Friday, May 29, 2015

All Star - Cincinnati Flying Pig

So much to do, so much to see
So what's wrong with running the back streets?
You'll never know if you don't go
You'll never shine if you don't glow

Hey, now, you're an All Star get your game on, go run
Hey, now, you're a Rock Star get the show on, go run 
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold

Smash Mouth

Ironically, Smash Mouth was the headliner for the Raleigh Rock n Roll Marathon a few weeks earlier.  Of course, the headliners appear mostly for the half-marathoners since these Competitor events are staged for half-marathoners and marathoners are a second act.  By the time I get to the finish line, the clean-up act is on stage.  I'm not discounting half-marathoners as I love the distance but Competitor group could somehow plan it differently. Yes, maybe I should just run a little faster! However, the song goes directly with the theme of the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon this year - All Star - since Major League Baseball's All Star game is being played there this year.

It was another fine weekend in Cincinnati with Bree, Jaxon, Korey and me running races.  Some year, ALL of us are going to run one of the myriad of races - 5K, 10K, Piglets, half marathon, full marathon, flying fur.  This was Bree's second Piglet's run receiving her second medal.  Jaxon and Korey were both All Star's too with Korey being the All Star of his group running away from all the other kids.  Jaxon had a bad patch in the middle of the run but pulled himself up and finished strong.  Bree was her swift self running to the finish and beyond.  She's competitive and wants to run farther and faster than the other kids.

At some point in our running life, our goal as runners is to be a Bree or Korey - to run faster and farther - outpace the competition.  Its this way in life too.  Korey has been an underdog since birth but on this day he was a real runner, even if his motivation was to get away from the other kids.  As runners, we all use different motivating factors.  But the real lesson in running and life is evidenced by Jaxon.  Sometimes you just don't want to do something, sometimes you hit a bad patch and fall down, sometimes you don't want to go for a run and sometimes you just need a little help from a friend.  How many times have we been there?

Korey ran with Grandma as they streaked the 25 yards from start to finish being awarded his first running medal at age 21 months.  Although I had received many ribbons for my running in high school track - 100, 200 meters and relays - my first real medal is from the 1994 NYC Marathon at age 34.  I didn't even know running was a sport until I got to high school let alone organized community races.  Jaxon blazed new territory with his Mom, Becky. Although, he had mid-race challenges, with a little help, he picked himself up and ran through to the finish earning his medal.  We all go through bad patches in runs, particularly marathons.  It is important to recognize it, persevere, lean on faith and friends,  know it will pass, and finish the race that God has put before us. Hmmm, sounds a bit like life?  Bree ran with me for the second year in a row.  I figured I would be 70 when she is old enough to run the marathon, 64 to run the half and 62 to run the 10K and any age to run the 5K.  It would be great to continue this tradition as Bree, Korey and Jaxon bloom as runners.  Bree was tired at the start (as was I) standing in the hot sun waiting to run.  But when it was time, she did her best like the All Star she is.  So many times, we feel tired at the start (of anything really) and then become energized as we do it.  It is the same for running.  Of course, a race would not be complete without fans cheering us on - Dad Charlie and Granddad Kevin were there cheering every step!

For me, the Flying Pig Marathon went well, not as good time-wise as last year but still a decent run in 4:25.  It is a true party in Cincinnati throughout the course with few exceptions.  Tailgating on front lawns, impromptu beer stops (yes, I had some at mile 14), jammed streets with fans downtown, cheer and charity groups and more music than the Rock n Roll events.  Its also a weekend party with many organized events - even the dogs get involved!

So, I will run it until I can't and hope to do some of the other races with the family but ultimately would love to run the marathon with Bree, Jaxon or Korey!

Farther and Faster
 
With a little time to rest at the end
 

Twin All Stars - bibs can be used as real bibs!
On your Mark, Set, Go!

Jaxon hitting his bad patch and Korey striving forward!
 
All done!
 
 
Flying Fur participant
 
Admiring her achievement
 
Always have to encourage other runners - 5K
 
 
Its been a long day!



 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In the Moment - In a Moment

I remember when I first thought of calling this blog In The Moment Running.  I was on a trail at Manasquan reservoir in NJ.  The serenity of trails at Manasqan, around a beautiful body of water and through an abundance of lush trees, was the epitome of relaxation while running.  The bridle trail twisted and turned around the 5 mile perimeter of the reservoir but was mostly smooth and non-technical.  However, one day, I found some side trails - single path trails that had some roots and stumps.  In trail terms still not very technical but if you didn't stay focused, in the moment, if you will, you could certainly fall or sprain an ankle.  I thought about how different trail running was to road running.  I then wrote a blog post about it and started this blog.

On April 4, 2015, it happened In a Moment.  My nephew Todd Doub was out running with his family at a track in Martinsburg, WV.  His son's track season was starting and in support of his son thought it would be a good idea for the family (Sharon, Skylar and Cameron) to enjoy an outing at the track.  While running, Todd had, what is believed to have been, a brain aneurysm, collapsed and later died on Easter Sunday April 5.  In a Moment he was gone. In one second, he was enjoying time with his family and in the very next, he was gone, never to regain consciousness in this earthly world. I was in Asheville enjoying time with Cindy's son and his wife when I got the texts and call.  It was hard to process because I could not fathom that a healthy 49 year-old with a beautiful family and bright future, my sister's son, my nephew, a family member, a person rich in friends and God had left this world.

The ensuing Celebration of Life was one of the most heartfelt that I had ever experienced, a life truly lived and loved, not without challenges and trials, but an examined life in servitude to others.  Our last long conversation was based on an examination of his priorities.  Too often, we plod through life never examining a single thing about our own lives.  Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living".  It is a bold, unequivocal statement.    Socrates' method of self-examination included an essential element that became known as "Socratic" dialogue. Dialoguing with a close friend, a spouse, a skilled psychotherapist or spiritual adviser helps reveal those blind spots we cannot see by ourselves. Santayana observed, "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."  Todd called me when examining his life, certainly a life worth living, as he was trying to balance the priorities of life; God, family, friends and career.  I can't convey in this short post how celebrated his life was during this day, but in 3 hours, he lived again and will continue to touch others' lives whether they realize it or not.  In his faith he is now seated with the Lord Jesus looking down upon us helping us examine our lives.

I celebrated Todd's life while running a marathon.  I was already registered for the Raleigh Rock n Roll marathon taking place just two days after his Celebration of Life.  In the many marathons I have run, I often saw tributes and memorials pinned to the shirts of runners.  Todd's memorial verse is one that I have had on my desktop for years.
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV
So, I pinned his memorial on the back of my shirt and in big letters wrote his name, TODD, on the front with his date of passing underneath and over my bib.  




I wondered when I would hear his name called out for the very first time.  It was about 7-8 miles into the marathon on the first difficult hill (there were many) that I heard "go Todd!"  It was surreal because just when I needed a boost to get up that hill, it seemed like he was there.  I could just hear him, "get your butt up that hill!"  His name was called out another 5 times just on that hill alone.  The course highlights Raleigh, running through downtown, nice residential neighborhoods, Hillsborough street past the NC State Bell Tower, Meredith College, NC State campus, Johnson lake and the green way trails.  As the miles rolled by, I started hearing his name more.  Of course, encouragement is always welcomed in the later miles of a marathon.  One woman must have seen the date under his name, she called out, "Way to run for Todd!"   The final stretch to the finish was a lot of "Yay Todd's and high fives. 






There is a lot of time to think while running a marathon but in this marathon my thoughts were focused on those that had been lost early in life, Todd particularly, but is was also 35 years to the day of the marathon since losing my Dad at the age of 60 to cancer; a good high school friend at age 50; another high school friend just earlier in the same week Todd passed at age 53. Both friends from heart attacks.

Some people think that running is about extending life but in reality it is about living life up to that very moment, where, in a moment, you are gone.  Todd lived his life up to that very moment.  He examined, he adjusted, he lived and now he continues to live in us by the example he set.  Nobody is perfect but we can all learn from others who have examined their lives as we examine ours.

Truly, rest in peace all of those who we have lost and will see again.
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26

All glory and honor is Yours


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Freedom's Song - Rock n Roll DC

As we were wandering around Washington DC and then subsequently running around the city, I thought of the many freedoms we have as Americans to enjoy our spectacular country.  And, the many battles fought here and afar in its 240 years of independence to protect and preserve those freedoms.  We cannot allow those freedoms to be compromised by political or social pressures or by threats and actions of cowardly, hostile groups.  We as Americans should take hold of our country, preserve and protect it, see it, enjoy it, and love it as we need to love one another.

Finishing the states this year, running a marathon in each, I felt would not be complete without running in Washington DC.  As much as the political environment in this country disgusts me (although I would not live anywhere else), Washington DC is the epicenter of our country's rich democratic society and model democracy for all of the world.

Growing up just 70 miles from Washington in Hagerstown, MD, in all my 55 years, I had never really visited as a tourist.  I've been there for a couple of conferences, ran around the mall from the Lincoln memorial to the Capitol but that is about it.  We still didn't have a lot of time to be tourists this time but Cindy and I, together, did our best.  And, of course, I had to run 26.2 miles as well.

The Competitor group that stages the Rock n Roll Series, generally stages events that have poor logistics, separating start line, expo and finish line far enough apart to be annoying.  Understandably, large running events are held for the runners but I think every event needs to take into consideration the people who come to support the runners.  Its not always the case.

I selected the Courtyard Marriott on F and 9th since it was about half-way between the convention center and the starting line.  It was a good selection and Courtyard is my favorite hotel chains because they are so consistent in their properties.  The Expo was a typical Rock n Roll Expo with overpriced branded merchandise and big name sponsors.  Actually, I thank the sponsors because without them, many of these events would not exist.  Packet pick-up was easy and organized and the shirts were simple and nice. presented by Brooks.  On our way we ate at the City Tap House.

So, the previous Saturday night into Sunday, I was deathly ill with the 24 hour flu, Rotavirus.  I can't remember the last time I had the flu and can never remember being that sick.  I also had a long day to Columbus on Tuesday for a meeting.  Needless to say, I was concerned about running on Saturday.  My appetite waned all week, I got dehydrated when I was sick and to top it off it was supposed to rain.

The City Tap House is a gastro pub and had some interesting food.  Since they are a tap house, I felt obligated to have a pint.  My appetite was coming back so I had a Cuban sandwich and a few wings, split with Cindy.  After the Expo, we needed to find the Metro because, truly the only way for Cindy to get tot he finish line at RFK stadium or for me to get back to the hotel after finishing was to take the Metro.  The Metro? Really?

The Metro is relatively easy to use in DC.  We went to the Federal Triangle station to pre-purchase tickets for Cindy's trip to the finish.  Buying a ticket was a challenge and it has to be exact fare between the two stops.  It is not like NYC or Paris where you pay one fare and ride anywhere,  So, here is my question, why put the finish way over by RFK stadium?  I am sure that it was a permitting requirement for a few reasons: 1) with 25,000 runners and their guests, it would be a boon to the Metro's bottom line 2) there is ample room at RFK for everyone 3) it is far enough away from downtown that if another Boston happened, it would be away from the core city.  I suspect that reasons 1 and 3 were the most likely because there have been millions on the mall with all kinds of events with ample room.  But, it would have been nice to start and finish near the mall on Constitution avenue. Cindy said that the Metro also had an issue and the trains had to run on one track which backed up people getting on.  She also said that when she arrived at RFK, the line to return (the half-marathoners) was so long it wrapped around the block.  Yes, let's jam 25,000 people on trains with a reduced number of cars.

After the Metro we walked the mall to the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, along the empty wading pool to the Lincoln Memorial.  One thing I noticed was that most visitors were foreign but I thought, "we Americans need to get out and see our own country more."  We then head back to the hotel by walking past the White House on Pennsylvania ave.  This was the first time I had seen the White House live.

Race Day

Sure enough, I woke to cold rain and even contemplated not running.  What kind of runner would I be if I didn't run because of rain?  Rain is actually not bad for marathons where the weather is a bit warmer as it has a cooling effect.  But rain in the low 40's is not that pleasant.  At least it was light but consistent enough that I would be wet relatively quickly.

We ventured to the starting area which was going to be a wave start.  I was in corral 15 out of 32.  Runners were everywhere.  Porta-potties were plentiful on 12th street, which is around where my corral started.  Miami's corral start was awful and I was expecting the same.  Truly, it was done well with 1 minute in between corrals.  Constitution avenue is wide as well so running at the start was not a problem.

The rain pretty much stayed with us throughout the run.  There were more people on the streets than expected and volunteers were plentiful despite the rain.  Event he bands played on.  The course reminds me of the Baltimore course except it never comes back to the core of downtown.  It goes close to the National Zoo and through some pretty interesting neighborhoods.  The first half was definitely more scenic than the second half.  It felt very industrial in the second half.  I shared a Gu with a woman from China and ran a bit as we chatted with a woman from NJ about their first marathon.  At miles 23-25, there are some significant climbs.  I started to cramp at mile 24 while climbing and never really ran out of the cramp until the end.  My pace dropped off and would never recover.  The finish line awaited in a big parking lot which sort of looked empty due to the rain.  It wasn't but I am sure it would have been much more crowded and bands would have played longer if it wasn't raining.  I saw my girl, Cynthia, and I ran to her waving an American flag.  It is the best feeling to see her there at the finish especially knowing what she had to do to get there spending the time waiting.

Just like the day before, it was a day packed full of Washington DC.  We went to the Crime museum and did a CSI workshop, had dinner and then went to Ford's Theater to see Freedom's Song a musical written using Lincoln's words through years of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.  It was an emotional experience sitting across from where Lincoln was shot and watching this drama.

In spite of the rain, it was a really good weekend and besides running we packed a lot into 48 hours.

Pictures


Expo fitting room

Expo

On the mall

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial with DC Police

Lincoln Memorial

Looking to Capitol from Lincoln

Executive offices


My first visit tot he White House


House where Lincoln died across from Ford's Theater

Race morning

Love this black and white

Helping the corral captain

Finish - time for chocolate milk

CSI workshop at Crime Museum

Inside Ford's Theatre - flags is where Lincoln was shot

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marathon Drool - Myrtle Beach Marathon

When he gets excited or anticipates something my dog drools to a point where it is hanging from his jowls. He naturally does it when there is food around but also when he anticipates going out for a walk or run.  I felt the same one day while I was driving to Chick-fil-A for lunch anticipating the taste of the spicy chicken deluxe sandwich.  I thought of him and realized its in all of us, but we humans can mostly control it.

But, is it possible for someone to drool at the thought of running 26.2 miles?  Yes, and that's the feeling I had after I had registered for the Myrtle Beach Marathon just a week before the event.  It had been since October 18th that I had run a marathon after running 8 in 2014.  After a bunch of skin procedures late in the year and a lot of travel in December, it had been difficult even getting to do basic runs.  My first planned marathon in 2015 was Rock n Roll DC in March.  After a good month of training in January, I felt like I needed a marathon as a supported training run. 

I had been considering heading back to Myrtle Beach to run the only marathon that I have attempted to run that got cancelled.  Back in 2010, there was a freak 37-year snowfall of 2-3 inches in Myrtle Beach.  After all the runners had arrived, had gone to the expo and carb-loaded (with Kevin Abraszek), the race was cancelled late the night before.  Myrtle Beach was going to be my 49th marathon setting up New Orleans just two weeks later to be my 50th marathon on my 50th birthday where Competitor Group had given me bib number 50 to celebrate.  In New Orleans, I was also going to run with my nephew, Shawn Doub.  So, what do marathoners do when the race is cancelled?  We sit around in the bar looking for another marathon to run the following week.  Keven, Diane Bolton (now a Maniac Hall of Famer) and me, had our laptops looking at calendars while we had a couple of pints.  For me, I needed to get that 49th so New Orleans could be number 50 and the only way to do it was to run the following weekend somewhere, but where and with lodging and registrations sometimes tricky to find, would I even be able to get into a race, not to mention the cost?  I set my sights on A1A in Fort Lauderdale.  Surely there would be no snow there!  The following morning, with the roads barely slushy, Kevin and I went out for a 10-miler while some runners went ahead and did the entire course.

Fort Lauderdale turned out to be a great choice and was Cindy's first experience at a marathon and with me.  It was a great weekend at the beach, I ran well and was able to get in my 49th marathon.  Next up was number 50 in New Orleans but not without its drama.  A blizzard hit NJ and after flight cancellations and paying top dollar for changed flights, stressful drives to Philadelphia by both Shawn coming from MD and me from NJ, we made it to New Orleans for a grand birthday celebration marathon.

So, back to this year.  Once I signed up I felt that anticipation and the subsequent marathon drool.  Marathon weekends are great.  It is an escape from the daily routine, being somewhere new with Cindy, the expo, being at the starting line with thousands of others, the crowds of people cheering (OK, not always, but at many events), and the 42,000 steps taken to get to the finish line.  There was a noticeable difference in my demeanor and focus at the thought of running 26.2 miles in a eek.

Until Sunday, February 8, all of my runs since the beginning of the year had been decent.  I had been on the hills and flats alike with good pace.  Then, on that Sunday prior to the Myrtle beach marathon, on a 6 mile tempo run, I felt a twinge or soreness in my right hamstring, more around the tendon.  It slowed me to a crawl for the last 2 miles.  I took a couple of days off and tried to venture out on the Wednesday before Myrtle but from the very first step I could feel the pain in the tendon.  I struggled with a mile an a half.  The drool and anticipation  was gone and left me wondering if I would be able to start the marathon let alone finish.  In 83 marathons, I have never had a DNF and the only DNS was the Myrtle Beach marathon in 2010 due to cancellation.  So, I figured that I would rest it the remainder of the week and see what marathon morning brings.

It is hard for runners not to run leading up to an event and many hate the tapering.  This wasn't a tapering kind of thing since the marathon was going to be a supported long run.  However, I have found that times where I couldn't run the week before a marathon has always produced a decent marathon.  I just kept faith and let God guide me through that day as I do everyday.

The weekend weather in Myrtle Beach was going to be beautiful although marathon Saturday was going to be bookended by two cold days, but no snow in the forecast.  It was likely that marathon day was going to be in the upper 20's at the start and in the 40's at the finish but a day filled with sunshine.

We arrived at the Expo at the Myrtle Beach convention center around 4 after a pleasant drive from Durham.  If you have never been to Myrtle beach, the summer can be as congested as a big city.  To me, all beach towns are better in the off-season.  Upon arrival at the Expo, we had to pay $3 for parking which, to me, is absurd.  Seriously? The Expo was well-organized and of medium size.  It had all the amenities needed for a runner.  One thing we found fascinating was the organization Canine Angels Service Dogs, an organization that saves dogs and serves vets.  The dogs are trained to take paper money from your hands and put it into buckets, the proceeds going to help veterans.  We must have given $30 just to watch the dogs take it (and of course because it was a good cause.)

We stayed at the Breakers Resort which was on of the host hotels.  Little did we know that the resort is made up of a series of hotels.  It said on the race site that it was 1 mile from the start/finish.  I always look at the logistics of the start/finish for Cindy.  Well, the hotel that we stayed in, north of the main resort, was about 1.6 miles away from the start/finish.  We registered one place and then had to drive to another.  The lobby was under construction, dark with an electrician in the ceiling.  We're thinking maybe this wasn't such a good place to stay.  Our room did overlook he ocean from the 17th floor and it was right on the beach, but the room itself had a lot to be desired and the beds were awful.  But, it was at the 13 mile mark on the course so I know that I could see Cindy half way.  I always look forward to seeing her on the course.

I drove to the starting line at Broadway on the Beach.  There was a lot of free parking and probably the most port-o-potties I have ever seen at a marathon.  It was cold in the mid-20's.  I wore shorts, calf sleeves, 2 long sleeve shirts and a short sleeved one. My dress would prove to be perfect for the conditions.  Of course, I was still concerned about my hamstring.  I could even feel it walking during the week so I was pretty concerned about running.

The marathon had an early start, 6:30 AM.  The cannon sounded right on time.  It always takes 5 or so miles to warm up.  With not knowing how my hamstring was going to respond and with the cold weather, I started our slower than normal at a 10:15 pace.  I really didn't have any expectations of time although I told Cindy that if everything sent well, I should be back in 4:30.  Even from the first few steps I could felt he tightness and some pain around the tendon of my hamstring.  I knew that this was going to be a flat course so at least I would not have to overwork it on hills.  I kept the pace consistent for the first few miles while watching the sky get brighter.  My stride was shortened and I suspect my gait slightly off kilter but I kept trudging along.  I hadn't felt the piercing pain that I felt the week before because that pain might have kept me from finishing.  At about mile 6, I felt like it had loosened up to the point where I could increase my pace.  Looking at my watch, there were some splits between 9:40 and 9:55 for the next several miles (except for a short pee break in the bushes.) 

There is a long stretch on Ocean avenue from miles 8 through 18.  In between the hotels, you could see the sun rising above the ocean.  There were more people out and about cheering and I finally found a good rhythm.  I still wanted to manage the hamstring issue because I could tell it was going to be with me throughout.  I also knew that I would be seeing Cindy soon which kept me going to the half way point.  The half-marathoners dropped off at about mile 11 so it was just us marathoners and relay runners now.  By mile 12 I was feeling pretty confident in my pace.  Before the race, I thought that if I did need to drop out due to injury, I could do it at the hotel.  Oddly, enough, I was feeling like I was managing this marathon better than most I had run last year.  I was not 100% but at Bataan, in New Mexico, I was not 100% and also ran a well-managed marathon.  So, maybe that is the secret sauce.  I manage things better when challenged at less than 100%.

Finally, I see Cindy in her bright red windbreaker.  She always puts a smile on my face.  I always stop for a kiss and hug and today was no exception.  I told her that I was feeling pretty good and I thought that I could make it to the finish around my projected time of 4:30.  I would be half way around 2:12.  She would need to walk 1.6 miles to the finish.  I then ventured off for the second half.  The hardest stretch for me in a marathon is from miles 13 to 18.  To me, that is like no man's land and that is where, mentally, I must focus.  I knew that in this marathon, mile 18 turns back toward the finish so making it there would make me feel that the home stretch was waiting.  With a short out and back between miles 18 and 19, sure enough it was time to head home.  I felt really good.  For some reason although I was on a consistent 4:25 pace I caught up the 4:30 pace who really should have been behind me the whole time.  Sometimes running with pacers is a crapshoot on pace so if you ever feel like the pace is off while running with a pacer, recognize it and get on your own pace.  I passed him around mile 20, so maybe his plan was to run 20 faster and the last 6 slower.

The home stretch was much windier but not really enough to slow the pace.  I started recognizing the roads and knew that if I just kept the legs churning that I would be in fine shape to be sub-4:30.  Sub-4:30 doesn't sound like much these days but as I age, it still sounds like success especially since the age-graded time is sub-4:00.  When I hit Broadway on the Beach, I then know I had a bit more than a mile to the finish at Pelicans stadium.  I felt like I had passed about 100 runners since mile 18 and that is always a good feeling because I have been on both ends of the passing and being passed brings you down.  I finally made it to the finish chute which was pretty empty.  I spotted Cindy and gave her a hug and kiss and ran through the finish line in 4:25:52.  Each time I stop for a kiss and hug from Cindy, I always hear, "Aweeee." Its the best!

So, marathon 83 done and it went better than expected.  83 marathons later, I continue to learn and what a great learning experience it is.  We also had a nice Valentine's weekend with two nice dinners at Toscana and Greg Norman's Australian Grille followed by a show at Legends.  We walked on the boardwalk, the beach and visited the world famous Gay Dolphin.  We even got a little skee ball in.

My next drool is for Rock n Roll DC marathon, March 14.

Here are some pix from the weekend.

Expo
 
Balcony of the Breakers
 
Ready to rumble
 
Sunrise marathon morning
 
Add caption
 

Finished
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mile 13
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A favorite!
 
Cindy's Enhancements