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...