fact that the 5 hour pace group caught us!

As we are coming up on mile 13, there they are! As soon as I saw Molly, I became emotional knowing that I was about to admit to her that I was not strong enough to continue at this pace. She was all smiles as we ran toward them to tell them we were splitting up, and though I can barely speak and am fighting back the tears, she just smiles right through me, and says, "it's okay, just keep moving, keep going, and do your best" *Tears*

As Pete pulls away from me, I grab him by the shoulder and tell him how strong he is. That he can stay with that 5 hour group, and he can go under 5 hours. I yell out one last "I'm proud of you", and there he goes. I continue jogging, and I swear he had them passed before we hit the 13.1 marker. My half marathon split was 2:32:51. Which means even if I could repeat what I just did, I would be over 5:05. I knew 5 hours was a long shot at this point, and I try to refocus on the possibility of beating my previous marathon time of 5:21:53. I knew this would be tough since on that day, my half marathon split was 2:22:00, and I'm running 10 minutes behind that currently. How can I make that up on the back??? ...1 mile at a time!

And thus begins my lonely quest to find motivation. Miles 13 and 14 take us as far West as we go, through Greektown and the West Loop, and miles 15 and 16 bring us back toward downtown, but there is not much here to help with the motivation with the exception of a Charity village which gives you the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the opportunity to even be here today.

I remember going through Greektown and Little Italy with mixed success of continuing to run and walk. I started making silly deals with myself. Run to the next stop light and then walk to the following, then run to the aid station, and walk through it, then run til you see a naked baby dancing in a sprinkler (yep saw it), then run faster to get away. This was all very silly, but it kept my mind occupied and kept me running more than walking. By this time, my Garmin is a good half mile off. Now into University Village and crossing the 30k marker with a split of 3:47:13 which means I'm still fading with the last 15k being over 2 hours (approx 13:15 per mile).

At this point, I know I'm going to see Molly and Amy again soon, that is assuming that they are still there. For all I know, they saw Pete, and decided to go on to see him finish rather than waiting for me; or worse yet, they split up and Amy went on, leaving Molly to fend for herself on the subway system (scary thought). At this point, I decide there are really only two things that can save this experience for me. 1) If Molly is still there, I will ask her if she'd like to walk with me to the finish. I am willing to the sacrifice my time, in order to share a casual 6 mile walk to the finish line with my wife, so that she can experience it with me, or 2) if she's not there, or if she says "no thanks", then I will run with everything I have left to try and PR.

I'm now at the 20 mile marker and doing the math in my head and realize, in order to PR, I'd have to run 12 minute pace the rest of the way (not likely), so I sure hope Molly is there and is ready for a walk! Not really sure where she might be, I'm still jogging looking for her, and with a smile and thumbs up, I find them! I hear Amy say Pete is 15 minutes ahead of you (good maybe he can still break 5 hours), and as I run to Molly and start walking, she walks with me and I propose to her to walk with me the rest of the way. She says no quickly, and I request again, are you sure, this could be fun. She appears to think about it for a moment, but says she can barely walk with me at my walking pace. I tell her I will slow down and we'll take our time, but she says no, you go on and do your best. I smile and give her a kiss, and know what I have to do.

I immediately start running faster than I have in many miles. For the last 6 miles, I've been well over 13 minute pace, and now need to get it down to 12 or less. I know I have to run more than I walk, so I continue with the same set of silly deals, but look further into the distance before I think of walking. One of the best things that happened for me was that the 5:15 pace group caught me. Assuming that they were 6 minutes behind me at the start, then I had to go with them to the end to come in under 5:21.

Mile 21 take me into Chinatown, which is by far one of the most memorable areas on the course. Besides the obvious language, and cultural differences, the spirit is second to none when it comes to their level of support for the event. This really kept me moving, smiling, and focusing on longer running spells. Mile 22 is a dry area, many less spectators, and nothing motivational about it. It is gut check time, and now I'm doing the math backward. 4.2 to go. 4X12 is 48, plus .2 more means I have about 50 minutes to finish, and my current time is 4:30, so I have to keep moving.

Taking the bridge across the interstate, and we are now by Vandercook School of Music which stood out to me for obvious reasons. And there is an aerial boom lift with photographers!? Really? Photographers at mile 23? Whose bright idea was this? Is this just to capture the sheer pain of this point in the race. (picture) Thanks for nothing marathonfoto.com! In any case, time to do the math again, 3.2 to go 3X12 is 36 plus.2 more means I have 38 mins to go, and my current time is 4:42. Still right there.

Now at the Southernmost point of the course, it's time to turn back North for the final stretch. These last 3 miles are anything but easy, there is less shade and the crowds are still thin, as they're all at the last mile waiting for us. Now crossing mile 24, and one more time with the math, 2.2 to go 2X12 is 24 plus.2 more means I have 26 minutes to go and I'm at 4:56. I have to pick it up and have a kick!

At 24.2 there was some great music and a loud DJ that was very motivational. He made me feel like 2 miles would be nothing, and helped push me through another tough stretch. My 40k split was 5:05:37 which meant I had just run the last 5k at 12:17 pace, but needed more and so I made a deal with myself that I would not walk again after mile 25. I told myself I would start running at 5:09 on the watch or mile marker 25 which ever came first. And cue 5:09 on the watch. RUN!

And. I. Did. The crowd was thick, the noise got loud, and with 800 meters (half mile) to go, the road turns toward the lake, and up a hill before you make the final turn to the finish. The noise (even 5 hours after the start) is amazing! Raucous cheers all around as I sprinted to the finish like my life depended on it, and pressing the stop button on the watch it reads 5:21:01. A new PR!!! According to my Garmin, the last .85 of the race was run at a 10:31 pace, and my Heart Rate peaked at 190 bpm! Final results show me in 27545th place out of over 35556 finishers from over 45000 registered!


All smiles...for the moment. My heart was happy, but my body was not. I moved slowly to the medal area, where I happily bowed to a volunteer as they placed the medal around my neck. I clinched it, I kissed it, and then...well then I didn't feel so good.

I didn't even make it to the water table before I knew I needed to sit. I was stumbling side to side and knew I could no longer stand. I found some shade next to a skid of gatorade boxes along the curb and took a seat. I was exhausted. I sipped on what was left of the gatorade and water on my fuel belt, but ultimately did not feel any better, I decided I better get up and move around so I didn't tighten up much. Only problem, I couldn't stand without assistance. A volunteer was close enough to hear me so I asked him for assistance getting up, and before he could get to me, there were 2 RNs beside me helping me to my feet. I asked them to steady me for a second, and one of them insisted that I put my arm around her. The two of them helped me to the water table, and then just the one stayed with me. She began asking me lots of questions, name, age, hometown, bib number, finish time, etc., all in an understandable attempt to assess my state of mind. I was fine, mentally, I just couldn't walk. So I returned the favor of asking the questions. I learned that Emily was a 23 year old PT student who has lived in Chicago for 5 years, but this was her first time volunteering at the marathon. She thanked me for making her day interesting (pretty sure she wanted my phone number, but I showed her the wedding ring). We got to the bananas and worked together to get it peeled and as I finished eating it, she looked at me and said. I'm sorry Chris, but I can't let you leave yet. (excuse me?) I must take you to the medical tent for further evaluation. (She's definitely not getting my number now).

Upon entering the medical area, there are two options. You either go to critical care or urgent care. The MD at the entrance sent me to urgent care. Good. I'm not critical! Critical care was inside a tent, urgent was just an open seating area outside with cool fans, etc. I asked to be seated in the shade. Another RN came to me and assessed me. I confirmed that I was just exhausted and overheated. I showed her that per my heart rate monitor that I was still at 130 bpm, and had probably been done for 10 minutes or longer. She asked what I needed, and I said ice to sip on and eat to try to cool my core would help the most. She obliged and included a cool wet towel for my head. I sat there quietly eating my ice and looking around at others who were in far worse shape than myself, and wondered why I was even here, so when she returned to check on me, I asked if I should try to move around, and she said sure, walking is good. She helped me to my feet, and steadied me momentarily before asking me to take baby steps. And there I stood. Could. Not. Move. I quickly felt nauseous and sick to my stomach. That pain my back that I had dealt with for the last 4 hours suddenly felt like a knife in my back, and back down I went.

I sat there for 20 minutes, often borderline tears as nurse after nurse came by to check on me. Finally they told me I needed to try and walk again, so up I went. Baby steps, slowly, and that's when I heard it. We need to move him to Critical care. NO! I knew this couldn't be good. Before I could blink there was a wheelchair behind me, and I was being wheeled in. A doctor in front of me says, what is your bib number. I replied confidently as if I didn't need to be here 32932. He doesn't even talk to me, instead he turns and yells. THREE, TWO, NINE, THREE, TWO. STATION NINE. And here we go for a ride to triage area 9. O.M.G.

Here is what I observe. MULTIPLE cots with IVs being administered, a row of Ice Baths all full with people in line. Rows of Massage therapists, and another area with drapes and blankets that included people SCREAMING F***, F***, F*** in pain. I don't even want to know what was going on back there.

As they set me on a cot, a team of 4 are assigned to me. 1 MD, 1 RN, 1 doing paperwork, and 1 assistant of some kind. They again ask me all the same questions that I've answered for the last half hour, and now I'm nearly in tears because of pain and being frustrated. Part of me just wanted to answer the "what's wrong" question with, "I just ran 26.2 miles in 75 degree weather, that's what's wrong!" But I remained calm, and finally said to the doctor...*TMI ALERT* My back pain is severe, but my stomach pain feels like a cramp that can only be solved by puking or pooping! I don't want to puke, because I will lose those fluids, and you will say I'm dehydrated and give me an IV, which I don't believe I need, so can I try to go poop? *I told you TMI* And so they escorted me to a port a pot, so I could find some relief, and it did help, but ultimately, the back pain was what was keeping me from walking. The answer...MASSAGE!

Yes, that's right, my critical care experience, turned into the best 15 minute massage of my life. She found that knot quickly, and went to work on it. At times it hurt enough for me to let out the loudest scream in the tent, while other times I moaned approvingly. She was old enough to be my mother, and not attractive in the slightest, but had the most magical hands. She literally moved the knot down my back into my buttocks, and I found incredible relief. They sat me up gave me Gatorade, and signed me out with one last vitals check.

Gee, I wonder where my wife is? I had thought of this earlier, but when I asked if she had been notified, I was told that she was not notified, because family was not allowed in this area. Because I was being released though, a nurse offered me her cell phone to call Molly. "Hi honey, I'm fine"; "Where are you"; "I am in a medical tent". *sigh*. We coordinated where to meet, and I hobbled toward the exit. As she sees me and waves at me, her first words are, "You're in big trouble mister". I understand.

We walk (slowly) back to the hotel and share our stories. I wrap my arm around Pete and say, please tell me you broke 5 hours. Sorry bud, 5:15. Nothing to be sorry about. You beat me by 6 minutes at your first marathon (awesome), but it is pretty impressive that I was catching him given his 15 minute lead on me at mile 20. By the time we reached the hotel, Team Johnson and Team Stinson had already showered and left. We called them later to learn Ted ran 3:50 and Matt ran 4:45, they too, had split up after the halfway point with Matt having similar cramps. It was HOT. In fact, we learned soon after, that some collapsed 500 yards from the finish, and ultimately died. 35 year old firefighter. Dead. Reality check.


We were all hurting and decided we'd let dinner be delivered to us. So a quick call to Giordano's, and an hour later we are refueling. We passed on a possible plan to hit a comedy club, and instead decided to take a stroll down Michigan Avenue to the Nike store where Nike+ members receive free engraving for their medals, and a complimentary photo! Proudly displaying our medals and with a badge of honor limp, we hobble a few more blocks to discover a Ghirardelli Chocolate and Ice Cream place to replenish those 4380 calories that I burned.

Slept well last night, and the car ride home did not help my back any, but it did give me plenty of time to think about the future of my marathon racing....we'll save those thoughts for another blog...

October 5, 2011

Pre Chicago Thoughts and Thanks

It's Wednesday evening before Sunday's marathon, and I have a lot on my mind. = Time to blog!

Steve Jobs passed away this afternoon, and facebook has lit up tonight with many RIP comments, but these words have stood out to me for the way I translate them to my desire to run.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied, is to do what you believe is great work,
And the only way to do great work, is to love what you do.
If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.
Don't settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it,
And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.
So keep looking until you find it.
Don't settle.
~Steve Jobs

For anyone who has a desire to run or complete a marathon, this may be well understood. For the rest of you, I'll do my best to explain.

I run for me, but I never settle. Some will call this selfish, but in fact, it's quite the opposite. When I started this journey 18 months ago, I had no idea where I would end up, and to be honest, I'm still not sure where I end up. But I do it for me, and I won't settle. However, this journey has shown me that in the midst of improving my own health, I have somehow inspired a host of other people. Perhaps you are one of them? The simple fact that you are reading this tells me that you've taken an interest in my activity. Why? If you found this blog, it means you are a facebook friend, and the fact that you haven't "blocked" me on facebook says that you can tolerate my many posts about running.

Many of you have already asked me, how did you get started, why did you get started (it's all in this blog by the way), but the simple answer is I did it by taking the first step, and I did it for me. However, the key to the success, goes far beyond me. When I cross the finish line Sunday, I can pat myself on the back because I completed something that no one else can do for me. I did this. I did this on my own, with no one else helping....didn't I?

Yes, I did....but, No, I didn't. I did it with your help. Yes, you! You've taken the time to follow me, to support me, to cheer me, and occasionally to mock me even. But every single comment motivates me. Every single one. Your comment is verification to me that you are aware of what I am doing. If you judge my success based on my time or my placement, then you simply don't get it. But that's okay. Once you take your first step, you will understand. The awareness that I create with my posts provides accountability to me. If I stop posting, won't you ask what I've been doing? If I put the weight back on, would you say something? I hope you would.

To be specific, I have to thank certain groups of people. First off, thank you to my family. Especially my wife, Molly. The countless hours that you allow me to spend on the open road away from my family (even before the sun comes up), is something that I may take for granted. Because you have never questioned me, and because every time I return, you always ask how it went, I know you care and support my efforts. Thank you for allowing the kids to have an active role in my workouts and races. I hope they will develop their own good habits based on what the example we set for them.

Thank you to all the members of YRC, and especially founder and coach Ted. You've done nothing but support me, especially when I was just getting started, and consistently brought up the rear of our long runs. I am proud to where the Yellow YRC shirt Sunday and hope to represent you all well! You inspire me, and because of you, I can say, I am a marathoner!

Thank you to Muncie Multi Sport owner Steve and all their supporting athletes and volunteers. Again, from the very first introduction, the first open water swim practice, the many phone calls asking for advice, and even through my trip to the ER, you've all remained so supportive in my efforts. We have many more miles together. Because of you, I can say, I am a triathlete!

Finally thanks to all my local supporters. From the Yorktown YMCA, to the best running partner I could have ever asked for, Pete. Though I joke about blaming Pete for suckering me into the Chicago marathon, I suppose, I will probably thank him when it's all done. (we'll see)

The hard work is done for this one, there's just one short run in the morning and then nothing but rest and stretching until race morning. Eat well, carb load, and hydrate is the only plan for the rest of the week. All the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes come down to that one unforgettable moment. Crossing the finish line!

So, what about Monday? When I wake up Monday (assuming I can still move), I celebrate the accomplishment, and then I move on to the next goal. I have come to learn that I work best under a plan, so the plan is to race the Muncie Mini on October 29, and then work toward my goal of logging 1000 run miles in 2011. I don't know where it ends, or how it ends, or if it ends. But for now, this is who I am, and I'm thankful to have you in my life to share this with me. Let me know if you need any help with your first step. It's not easy, but it's worth it!

September 17, 2011

22 mile training run report

Just a quick note to self: Chinese food the night before your longest training run of the year, was probably not the best idea. - Seriously, I thought the rice (high in carbs) and broccoli were a good choice, but who can have Chinese without the General Tsos chicken?! I was tired of the same old pasta, so I wanted to try something different. We tried Mexican two weeks ago before the 20, and it played out well, but Chinese, not so much.

Run started off like any other long run, just settling into a good even groove. Pacing out mile after mile around Pete's neighborhood, then up through Cammack and down to the Y, swing through the neighborhood for water, and back to Pete's for the first 11. 10:35 pace. No problem!

Ran the route the opposite direction for the back half, and somewhere during mile 15 I started having some pretty good stomach cramps. The gastric pain was relieved only by farting and belching, which I couldn't do as often as I would like. It felt like air in the stomach and I'm convinced (now) that it was the wrong fuel from the night before.

Pete hung with me and we ran/walked a couple more miles, but as we finished 17, he said he was feeling good, so I encouraged him to go on so he could finish strong enough to have the confidence he needed going into race day. As he left me I walk/jogged my slowest two miles at 13:11 and 13:25.

Couldn't have that, so I got into a better pattern of walk/jog for the last 3 miles, and though I had some leg/calf/hamstring muscle cramps/pain/tightening going on, I was still able to maintain a 50/50 mix of run/walk. Jogged the 22nd mile in to save the overall pace at 11:17. 11:20 is 5 hour pace, so if I can hold that pace on a tough day like this, than I have hope that I can still meet the goal.

Pete, on the other hand, finished strong, running his fastest miles of the day once he was done carrying me around town all morning. He was able to run a sub 10 pace home and save a 10:56 overall pace.

Comparing the 20 to the 22 is a little scary. We ran 3:26 on the 20, and today I was about 3:46 at the 20. That's a minute per mile different. So now the question is, which Chris will show up on race day?

P.S. I let Molly eat the leftover Chinese for lunch today!

September 3, 2011

Still Tri ing


Today was the 1 year anniversary of the infoamous quadathlon. (Swim, Bike, Run, Ambulance Ride) - You can read about it here...

I have done 2 other races this year in June and July, and was really not planning to do another one this year, but after nursing a ligament strain the last two weeks, and doing additional cross training with less running, I decided I could give it a go.

Signed up yesterday morning under the recent news of a nearly full field. This race was the MidEast Region Collegiate Championships, so there were college kids from 22 different schools racing today. Made for a full course, but was also motivating to share the course with such talent.

Stomach was a little upset this morning, and I race morning nerves weren't helping, but my morning routine went as planned. Molly and the kids came out to watch, and as always, many of my tri friends were racing today too.



Swim start was solid, but it was crowded as the college females were on their 2nd lap as I entered the water, and I had to fight across them to the first inside buoy for the sprint turn. Somewhere around 300 yards, I was REALLY glad that I was doing the Sprint and not the Olympic distance. I had to sneak in a few breast strokes, but otherwise was very happy with my swim split of 8:27 (41 out of 95)

Ran up the hill to the cheers of my family, and made my first transition boo boo - Turns out, if you put your helmet on first, you can't get your shirt on over it!!! Lesson learned! Helmet off, shirt on, helmet back on and I was still out of T1 faster than ever before in 2:35

Mounted the bike and clipped in quick. Passed 3 people immediately who were struggling to clip, and found a good rhythm. I was only a couple miles into the bike when the college male leader passed me. If not for the university logo on his back, I wouldn't have been able to identify the blur. These boys were fast! The bike course was crowded at times, 3 wide passing and lots of communication going on. Spotted a familiar face in the last couple of miles and had fun jockeying back and forth with him which helped pull me to my fastest bike split ever - 39:04 - 19.1 mph - (48 out of 95)

I came out of my shoes at the end of the bike (first time trying this) and dismounted in my socks to run to my rack. Helmet off, running shoes on and double tied, and I was out of T2 quicker than ever before in 1:28. (how do some do it in under a minute!?)

I charged out of transition (nearly tripping on the timing mat), took water and high kneed it out of there to try to gain circulation back into my hamstrings! Quads were tight, but knee felt good. I was solid for the first mile (Garmin showed 9:56), but quick math told me I was going to have to 9:10s in for a PR, and by this time it was mid 80s, and I was baked!! A few walking steps each mile, and double fisted the water/gatorade at the turnaround. I was able to run it in from the half mile mark, but it all paced out to 10:27 (70 out of 95) ugh.

Total time was 1:23:55 which is 21 seconds faster than the June race. The July race was a different setup (Ironman), so it's not really apples to apples to compare. I will take this race as another experience and good cross training. Time to put the bike away and refocus on Chicago!!



August 28, 2011

Kneeding to rest!

I can't run today, so I might as well blog!

For the first time in my running "career", I have an injury. It was probably only a matter of time, but this is not a good time for this to happen. With 7 weeks until Chicago, I was out on an 18 miler when I felt some discomfort behind my left knee around mile 7. I opted to run through it, but it got gradually worse, and by mile 10, I had to walk. I used a run/walk combo for the next few miles, and ultimately had to finish the distance walking.

This morning I finally got to talk to Dr. Williams, who diagnoses it as a ligament strain in the lowest part of my hamstring behind the knee, but it's really not the knee at all.

Prior to the diagnosis, and immediately after last weekend's run, I was concerned for the timing of it all, and decided I needed to get something figured out quick. No, I didn't call 911, I took a facebook poll of course! Most of my trusted runner friends told me to stay off it, while many suggested pulling the miles back. I had every recommendation from amputation to voodoo dolls.

At the end of the day, I agreed on a regular regimen of ice 3 times daily with ibuprofen, and greatly reduced miles.

Monday was a rest day, and I skipped Tuesday's run and Wednesday's. Decided to test it on Thursday and only got 3 miles in, of which only 1.5 were pain free. On Friday I took a very casual 3 mile walk, and again rested on Saturday.

Feeling like the pain was mostly subsided, I decided to test it again today. Today was scheduled to be a 13 miler, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. I thought I might go 3 to 5. The first 2 were pain free, but some tightening crept in, so I walked a little, then ran a race pace for 1.5 miles, and ultimately walk/jogged my way home for a total of 6.5. I would rate it at 80% today, but realize I need to continue resting and ice.

The pain of not running the way I want, or worse yet, not running at all, is actually more painful than the injury. Skipping Chicago is not an option. I will walk the marathon before I drop out.

Other factors with this injury include shoes and terrain. I recently got a new pair of shoes, but they didn't have the exact pair that I had been using so I changed them up a little bit....DUMB! They even told me it was suggested, but I didn't want to wait or have to come back, so I settled for the closest thing they had. Thanks to a generous return policy though, I was able to exchange them this past Friday and broke them in this morning. They felt great!

As for the terrain, I am a safe runner who always runs against traffic, but when I'm running in the country where the road has more of a crown to it, the road is falling off to my left which means I'm reaching more with my left (injured) leg. It is safe to assume this has contributed to the cause.

Chicago is 6 weeks from today. I think so long as I can get one more good long run in within the next 3 weeks and have a solid taper I will be okay, the struggle now is finding the balance between rest and staying fresh. That will be painful!

July 10, 2011

I just keep Tri ing

Third time is a charm...and boy was it!

Today was the Muncie Ironman Sprint race at PCR. I picked up a bib late in the week and decided to go for it. The excitement of having Ironman in town, combined with Molly being on the Ironman staff now really sucked me in!

Picked up my packet and got body marked on Friday. Attended the athlete briefing, and went out to the race site to check my bike in. Nearly 2000 athletes created a transition area much larger than anything I ever imagined. Friday night we hosted my friend Matt who was doing the 70.3, and Molly's friend Tracey who was helping volunteer. We all tried to go to bed by 10, but with Molly up and gone at 2:30 a.m., I didn't sleep much before my alarm at 4:30!

Arrived at the race site at 5:30 and got set up in transition. Found several acquaintances there to help calm the nerves, and with a quick dip in the water (81 degrees), it was Go time! I was in the first wave of the first race. 6:30 airhorn to a growing crowd and I'm off!

Felt great during the swim, stroked every stroke freestyle, no breast this time, and only got kicked twice. Fought through several drifting bodies to maintain position, and focused on my breathing. When I came out of the water, I looked at my watch....4:59!!!!! but wait....it's not moving....it's stopped! When? For how long? Where was I? No clue! I ran up the hill to T1 and sat down to put socks and my bike shoes on. Lots of bikes still on the rack, so I must be okay..

Once on the bike, I restarted the watch so I could get my bike splits. I went for a drink of my gatorade, only to realize it was still mostly frozen from being in the freezer all night. I do this on purpose so it's ice cold, but apparently it doesn't thaw fast enough at 6:30! I passed two competitors quickly on the bike, and found a good rhythm of around 20 mph. Though I've done this course many times, this was the first time I had rode the bike clockwise around PCR. We usually go the other way, and I suspected this may help me. Only 2 people passed me through mile 6, and I passed 2 others myself. Wasn't sure why a motorcycle was creeping next to me around mile 7, until I realized it was the lead female escort! Yep, there she was, started the swim 5 minutes after me, and caught me roughly 30 minutes into the race...RESPECT! My initial fear when I heard the motorcycle was that it was an official coming to penalize me. I raced hard to pass 2 more on the back half of the course, and no one else passed me prior to the dismount. I had to guess, but I assumed I'd been on the bike around 40 minutes.

Very quick T2, and I was out fast on the run. I knew my friends from the YRC were working the run aid station at mile 1 and 2.2, so I couldn't wait to see them. Ran hard and was not disappointed. They were as loud and excited for me as any pro on the course. I can't explain how much it helped my confidence. I stayed focused on my pace, and couldn't wait to get to the turn around and head back. Once again, they went crazy for me! Because the run is an out and back, I was able to size up where I was, and was impressed by the number of people I was ahead of. Once I got up the dreaded last hill, I could see the crowd which was quite large now as the pros were on the beach ready to start their race for the long course. A nice downhill finish toward the beach area through a 0.2 mile finish chute with people on both sides made me feel like a world champion. Sadly, the finish clock was not on (they were saving it for the long course), and so I still had no idea what my time was...was that a good thing...I think so...

ANOTHER PERSONAL RECORD!! -- 1:20:32
39th out of 123
Swim - 10:04
T1 - 2:37
Bike - 39:09 (18.9 mph)
T2 - 1:40
Run - 27:04 (8:44 pace)

Didn't place in my age group, but very rewarding!

Once I recovered, and changed my clothes it was on to part 2 of my Ironman experience.

Volunteering!

Because Molly was the Director of all Volunteers, and she let me race this morning, I wanted to be sure to give back all I could. Besides that, I'm so inspired by the 70.3 athletes, that I wanted to be a part of the event.

My original assignment was run SAG, which includes driving around in a Gator or pickup truck and picking up athletes who quit on the run course. This may sound crazy, but after 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike, under the near 90 degree sun, many runners are overwhelmed for the half marathon run. Some runners start the first mile and know they can't do it. Others get to the turn around, and are smart enough to listen to their body telling them it is at its limit. Sadly, there were not enough vehicles available for me to help with this because they were needed to transport more ice and supplies to the aid stations and medical.

While taking my bike back to the car, I found myself near the bike in with the pros coming in. I could tell the pedestrian traffic was a problem, so I stationed myself 300 yards off the dismount line, and instructed pedestrians to clear the road as cyclists approached, then as the athlete got to me, I would yell "300 yard", this helps athletes gauge when to come out of their shoes. Most pros, go barefoot all day, and keep their shoes clipped to the bike to save time in transition. I did this for almost an hour until the flow of athletes was steady enough to scare the spectators from attempting to get on the road.

I returned to the athlete food tent to grab some lunch, and got to watch the overall winner finish. Then I was assigned to the crosswalk at the finisher chute. This job was supposed to be to control pedestrian traffic coming and going where it crosses the finisher chute. As it turned out, many of the athletes found their way to me to turn in their chip when they gave up early on the run. Crowd control didn't sound very glamorous to me as I stood there in the hot sun, and faced depressed athletes and angry spectators; but I quickly realized that the real opportunity was that of a cheerleader. I was the LAST volunteer that athletes saw before they finished. My attitude quickly changed to that of a STRONG voice that yelled "Great job, You're here, You made it, Bottom of the Hill, Congratulations!" I repeated these phrases countless times for over 3 hours, and loved every minute of it. Many of the athletes gave me high fives, thumbs up, fist pumps, and of course thank yous! It was also a great point to provide information to uninformed spectators, and to congratulate finishers that after exiting the recovery area, had to come right back by me to get their things out of transition!

The only scare I had was an athlete who got so excited, that as he jumped for joy, he literally cramped right in front of me. The guy was 0.1 miles from the finish, and couldn't walk! The spectators gathered along the chute and offered words of encouragement. I didn't know what to do. I offered my hand and he grabbed it. He leveraged himself off of me and we did a partner calf stretch together while he grabbed his hamstring. When he finally took his first step, the crowd went nuts and he hobbled down the hill to the finish. Several others found incredible strength to sprint the last leg, while others could barely walk to the point they were almost scared to descend down the hill to the finish line.
It was hot, I got a good sunburn, and lost my voice...and it was worth every second!
Great day. Great athletes. Great volunteers. Great event. I am so blessed to have been a part of it, and inspired to consider the 70.3 next year!

July 5, 2011

10k under 9?

Happy Independence Day!

Today, I independently unleashed my freedom to run FAST!

Chesterfield Optimist 10k - entered under the excuse of wanting to compare this race to the one I just organized 2 days earlier (which by the way, ours is better); yet motivated by the performance of many of my friends on the 4 mile course on Saturday. The plan was to go out fast, and just try to hold on. Mile 1 - 8:40, somewhere around 1.5, Pete said, "it's all you" and I pulled away; Mile 2 - 8:40. Mile 3 - 8:58. Mile 4 - 9:11, Mile 5 - 9:03, and Mile 6 - 9:06, and that's when Amy Fletcher caught me. I'd never beaten her, and today was my chance. She pushed me the last 0.2 where I sprinted ahead to finish in 55:32, an 8:53 pace!
Age group award winner!

Proving once again...anything is possible!

June 25, 2011

I never knew I could TRI like this!

Sorry for the late blog post, but life has been a little busy.
June 11 marked the date of my redemption triathlon at Prairie Creek Reservoir with Muncie Multisport. For those of you that are new to my blog, Check out the post from last September that ends with me in the hospital....NOT THIS TIME!

Molly was out of town working Ironman Kansas 70.3 so the sitter was here at 6:15, and I was well on my way with no fear. No problems getting setup and settled in. Maybe just a little nervous as I realized the air temperature was cooler than the water temp, but blocked it out easily. Good crowd and lots of people I knew!

The swim was redirected to swim left to right with the wind/current, and once in the water I appreciated it. The swim felt so easy and I was able to get a rhythm without stopping to change strokes and without kicking or getting kicked by others. I was out of the water and running to T1 in 7:18. Couple minutes in transition and I was on the bike.

I again got into a very good rhythm, and felt so strong, I got into a couple unnecessary sprint duals on Inlow Springs, but once I got to the hills reality set in. I was very cautious with my gear selections as I had lost a chain in this part of the course last year. No problems this year, once I was on the last straight I gave all I had and had my best bike split ever at 40:52.

T2 was not bad either and once out on the run I found a very steady pace with only one hill that brought me to a brief walk. But I pushed through it all and finished the 5k run in 31:22 for a total finish time of 1:24:16. This is over 21 minutes faster than my last attempt 9 months ago. Truly remarkable for me.

No placings or awards, but for me this was as good as it gets! Only thing better would have been for Molly and the kids to have been there with me!

May 22, 2011

Geist Half Marathon race recap

How did I get here. Well Pete drove me, but that's not the point!

Just to recap, Molly could not compete in the Indy Mini because she had a wedding to attend in Arizona. Instead, she chose to compete with her friend Tracey in the Geist Half Marathon. 4 weeks ago, Molly asks me if I will race with her so that I can keep her motivated during the race, and help pace her to complete her first half marathon. How can I say no to that? So, I sign up.

With about 10 days to go before race day, and after fighting a lingering case of plantar fasciitis, her doctor tells her...no race for you! WHAT? So now the decision is do I want to pace Tracey? Do I want to run with Pete and Amy? Or do I want to race it for myself and try to improve my time from the Indy Mini...Wasn't much to think about - I'm racing!

Race prep went well. Race morning was comfortable. Pete and Amy picked me up, and we took Tracey also. Once at the nearby school, we met up with my college roommate, Scott, who had bought Molly's entry. A short walk to the start line, and it's go time!

Star Spangled Banner featured a flyover, and a pumped up crowd had me juiced up and ready show this course what I'm made of! The starting corrals are set up on a downhill near a bridge. This should have been a clear sign of things to come. HILLS!

The first 7 miles seemed effortless to me. The hills were very manageable and the scenery of the reservoir was incredible. Beautiful homes. Great landscaping. Supportive families. An overall great experience. My plan was to lay back on an easy pace of 10:20-10:30, and see if I could run deeper into the miles to finish at better than a 10:45 pace and get in under 2:20.

First 7 miles clocked on the Garmin at 10:09, 10:08, 9:58, 10:18, 10:28, 10:13, 10:09. I felt so good at this point. I thought I was in control of this race! But then...HILLS!

I had reviewed the elevation chart prior to the race, and knew of the severe hill around mile 7.5, but I had no idea how big it may have been until I saw it with my own eyes. As you round the corner off of Fall Creek Rd, and onto 79th Street, there it is. Standing larger than life. I think I heard it laughing at me. Mocking me even. Daring me to try to keep that pace. I wasn't going to back down. I ran into and up this hill with everything I had. I'm guessing I made it more than 3/4 of the way up the hill before my legs gave in to the incline. I finally took my first walking steps.

As I got to the top of Geist mountain, I started jogging again, and managed to keep mile 8 at a respectable 10:43.

Many more rolling hills were to follow, and I quickly realized the toll that this hill had taken on my body. My plan became to run all the downhills, and the flat bottoms to a point where the next uphill seemed to begin, then I would walk the uphills. This obviously damages the average and mile 9 ended at 11:10

For miles 10 and 11 I found a good rhythm of running and walking. When I could run, I found myself on pace between 10:30 and 10:40, but walking the uphills were often as slow as 14:00. These two miles were nearly identical at 12:08 and 12:06

So here I am with 2.1 miles remaining. My Garmin was measuring the course long, and so it was actually about 2.2 miles. Even if I could run a 10 minute pace all the way in, that would take 22 minutes. I had only 24 minutes left to play with in order to beat my mini time. Quick math, I've got to do roughly an 11 minute pace. I've been doing 12s, so I've got to run more and walk less now. This psychology almost worked against me as every time I tried to run, I began to cramp more. I wasn't necessarily dehydrated, but everything hurt. The hills had broken my body down much more than my training had ever prepared me for. Mile 12 ended up being my worst mile of the race. I could not find a rhythm and fell to a 13:05 mile.

Embarrassed by the split that just flashed on my watch, and accepting of the fact that I could not run the last 1.2 at a 10 minute pace to beat my mini time, I pushed through the 13th mile. I got myself back to my mile 10 pace of 12:08, and as predicted had 0.2 miles remaining.

I refused to stop at this point. A nice downhill finish bring a repeated section of the course into view over a lengthy bridge into a well populated finish area. I ran the last 0.2 with everything I had left which was a 10 minute pace, taking 2 minutes, and giving me a finish time of 2:24:51.

The time is EXACTLY 3 minutes slower than the mini, but factoring in the heat (over 70 at the finish), and of course THE HILLS, I am not disappointed.

I enjoyed trying a new course. It was challenging and kept my interest, but this course was much more difficult than I ever imagined. It was great to share the experience with friends. Pete helped Amy to her best finish of 2:31, and Tracey completed her first half in 2:56. Scott ran a great 2:07 and 3,000 others are writing their blogs today as well.

Next up is a Sprint Triathlon on June 11. That race is for redemption on my first Tri experience last September. Beating my previous time will be the first reward. But not going to the ER will be the real victory!

May 15, 2011

10k Champion! That's me!

Muncie MultiSport hosted the first tri/du race of the season this weekend, and I wasn't quite ready for a tri this year yet, so I thought I'd stick with what was working. 5k didn't seem long enough, so I opted for the 10k. Apparently, there were very few thinking along the same lines, because

I WAS THE OVERALL WINNER OF THE 10K!
Don't get me wrong, I ran my ass off for this! Another PR at 58:40, had me a full minute ahead of the closest competitor! But truth be told, there were only 7 of us competing in this event! Hey, a win is a win, and that's 2 wins in 2 weeks for those of you that are counting!

May 7, 2011

Mini Marathon 2011

IT'S A NEW TRACK RECORD!

Do I really need to say anything else? Okay, let me start from the beginning.

YRC members converged on YMS parking lot at 5:15 a.m., I think we had 14 cars in a caravan going down! I got to run shotgun with the Prez, Ted Johnson (felt like secret service). We got parked with about 30 minutes to spare. Hit the bathroom at the nearest hotel (sure beats the port-a-pots), and headed to the start line...well sort of...

I was scheduled for Corral P based on my "expected finish time", and what I've decided is too many people over estimate their finish times! More on that later. I met up with my training partner, Pete Olson, and my college roommate Scott Fultz, who was fighting a knee injury. Another friend Janelle Schnake met up with us too. The atmosphere honestly was not quite as hype as I remember it from years ago, but either way, 3, 2, 1, GO....or wait...It took 21 minutes for us to get to the start line. As I neared the timing mat, I did get pretty excited!

Mile 1 - I still can't believe how congested it was. The battle of the first mile, was to zig zag in and out of, between and through, all those people that have faster "expected finish times" than I do. Are you kidding me? There are people walking all over the place in the first mile! Pete led us onto the sidewalks, and other than dodging the occasional garage band, that did help some. Across the bridge, I caught a glimpse of an elephant at the zoo out of the corner of my eye, and felt great. Scott and Janelle were chasing me through the masses, and my Garmin clicked off 1 mile just about 20 feet before the sign. I hit mile 1 in 9:58. I wish it was a little faster, but for all the dodging we had to do, I was happy to keep it under 10.

Mile 2 - The turn onto White River Pkwy has a slight incline to it, but again felt great. This was really the first time I noticed what song was playing on my ipod. I was able to settle into my pace a little better, but kept running into a wall of people that I'd have to pause for, and then accelerate through when a gap would open. We turned onto Michigan headed West, and I was still hanging pretty close to Pete, but could tell he was moving out quicker than I. Scott seemed very comfortable, and I hit mile 2 in 9:41. This was the fastest mile of the race for me, but I didn't think I was too fast.

Mile 3 - Michigan is a long stretch with plenty of "interesting dwellings", but I stayed focused on my pace, checking the watch every other minute. I did look up in time to see one of my favorite signs. A huge sign with the letters W T F ? on it, as I got closer I could see it said, WHERE'S THE FINISH? underneath! Awesome! Made me laugh out loud. Saw lots of great shirts with funny sayings all day, but sadly can't remember half of them! Also lots of Firefighters in full gear. Bravo! Mile 3 finished in 9:53, exactly as planned!

Mile 4 - Turned North on Holt and just before you hit mile 4 you can see runners coming at you that are nearing mile 10. This does kind of make you shake your head, but remember they did have a 21 minute head start on me! :) There is a large concrete median here that you have to jump up, on and over a couple times if you get squeezed out, but still feeling good I did Mile 4 in 9:48. Awesome!

Mile 5 - We head West again on 10th street, past Allison Transmission, and there's lots of open areas. I did witness a young lady running next to me yell "DAD!", and watched her sprint toward the sidewalk to embrace a man in full military gear. Something about it made me a little emotional, I suppose it was nothing, but I sort of wrote my own script in my mind for the moment. I took my first Powerbar Gel around 4.5 in keeping with my every 45 minutes plan. Finished Mile 5 in 9:55 which makes my 5 mile time 49:16. This is EXACTLY where I wanted to be!

Mile 6 - We are on Main Street now which has lots of Indy Car Team Headquarters. It's fun to read the names on the buildings. Then we turn onto 16th street, and head toward the entrance to the track. To get into the track, you have to go under it, so that means a nice big downhill....followed by a just as big uphill! Ouch! Pushed all the way through it. I could see Pete at the top of the hill as I was at the bottom, so I knew he wasn't pulling away too quick. Scott and Janelle were right there with me. In fact, Scott pulls out his phone and "checks-in" at the Track (and tagged me)! I crossed mile 6 in 10:17. Uh Oh, that's not good, somebody might be getting tired!

Mile 7 - As we cross the 10k point, Janelle asked me what our time was and it was almost exactly 1:02, exactly a 10 minute pace. At this point, I sensed my dream goal of 2:11 (10 min pace) was a long shot. The track was as crowded as anything as you go through the turns. They don't want you on the grass or the track, you must stay on the warmup lanes. The music was pumping pretty good, and they has some sweet cars sat out on the track. Mile 7 was 10:10. Shoot, I thought I had picked it back up, apparently not enough.

Mile 8 - Janelle officially passed me, and after Scott took a picture looking down the main straight, I could tell he was feeling good, and he went with her. I started doing the math in my head, and trying to figure out what I could get away with for a 2:15 finish. Perked up for the photo at the yard of bricks, and stuck with it all the way down the front stretch, but Mile 8 showed up at 10:34.

Mile 9 - I stayed running through the exit of the track and came upon another emotional moment. A 50 something year old father walking between his two daughters. The daughters had a shirt that said "DAD" at the top with arrows pointing -> and <- toward dad, then under it read, "8 months ago, open heart surgery - today, running 13.1 miles!" I actually teared up thinking THAT IS WHY I'M DOING THIS! I want to stay healthy for my family, and how great would it be someday to run between my two daughters in an event like this! As motivating as that was, the rain began to pour and as we climbed a small incline back onto 16th street, I took my first walking steps. That mile showed 11:23, and I knew the next 4 were not going to be easy.

Mile 10 - I grabbed my second Powerbar Gel (almost forgot about it), just to try and sustain my muscles through the remainder. Some windy short roads, lead back to 10th street, and I continue playing this game in my head of how much can I walk. Ultimately, I ended up alternating running and walking every 1/4 mile. The rain really picked up and I found myself getting very cold. I thought back to my incident at the triathlon last fall, and decided I had to listen to my body. I could feel fluids sloshing in my stomach, which I have read is an early sign of dehydration (most people think the opposite), so I was sure to walk through each water and Gatorade stop and take a good full drink. Mile 10 ended up 12:12 which made the total time 1:44:42, which is 4:42 over that 10 minute goal pace, which also means 2:15 is out of the question now. Now I start thinking, what will it take to get 2:20. Then it hit me. IDIOT! Enjoy the moment. My previous PR was 2:33:42, and that was 10 years ago! Having gained and lost 90 pounds since then, this was my comeback, and I would certainly beat that time! Just keep moving!

Mile 11 - Still on 10th street for another long stretch, and I continue with my run/walk alternating plan, and it seems to be working well. As I started my running moments again, I would pick someone to run behind and just stay there, as opposed to all the jockeying for position I had done earlier. Made an extra effort to say thank you to officers blocking the roads and volunteers passing out water. Traded smiles with the entertainers along the route, and just enjoyed myself. This mile showed 12:15, almost identical to the last mile, so I was good with this run/walk plan.

Mile 12 - Finally getting off 10th street, and back onto White River Parkway, you can see the bridge ahead that will get you to that last mile, but before I get there, I spy a bright yellow YRC shirt just ahead. Is that Pete? Nope. It was Brad Wilson. I don't know Brad, but have seen him around on some of our runs, and we rode down together with Ted. He was walking so I ran to him just as he started to run again, grabbed him, and he said his ankle was quite sore. We ran together a short distance and both agreed to walk again at the same time. My walk pace was quicker than his, so I left him. Mile 12 was my slowest at 12:22, but still very consistent with the last two.

Mile 13 - As you turn onto New York Street, and begin to cross the bridge, pride sets in. The crowd gets thicker, and you can sense it all coming together. I began to try to stretch out the running portions, and walk a little less. The signs along this last mile, are almost torture. 3/4 mile to go; 1/2 mile to go; 1/4 mile to go. Come on! Those 1/4 miles are taking me almost 3 minutes at this pace. I picked out a Yellow shirt some 100 yards ahead of me, and made him my target. You can bet, it was all I had to catch him, but I did, no more walking now! Mile 13 was a tick better at 11:40

FINISH - 13.1 is the official distance, but with all the weaving early on, my Garmin ended up measuring 13.18. So for that last .18, I gave everything I had left. My heart rate monitor peaked out at 198 bpm at this point, with my average being 195 bpm. I could not have been running faster. My average pace for the last .18 was 8:56 which after 13 miles was fast! Arms raised! FINISHED!

Final time was 2:21:51, another PR. Garmin shows my average HR was 175 bpm, and I burned 2421 calories! Finished in 15600th place out of over 30636. And 9435th among the 14254 men! 1584th of 2160 men 35-39.

DONE! - I was shaking, cold, wet, tired, exhausted, and it must have shown. An EMT walked over to me and asked if I was okay. I told him I was cold, but thought I was fine. I walked slowly to get my medal, water, Gatorade, granola bars, bananas, cookies, and finally to get my picture taken. Exited into Military Park, and headed to the Friends of the Muncie Endurathon tent.

POST RACE PARTY - As soon as I was in sight, there was a unison "Chris!" It feels so awesome to be part of a group and to wear the shirt. YRC creates a fraternity of sorts that respects all runners of all abilities and that's what makes it perfect for me. There were plenty of war stories to go around as we feasted on the food and drink there. Never did see Scott or Janelle again, but Pete found us, and I couldn't wait to give him a hug! He finished 2:14, just 7 minutes ahead of me and only 3 minutes off our initial goal time. All he could do was smile, and say, that was all I could do. I know how he felt! There were plenty of PRs to go around today, many breaking 2 hours, and some even under 1:30. I can't imagine. The best part for me was talking to all the first timers. Many of which had impressive times, but I love hearing them tell of their experiences.

WHAT'S NEXT? - I will rest tomorrow (promised myself), but next week, I'm in the pool and on the bike to prepare for a Sprint Tri in June. In the meantime, I plan to race a 10k next weekend, and pace Molly through the Geist Half Marathon in 2 weeks. Then starting in July, the early training stages for the Chicago Marathon begin!

See you on the road...