Monday, October 31, 2011

October in Review...Happy Halloween

Yesterday's ten mile frosty run with Kim and Deb brought my October training to a close.  Apparently the golfers couldn't handle the frost. 
Of course the frost had nothing on us runners!  We were already half way through our run when we encountered this sign!  A little frost wasn't going to stop us from getting our run in!

October 2011 Stats
83.2-- running miles
0-- elliptical miles
0-- bike miles
0-- spinning class miles
83.2-- total miles
0 minutes-- rope skipping
155.6-- weight as of October 31, 2011

Current 2011 Stats
1190.71-- running miles
17.8-- elliptical miles
15.86-- bike miles
55.8-- spinning class miles
1280.17-- total miles
1 hour and 55 minutes-- rope skipping

I am very pleased with my October training and am still experiencing the "runner's high" from Columbus Marathon Experience

For the first time in months I am not following a training plan.  I am just running to run and I am enjoying it.  I am looking forward to seeing what November has in store and I can't wait for our girls weekend to run the Rock 'N Roll Vegas 1/2 Marathon in December.  "What Happens in Vegas..."


Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thumbs Up Thursday...Dave P.

This week's spotlight is on Dave P. of Six Degrees of MVNUSID (here).  Once you read his interview head on over to his blog and say hello!

Jodi:  Why did you start running?
Dave P:  I’ve always managed to keep pretty active thanks in large part to working in the athletic department of a small college (Mount Vernon Nazarene University). I would typically play pick-up basketball or other team-oriented sports a couple times of week, so I felt like I was in fairly good shape. I suffered a wrist injury in intramural basketball last winter and that kept me from playing basketball. I started to notice that my pants were getting a little tight and I needed to do something about it. My wife had already run two half marathons at that point, so I thought I would give running a try. It was slow going at first, but as soon as I found a group of friends to run with it really took off. The rest is history. The story from when I started running is here and then the story on my first anniversary of running is here.

Jodi:  How many years have you been racing?
Dave P:  I ran my first race in August 2010. I was hooked! Races are the rewards for all the hard work you do in training. The running group that I'm in, the Mount Vernon Running Buddies, was born out of a group of friends that all ran that first race together. That group is the main reason why I'm still running!  You can read about it here
Dave P's very first race
Jodi:  What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Dave P:  I really like the half marathon distance. I’ve run four of them now and feel like I have a good plan in place when I set out to do one. It’s long enough that it’s a challenge for sure, but it’s short enough that you don’t have to totally re-arrange your life to train for it. Having just done my first full marathon two weeks ago, I’m looking forward to applying what I learned in a spring full and see how much I can improve. I also run a lot of shorter races, but I’m not a sprinter.

Jodi:  What is your favorite race memory?
Dave P:  My favorite race memory so far was running the Mount Vernon Nazarene University Homecoming 5K last November on my 39th birthday with my wife and two daughters. It was the first time that we had all done a race together and the first race of any kind for my two kids – Ashley (10) and Kylie (6). They did great and have since enjoyed running several races with me.

Dave P and his family at their first 5K race
Jodi:  What is your least favorite race memory?
Dave P:  My least favorite race memory is the final five miles of my first half marathon in Columbus last October. I started out WAY too fast and was pretty much out of it from mile eight on. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I don’t remember much about the first 30 minutes after the race as I was definitely in a fog. However, that experience, which was my own fault, made me a better runner. I started running without music after that so that I could soak up all the energy on race day. I promised myself that my top priority from then on at races was to enjoy the experience, interact with the other runners, spectators, and volunteers, and be happy with the fact that I was going to finish. Time became a secondary consideration. Don’t get me wrong…I still want to do my best every time out. However, if you can’t enjoy the journey even when it might get painful, why bother to do it. This change in perspective really paid off when I had to walk a lot over the final six miles of my first marathon and helped me enjoy that part as much as the first 20 miles when I was on pace for a 3:29 finish.  You can read about my first marathon journey here.
Jodi:  What is your proudest running moment to date?
Dave P:  My proudest moment so far has been the four-mile local fundraiser race when I was forced to walk it due to injuries, but I got to witness my six-year-old daughter sprinting to the finish to complete her longest race to date. I still get chills and a little teary-eyed thinking about it.  Check it out here.  For me, it honestly is watching others have success or reaching their goals.

Proud father
Jodi:  What one item do you absolutely have to have with you on a training run?
Dave P:  I hate to run without my Garmin. I’m a numbers-driven guy and that’s probably why I’ve gotten so addicted to running. My 305 watch allows me to run whenever and wherever I want and still have all kinds of data. It has really helped me to improve my times.

Jodi:  What is your favorite fuel during a race?
Dave P:  This is the area that I really still struggle with especially the farther that I run. I do a better than average job of drinking lots of water and hydrating, but fueling during my long runs is still a challenge. For half marathons, I’ve started taking two G1 pouches with me and drinking one right before the race and then just getting water at most of the water stops. My stomach hasn’t mastered the gels yet, but I’m going to keep trying them on my training runs because I know that’s an important piece of the race day puzzle. This is probably one area that I constantly look for advice on, but it really comes down to each individual person’s preference.

Jodi:  What is your favorite post race snack?
Dave P:  My motto is “I run to eat”, so I’m looking for food as soon as the race ends. Panera’s cinnamon crunch bagels and ice cold chocolate milk are a favorite, but really I will eat about anything. In fact, I managed to score a blueberry cake donut at mile 23 of my marathon to help fuel me to the finish. LOL Now, if I could just get Outback to have a hot, juicy steak waiting at the finish line, I would be all set. (Hint, hint). :)

Jodi:  Do you have a favorite quote?
Dave P:  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Jodi:  Finish this statement: When I run, I feel free ________________.
Dave P:  I love having all the time to think, decompress, and solve all the world’s problems on a long run. It’s my physical and mental health break.

Jodi:  Who do you admire most and why?
Dave P:  First of all, I admire my wife, Carla, and appreciate all that she does for our family as a wife and mother all the while working full-time. She spends a lot of time as basically a single mom due to my crazy work schedule that eats up nights and weekends. I also admire my parents. My dad, who is 64, recently rode his bike across the state of Indiana in one day this summer and my mom, who is also 64, walks several miles every day. They, along with my 89-year-old grandma who goes to Curves three times a week, have shown me the benefits of staying active. Finally, I really appreciate the entire running community because they inspire and encourage me on a daily basis.

Dave P. and his dad at the Memorial Day 5K
Jodi:  What is your current goal?
Dave P:  Well, my main goal for 2012 is to run smarter and thus stay healthy. I pushed myself too hard this year and paid the price in the two months leading up to my marathon. I would love to work towards attempting to BQ in a marathon, but 3:15 is a pretty fast pace to try to run. I train with some great people and follow the advice of others, so I have no doubt that I can at least give it my best shot now that I have a little more experience and knowledge.

Jodi:  Please feel free to add anything that will motivate others to lace up their shoes and get out there and run!
Dave P:  I tell people all the time that taking the first steps is the hardest part of the running journey. Also, if you can find at least one other person to run with, you will be much more likely to make it a habit that sticks. Also, for people who think that running isn’t for you, I encourage you to go watch or even volunteer at a local race. You will be inspired and might just take up running after all. That’s how I got started! :)

Dave P. having a blast running a 10 mile race
Thanks again for the opportunity to give you a Thumbs Up Dave P!  Best of luck achieving your current goals!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Dave P. YOU inspire ME!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blessed With A Beautiful Place To Run...

As far back as June 2010 I have gone to the Cleveland Metroparks on Sunday to get in my long runs with some amazing running partners who have become great friends.  Sometimes we need to stop and realize how lucky we are to have such a spectacular, breathtaking place to run "right in our backyard".  On several occasions we have stopped mid-run to take in the scenery and snap a picture. 

Yesterday we stopped just after we all owned the dreaded hill on the course and just took it all in.

The next time you head out for a long run take a minute to take it all in.  Trust me, you won't regret it!!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thumbs Up Thursday...The Columbus Marathon Photographers

This week's spotlight is on the Columbus Marathon Photographers.  Just look at the outstanding work they do!!

Thank you for capturing my pain, pride, and perserverance on Sunday morning.  You did an amazing job documenting me having the time of my life!!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Columubs Marathon Photographers YOUR work INSPIRES me!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

26.2 Reasons To Smile AKA My Columbus Marathon Race Report

Saturday afternoon Deb (my best friend) and I headed to Columbus so I could head to the expo and pick up my race packet for my 3rd marathon attempt on Sunday. After a short stop on the way down for a tiny bite to eat and yet another bathroom break for me, we arrived at the expo. We entered the expo backwards and were doing a little shopping but I told Deb I would feel better if I had my bib number in hand and then we could finish shopping. She happily agreed and we headed over to the packet pickup area and I found my name and bib number on the wall. Headed to the appropriate line (which was the shortest line I might add, I guess I know how to pick them) and received my bib number and swag bag and then walked over to the other side of the pickup area to get my shirt. After this we continued shopping during which time I managed to walk out with only purchasing some 26.2 car magnets for myself and my friend Deb (no not the one I was with, the other one). I also stopped at the pace group booth and grabbed a 4:15 pace band (which by the way had splits to finish in 4:13:06) so I wouldn’t have to do math and run at the same time! Deb purchased a stick, an I-fitness belt which seemed really cool, and a sweet pair of Nike shoes. I did look at some Columbus Marathon gear on our way out but I was underwhelmed by it so I decided not to buy any.

After the expo we headed to Easton to check into our hotel. When I was checking in I asked for a late check out as I was running the marathon and the front desk lady said how about 12:00 to which I told her I was really hoping for 2:00 but I would settle for 1:00. She looked up at me and said no problem and then proceeded to ask me if I would like some bananas since I was running in the morning. I graciously accepted her offer. Once we got settled in we headed to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. As we were waiting for a table there was plenty of people watching to be had. Deb and I were having a ball analyzing what people were wearing! Once we got seated we were looking over the menu and I was checking out the beer list to which our waitress said, “I see you are looking at the beer list. Just so you know we have Yuengling on draft.” I immediately said “done, I will take one” (what can I say; it’s the PA in me). Deb had a really yummy drink as well but of course I can’t remember the name of it at the moment. We decided to share a chop salad and we both ordered fish tacos. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Trader Joe’s to buy a few things, namely electrolyte enhanced water for me for the race. We had talked with Dave earlier in the day and he was planning to crash on the couch of our suite so we left a key for him at the front desk since he wouldn’t be getting in until after midnight and we would certainly be asleep! After taking care of the key drop we headed upstairs and I got everything ready for the morning, read my Runner’s World for a bit, and called it a night. After all, I had a 4:30AM alarm to contend with along with a 4:45AM wake-up text from Deb and Missi who were in the middle of driving from Cleveland to Columbus to support me in the marathon.  I slept pretty well and got up with the alarm with no problem. I walked out to the kitchen part of our suite and tried to be quiet as to not wake Dave but that didn’t exactly work so since he was up anyway I asked if he minded if I turned the light on. Fortunately he was fine with that and sitting on the table was a gift bag which said it all.
After starting a pot of coffee I opened the card and gift bag. The card had the perfect saying on it for the challenge I was about to face and the gifts were very thoughtful. They included a small balloon that said “It’s your day”, the running book "Staying The Course:  A Runner's Toughest Race", Power Bar gummies, sample size bio-freeze, sample size Glide, and a cute stuffed monkey which of course my daughter confiscated when I got home last night. A few minutes later Deb came out to the kitchen and we all chatted. Shortly after I started on my first cup of coffee, Deb (the other one) and Missi who had been driving since 3:00AM arrived at the hotel. I was pretty calm while I drank my coffee, and ate my peanut butter bagel and banana. Everyone was asking me how I was feeling and if I was nervous to which I happily responded “I feel great and I’m not nervous at all”. With breakfast eaten, I got ready for the race, filled my fuel belt and handed additional items to everyone else just in case I needed them later in the race. We took a few pictures and we headed out for the start line.

Deb did an amazing job of navigating the spectating minivan. She skipped the exit that had a crazy long line and took the next one and got us pretty darn close to the start line in a very timely manner. Once we were parked and started heading toward the start line I told Deb that I needed a restroom so it would be awesome if she could locate one before I got to the start line and had to wait in the port-a-potty line. As we were walking Deb casually told me to go right and sure enough there was a hotel with clean, line free restrooms! Final bathroom break taken care of and we continued on to the start line. I thanked Deb again for finding the restroom when we got to the start line and the port-a-potty line was never ending! We took a few more pictures and shared a few hugs and then my spectators/race support sent me on my way to the start line with a promise of seeing me at mile 18 if not before (there had been discussion in the van of them being at mile 7).
I tried to make my way to Corral D but there were crowds of spectators and runners so I settled for Corral E which I got into by jumping a fence. We listened to the star spangled banner and the start horn sounded along with a fireworks display. It was pure awesome!

While waiting for my corral to go, I took a moment and touched my back bib and thought of Uncle Joe. I looked up to the sky and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. This was my day and I knew he would carry me through.
Right before it was my turn to cross over the starting mat I sent a text message to Dave letting him know that I would be runner left so that they would be on the correct side of the street when I got to them.

Miles 1-5
The start was incredibly crowded but I managed to navigate my way through and get into a nice rhythm. Shortly after mile 1 I heard someone calling my name. I turned to my right and I saw one of my college friends, Elli. She told me she recognized my shirt and we ran together for a few minutes. I was happy to see her! I was feeling pretty good which is probably to be expected this early in the race. I remember wondering at the 5K mark why there wasn’t a timing mat since I knew my spectators/race support were tracking me and I was a little ahead of my anticipated race pace. I was feeling good, taking in water on the odd miles and sustain (my electrolyte drink of choice) on the even miles. I would go on to eat Power Bar Gummies at the 1 hour, 2 hour, and 3 hour marks. I noticed I had a pretty decent cushion on my pace band which made me smile.

Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 9:17
Mile 3: 9:13
Mile 4: 9:17
Mile 5: 9:21

Miles 6-10
I was honestly having the time of my life running and taking in the scenery and all of the amazing spectators. I remember looking at my watch as I crossed the 10K mat and thinking I would be seeing my support crew soon as they had mentioned mile 7 in the van. I got to mile 7 and they were nowhere in sight but I was oddly okay with it because I knew I would see them at mile 18 when Missi and Deb (the other one) would join in and run with me. What I didn’t know is Deb (my best friend) was talking with everyone in the van and told them that she knew I was going to run faster than my intended pace so they should go with 9:00 miles to ensure they got to me in time. As I came up on mile 9 I could see Deb’s jacket and then I saw everyone else. I waved at them like crazy and gave them all a high-five as I rounded the corner and continued on. It was a very welcome surprise that put a little more pep in my step or stride as it may be! Come to find out later that it made more sense for them to walk to mile 9 from a few blocks away and that’s why they weren’t at 7.

Mile 6: 9:07
Mile 7: 9:25
Mile 8: 9:20
Mile 9: 9:13
Mile 10: 9:03

Miles 11-15
One of my co-workers had mentioned on Facebook prior to the race that she would be at the corner of Reinhard and Jaeger. I looked up the location of said intersection on the course map and noticed she would be between miles 10 and 11. As I was running along I kept an eye out for her and sure enough I saw her right before mile 11. I yelled her name a few times and then she finally realized it was me. It was nice to see a familiar face on the course again. Still feeling incredibly good at this point I was just taking it all in and enjoying the moment. Right around mile 12 I noticed a familiar ponytail swing and pink shirt. I knew instantly that it was my co-worker Kristin who was running her first half. I called out her name and said hello. She asked me if I was running the full and I said yes. She squeezed my hand and told me I was looking great and shouted good luck as I went by. I wished her luck as well and continued on my way. Imagine my surprise when I approached mile 12.5 and I saw none other than my support crew! I was beyond happy to see them as I was certain I wouldn’t see them again until mile 18. Once again I waved at them like crazy and gave another round of high-fives. This is the part of the race where you have to mentally prepare yourself as you essentially run past the finish line to continue on the marathon course. As the half marathon runners were making a left to the finish line we were going up a small hill towards mile 14. One of the volunteers looked me dead in the eye and said “you’re awesome, they suck (pointing to the runners turning left).” It totally cracked me up and it was just what I needed. Let me clarify before I go on, I have the utmost respect for half marathon runners in fact the half marathon is my favorite race. Her comment just happened to be the comic relief I needed at that moment to propel me up that hill. I happily hit the half marathon mat at 2:02:14. As I passed mile 14 there was a couple sitting on lawn chairs with a sign that read if you are running, we are drinking. I looked over at them and said “I’m running, why aren’t you drinking?” They immediately picked up their cups and took a drink. I was still feeling good as we approached a water stop. I was happy that I had my own water because the water stops were pretty crowded.

Mile 11: 9:07
Mile 12: 9:29
Mile 13: 9:15
Mile 14: 9:19
Mile 15: 9:29

Miles 16-20
I continued to feel good and had some nice memories of Uncle Joe at mile 16. I smiled knowing that he was watching over me. I thought of Uncle Joe a lot during mile 16 because of the significance of the number. During this stretch of the race we ran on The Ohio State University Campus. It was really neat to be able to see right into The Shoe. There were college students outside cheering for us and the campus water stop was by far the best water stop energy wise. The only thing I found odd about running on campus was that we turned around a cone in a parking lot to head back out onto the course. This was the only time that you were able to see the runners who were behind you. I knew after exiting the campus I would see my support crew again which also meant that I would be getting some much needed company on the course. I spotted my support crew from about a ¼ of a mile away and waved at them as I had done the previous two times I saw them. I got the best hugs ever from Deb (my best friend) and Dave and then Missi and Deb (the other one) jumped in with me. During the hugs my earphones got all tangled so I asked Missi to fix them for me. Once I was readjusted the girls asked me how I was feeling and I told them I was feeling really good and I was having fun. They told me I was looking great and that I had this. I was so happy to have their company at this point. I didn’t talk too much but I did tuck in behind Missi a lot to get out of some of the wind that had kicked up. Once we hit mile 20 I said “how about we run a 10K” to which Missi replied “you’ve got this, you’re doing awesome”. Moments after I made that comment the pain set in. I started saying my running mantra to myself, “Uncle Joe, Uncle Joe” and of course it helped. This race was just as much for him as it was for me.

Mile 16: 9:25
Mile 17: 9:26
Mile 18: 9:35
Mile 19: 9:59
Mile 20: 9:49

Miles 21-25
I knew we would be seeing Deb and Dave soon as Dave would be jumping in with us around mile 22 and mile 22 is when the pain really hit me. I wanted to walk so badly but I was terrified to do so in fear that I wouldn’t be able to start running again. After the fact Deb would tell me that she could see the pain written all over my face. Dave jumped in and that certainly lifted my spirits. Now I had three people supporting me when I needed it the most! Most of you know my previous two marathon stories but if you don’t you can read about them here and here. Mile 22 holds a very significant place in my head and my heart so it was only fitting that Dave asked me what the flag up ahead said to which I replied 22 with a smile. I realized how badly I was hurting and at mile 23 I told everyone that we were running on Uncle Joe reserves. Missi pointed up to the sky and said that’s right, don’t you worry, she’s got this. Deb also told me I was doing awesome at this point. I was seriously ready to be done and even said can we just get me to the finish line? I kept plugging along and throwing out expletives when the wind would grab me. Dave asked me what the flag said again at mile 23 and I said 23 and managed a smile. It was getting harder by the minute. Everything was hurting, I was tired, and I was ready to be done. My pace slowed a bit before we hit mile 24. I once again responded with a smile to Dave’s flag question! I was exhausted but I knew I was doing it and I knew I would have to really slow down to not make my goal time. As we rounded a corner there was course entertainment that was playing an awesome song (can’t think of the name of it for the life of me) and I threw my hands up in a fist pump. I was trying anything at this point to get me to the end. We approached the mile 25 flag (which is by far the most incredibly significant mile in my marathons) and Dave asked me one last time “what’s that flag say?” I pretty much screamed 25. He asked me no less than 3 more times to which I happily replied 25! At this point Missi looked at me and said “let’s finish this, enjoy these last 1.2 miles. This is what you trained for, this is YOUR day.” I told her she had to stop talking or she was going to make me cry. It was all I could do to hold it together. I am certain I took her advice as mile 25 was my slowest mile all day. I was taking it all in!

Mile 21: 9:36
Mile 22: 9:39
Mile 23: 9:43
Mile 24: 9:47
Mile 25: 10:13

The Finish
I can vividly remember the last water stop because one of the workers was holding a sign that said 1.2 to go. This water stop also stuck out in my mind because there was a young boy who looked at me and said “you’ve got this, you’ve got heart, you can do it.” Before I knew it I saw the ½ mile to go sign. Just before I hit the 26 mile flag Deb, Missi, and Dave gave me some last minute encouraging words and told me to finish it. The moment I ran past the 26 mile flag the tears started flowing. There was only .2 miles standing between me and the finish line of the Columbus Marathon. I gave it my all and owned that last .2 miles. As I crossed the mat and heard my name announced I threw my hands up in the air and that’s when the uncontrollable sobbing started. I had done it. I had finished MY marathon, I had beaten MY goal by 5 minutes, and I had done MY Uncle Joe proud. I bent over to collect my thoughts and one of the volunteers asked me if I was okay to which I responded “I’m great”. With full fledged tears still running down my cheeks I received my medal from a very nice looking military man. I stopped to have my finish picture taken and then I headed to the family reunion area.

Mile 26: 9:52
Final .2 (.42 according to my Garmin): 3:33
FINISH TIME: 4:10:11*
(Garmin says 4:10:24 however I didn’t stop it right away because I was too busy celebrating!)
*A PR of 1 hour and 43 minutes

Once I was in the family reunion area and had my water and chocolate milk I texted Coach Joe, who created my awesome training plan, my finish time.  Thanks again for everything Joe!   After I sent the text I walk past someone and she says “Jodi?” Sure enough it was April, a girl I went to high school with. I graduated with her husband Mark and he was running the marathon as well. It was crazy that we ran into each other. I shared a hug with both April and Mark and she decided she needed to take a picture of the high school classmates almost 20 years later. Really April, did you have to age us?

I congratulated Mark and then Dave called my phone and I was reunited with him, Deb, and Missi. Many tearful hugs were exchanged. Although I’m pretty sure I was the only one bawling like a baby! I immediately asked where Deb (my best friend) was and it turned out she was stuck in traffic trying to get to the finish line. We finally reunited with her and we shared a hug, she told me congratulations and said I'm sorry.  She was really upset and felt bad that she wasn’t at the finish line but I told her having her on the course at miles 9, 12.5, 18, and 21.5 meant the world to me. I also told her the hugs at mile 18 totally trumped her not being at the finish line and no apology was necessary.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The painful walk back to the car commenced and we made it back to the hotel where I felt human again after a nice hot shower. I am happy to report that I didn’t have one ounce of chafing and only a tiny blister on my pinky toe to speak of. After I showered I told them I had to run another one so I could break 4 hours. Deb (my best friend) said who are you kidding, you’re going to run until you qualify for Boston. Once everyone was cleaned up we headed to California Pizza Kitchen once again because I was starving and I really wanted fish tacos and a chop salad again. We enjoyed a nice lunch and then we said our goodbyes and headed home.

This post is not complete without my expression of gratitude to Deb (my best friend), Missi, Deb (the other one), Dave, and last but not certainly least my Uncle Joe for seeing me through to the end. Talk about friendship at its very best! Thank you will never be enough!

So, how am I feeling post marathon? I am fully aware of every single muscle in my body right now. I am still flying on my “runner’s high” and I am over the moon happy and can’t wipe the smile off my face. I can honestly say it was PERFECT!!

Final thoughts:

When’s the next one because I had the time of my life yesterday!!
Keep running, you’re simply the best, and you inspire me!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Columbus Marathon...As Ready As I Will Ever Be.....

Tomorrow morning I will be toeing the line of my 3rd marathon.
It just so happens that exactly 3 month ago tomorrow Uncle Joe lost his battle with cancer.  I am certain it isn't a coincidence that I am attempting my 3rd marathon tomorrow.  Uncle Joe always had a way of gently pushing us to our fullest potential.  As the saying goes, 3rd times a charm.  I know for a fact that Uncle Joe will have my back for all 26.2 miles.
When the pain sets in, which inevitably it will, I will draw from the strength of one of the most amazing men I had the pleasure to be related to.  My running mantra for tomorrow will be Uncle Joe, Uncle Joe.  He fought the good fight, he never gave up.  He will always be our superman!
I also have the privilege of having an amazing group of friends with me tomorrow on my journey!  They are there to see me through to the finish and thank you will never be enough to express my gratitude for each of their friendships!

My best friend Deb who is always there for me win or lose no questions asked.
Deb and Missi who have spent countless hours providing therapy and support out on the trails!

Dave my guardian angel that got me through my second marathon attempt.  He never gave up on me and he didn't let me give up on myself.

Joe my running coach and friend who will be running with me from afar as he takes on a 22 mile training run tomorrow morning.

Of course there are countless others who will be following me and supporting me via Facebook and Maptracker tomorrow.

There's nothing left but to JUST DO IT!!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thumbs Up Thursday...Greg

This week's spotlight is on Greg of Predawn Runner (here).  Once you read Greg's interview head on over to his blog and say hello.  I promise you will be truly inspired.  Did I mention he won a marathon this past Sunday?

Jodi:  How long have you been running?
Greg:  Well, it's been around 22 years "elapsed time" I guess, but there was a bit of on and off in that - so maybe 3 years in high school with track (specialized in the mile), maybe 5 in college and after I got married (my early road-race era), inexplicably took a few years off, 4 years in the early '00's (where I experimented in marathons, but didn't inhale), and now 3 years of the really serious stuff - so 15 "net" years.

Jodi:  Why did you start running?
Greg:  There was a girl on the high school track team I was interested in. We only dated briefly, but fortunately the running lasted a lot longer. In my first track meet, I ran the fastest 2-mile time of the year thus far for the team with just a week of training, so I guess my soccer background had given me a good fitness base to build off of, and I was hooked on running. I stuck with track even when the girl became less of a motivation (though, admittedly, there was another one...).

Jodi:  How many years have you been racing?
Greg:  I did my first road races in college, right around 1993 when I met my now-wife. The peak of this was my first half-marathon, the Buckeye Half down in Peninsula (I went to college at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland). I honestly don't remember my time but I think it was around 1:40. I had to walk out one side stitch but otherwise the race went well. I didn't really run to race then, it was more to lose the "freshman 15" and get some time away from the hard-core engineering / economics curriculum.

Jodi:  What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Greg:  I am heart and soul a marathon runner. I love the event because it is something you can build your whole season around, and in doing so you can still put in some solid half-marathon's, 10K's, even 5K's. I may someday make the leap to ultras, but I like the fact that marathons are more "comparable" - while courses may vary on hilliness, time of year (and thus temperature), etc., you don't have the wild variety of surface that you typically see in the ultras. Thus, you can focus on your PR and continue to drill it down for years - well into your 40's, for example, especially if you come late to running. I have done 9 of them now (4 Chicago, 1 Cincinnati, 1 Boston, 1 Cleveland, 1 Akron, 1 Towpath), and plan to continue at a 2-3 per year pace for the foreseeable future.

Jodi:  What is your favorite race memory?
Greg:  I'm going to focus on the 2nd favorite here because my favorite is also my proudest, below. This was my first Boston Qualifier (BQ) marathon at Chicago in 2002. It was my third overall marathon, I had trained pretty well but still didn't know if I had a BQ in me. I went out too fast, but managed to hold on until mile 25, at which point I had to pull off, under McCormick Center, to stretch out a hamstring strain. The 3:10 pacers (my BQ time) passed me at that point, so I got back out on the road and put in a 7:40 mile, even including the stretching, to finish in 3:09:08.

Jodi:  What is your least favorite race memory?
Greg:  I skipped my first Boston opportunity as it was a few months after our first son was born - we now have three boys, and I was stupid enough with the first to think that I could train through those early months. I then ran Boston 2004, after "tuning up" at Chicago 2003. One thing about the Boston course is that it has no forgiveness for fools, especially when the high temperature is 85 degrees as it was that day. I don't think my training was particularly strong ahead of that race, but I didn't let that stop me from blowing out the first few miles, on the early downhills. By mile 9, I was cooked. There was a lot of walking the rest of the course, though I did manage to run Heartbreak Hill (my heart was broken long before then anyway). My final time was 3:56, my worst-ever marathon performance. Now I recognize that there is nothing wrong with a sub-4:00 marathon, so I don't want to come across as arrogant, but when you are running Boston and had qualified with a time nearly 50 minutes faster, you can probably appreciate the sense of disappointment. And my wife had stayed home with our son, so there wasn't really a shoulder to cry on. Not that I cry but, well, you know what I mean.

Jodi:  What is your proudest running moment to date?
Greg:  This one is easy - this past weekend I enjoyed a completely unexpected win at the Towpath Marathon. I had a strong season of training, logging many 70+ mile weeks and some of the best tempo and interval runs I've ever done (though also some absolute flops due to the summer humidity - which made me stronger in the long run). I felt very confident in my 3:00 goal. But I had no thought ever of actually winning the marathon. Through a fortunate series of events, mostly involving all the leaders fading while I held a steady pace throughout, I moved from fifth place at mile 21 (which I was fully content with) to first by mile 25, and ended up winning by over three minutes. If anyone is interested in more details, I posted a full race report on my blog.

Jodi:  What one item do you absolutely have to have with you on a training run?
Greg:  I'm pretty minimalist about gear, I rarely take water unless it's over 15 miles (maybe 12 if it's humid out), and I rarely use my iPod. My must-have item is my Garmin Forerunner 405, as I am really big on metrics. However, I've taken to running all of my recovery-type runs with leaving the watch on time of day and not automatically showing splits, so that I'm running by feel but still get the final miles and pace to calibrate my "feel" on an ongoing basis. Since I don't really care about pace while I'm running such runs, there is no disappointment if it's slower than normal, but plenty of satisfaction when an "easy" run comes in surprisingly fast, as it did on one of my runs the week before the Towpath - thought I was running around 7:40, ended up at 7:05.

Jodi:  What is your favorite fuel during a race?
Greg:  Turns out Gatorade from the aid stations is all I really need. I've taken gels offered during past races, but missed the opportunity to do so at the Towpath and suffered no bonk whatsoever. I think the fact that I run 90% of my miles before breakfast, including 20 milers, has helped me develop a pretty good ability to utilize my glycogen efficiently.

Jodi:  What is your favorite post race snack?
Greg:  I'm not real picky about this either, and with most of my marathons being local these days due to family commitments (I had to miss the awards ceremony at the Towpath to coach my son's soccer game), we don't really go out to celebrate either. So it's generally whatever we make for dinner that night, which is typically kid-friendly. We did go to Morton's for a nice porterhouse (well, I don't think my wife had a porterhouse) after my first marathon in Chicago, but haven't really done anything like that since. I do tend to indulge in beer during my post-race recovery period, whereas I forgo it during the two months or so before the marathon.

Jodi:  Do you have a favorite quote?
Greg:  It may seem a bit of an odd quote, but my favorite comes from Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, where I spent the first 13 years of my career. I'm not sure if he got it from someone else, but he once stated, "yesterday's news warps today's fish". To me, life, and running, is about looking ahead, not looking back. This is true whether your past has been successful or, well, less than you hoped for. So celebrate your accomplishment, or lament a tragedy, but at some point you have to realize that you can only influence what happens from this point on, not what has already happened. It is pointless to waste energy over the latter.

Jodi:  Finish this statement: When I run a feel _________.
Greg:  empowered. What I love about running is that you control your own fate. Yes, natural ability comes into play, but you control how you take that ability and apply it towards setting and reaching your goals. Your race is rarely against others (though it is fun when that starts to happen), but it is against your own self - thus the quality of competition doesn't matter, the abilities of other "team members" doesn't matter. It is all about your own heart, discipline, desire, and intelligence (the latter comes into play in sorting out the approach to running and gear that is right for you).

Jodi:  Who do you admire most and why?
Greg:  I'm pretty humble about this I guess, as I would say it is my own father and my father-in-law. Both were hard workers, good fathers, and good role models for their family, and that is all I have aspired to be. Anything beyond that is gravy. Yes, I have dreams and goals, advancing in business, stretching towards ever-better running accomplishments. But I want to be remembered for what I did with and for my family, and if I fail at that, then I've failed at life.

Jodi:  What is your current goal?
Greg:  I assume we are still talking about running here (my other goals are as stated above). Since my goal was a sub-3:00 marathon, I guess I need to adjust it now. I'm pretty simplistic about this in general - at a high level, my goal is to see how much longer I can continue to improve my marathon time before my age starts to catch up with me. I suspect I have a good 5-7 years to go on this. So as a next step, I'd like to work towards a 2:50 marathon, maybe 2:45 in the long run.

Since we all know pictures make Thumbs Up Thursday even better, I give you Greg.

2011 River Run Half Marathon

2011  Towpath Ten 3-Way Race

Greg and his beautiful family

Thanks again for the opportunity to give you a Thumbs Up Greg!  Best of luck achieving your new found goals.

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Greg YOU inspire ME!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Whole New Perspective on Why Everything Happens for a Reason AKA Spectating the Chicago Marathon

If you have been reading my blog for the past few months you likely know that I spend a lot of time with my friends Deb and Missi on Sunday mornings.  You see all three of us were training for a marathon so we ran our long runs together.  Before I go on with this post I must remind you how the three of us met.  Back in April Jenn and I were training for the 2011 Cleveland Marathon and we had a 20 miler on the schedule so we decided to run ten miles and then run the Cleveland 10 Miler to get to the mileage we needed for that weekend.  Originally Dave ,who was also going to be running the Cleveland Marathon with us, was supposed to have the same 20 mile training run on his schedule however he ended up getting injured during a half marathon in February, that I just so happened to be pacing him at, so his altered training plan called for 10 miles that day.  The plan that day was for Jenn and I to set out early and get our first 10 miles in and then meet Dave at the starting line and run the race together.  While Jenn and I were running Dave came across four girls that were taking turns snapping pictures of each other so in typical Dave fashion he kindly offered to take pictures of all of them and before he knew it they had him in the pictures with them.  By the end of the conversation Deb, Missi, Brigette, and Kim had told Dave that he had better have a Facebook account and that if he didn't he better get one so they could tag him in the photos and be friends with him on Facebook.  Jenn and I met the girls after we finished the race and by later that evening we were all friends on Facebook.  Fast forward to Jenn and I's final long run before Cleveland and wouldn't you know Jenn was running late and we had to change our original meeting time and sure enough this allowed Deb and Missi to be there at the same time as us so we all ran together.
During the past 18 weeks of running with Deb and Missi I knew I really wanted to be in Chicago to offer my support.  Afterall they were a huge part of helping me find my love for running again after my very emotionally trying 2011 Cleveland Marathon.  I figured there was no better way to say thank you!  As it would work out Dave and I were able to make it to Chicago this past weekend to see them finish their journey.

The plan was for Dave to drive to my house from Columbus Friday morning and then drive my truck to Chicago as I am not a fan of driving long distances at all.  After seeing Grant off to school we were on our way to the windy city!  The drive turned a bit lengthy when we were trying to find a bookstore for Dave to purchase some books for the gift bags he had made for Deb and Missi.  My Garmin pretty much sent us on a wild goose chase to get us back to the highway after the stop at the bookstore.  It would tell us where to turn and then we would get there and we couldn't actually get back on the highway because it would be fenced off.  Forty-five minutes later we finally made our way back to the highway thanks to the directions we received at a gas station.  Of course the bookstore didn't have what we needed so we knew we would have to make another stop.  Luckily we found a Barnes and Noble and they had the books we needed.  Once we were back in the car Dave asked me if I would fix up the bags for Deb and Missi.  I was more than happy to help out.  We finally made it to Chicago around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Once we got there we met up with Deb, Missi, and Mary Jo and took some time to relax.  At this point Dave gave the girls their gift bags and I knew they would love them.  There were a few tears sheds which was to be expected.  We had a great dinner and experienced a bit of Chicago before calling it a night.

First thing in the morning we headed to the West Egg Cafe to have some breakfast.  I had the most delicious french toast made with raisin bread.  Who would have thought that would be such a good combination!  After breakfast we headed to the expo so that Deb and Missi could pick up their race packets.
After walking around for a bit we headed to the DetermiNation booth with Deb as she was running with ACS in memory of her mom.  Deb took a few minutes to honor her mom's memory.  As I watched her write her mom's name it was all I could do to hold back the tears.  My heart was breaking for her.

I noticed Deb was crying at this point so I walked over and gave her a hug.  She said it was all so real seeing it in writing.  She also mentioned that all of it was so hard.  One of the girls at the DetermiNation booth had watched Deb go through all of the emotions and asked if she could hug her.  It was amazing to witness the instant bond Deb had with someone she had just met. 

After we left the DetermiNation booth Deb and Missi wanted to do a little bit of shopping.  As we were walking around the corner Missi noticed there was a sign for Hal Higdon's books and then she looked down and realized that Hal Higdon was actually sitting under the sign.  Missi and Deb were both very excited to meet him as they had followed his training plan for the marathon.

Once we took pictures of the girls with Hal they decided they wanted to find a shirt from the marathon.  While they were looking through their options Dave and I checked out the Nike wall to find their names listed.

Missi and Deb made their purchases and Dave texted Amanda from Get to Goal so we could try and meet up since she was running Chicago as her first marathon.  We all went and grabbed a small bite to eat.  The interesting thing about our meeting was that Deb and Missi thought Dave and I had known Amanda for a long time however we had just met her minutes before at the expo.  She is a great person with an amazing personality! I look forward to seeing her again soon!
After we finished up with pictures we headed to the Navy Pier to make a few purchases and then we parted ways with Amanda with a promise of hopefully seeing her in the morning at the race.  Before we headed back to get some rest we had to get a picture of the four of us at the Navy Pier.
We decided to just order pizza in since Deb and Missi wanted to get to bed early to be well rested for the morning.  Once we finished eating Dave and I went downstairs to the lobby with the course map in hand to figure out our plan of attack for race day.  Who knew spectating was such hard work!!  Once we were confident we had everything figured out we decided to call it a night.  The girls got up early and started preparing for the race.  Once Deb had gotten her DetermiNation tank top on she asked me to pin her memory bib on her back.

 Dave and I planned to walk Deb and Missi to the start.  On our way we had to take advantage of the gorgeous skyline to take a picture of the girls!  I swear this could be an add for the Chicago Marathon or a post card!

Dave and I wished the girls luck and left them prior to their arrival at the start line.  They seemed confused as to why we were leaving them so soon.  What they didn't know is that we had planned to stop at the store and buy them flowers for after the marathon.  Plus we had also decided we were going to be around the 8 mile mark to cheer them on!  Dave took control of the map which is a really good thing because I have absolutely no sense of direction.  We managed to navigate the subway and arrive at our first stop prior to Deb and Missi's arrival.  As luck would have it the girls were running on the opposite side of the street so we cheered them on from afar.  I am pretty sure they heard us but I know they didn't actually see us.  Now we had to get to mile 18 so that we could jump in with them as we had planned.  We decided to get off the subway at mile 16.5.  Once there we waited for an update on our phones to figure out when we should expect to see the girls.  Shortly after arriving at mile 16.5 the text alerts came through and I instantly knew something was wrong when I saw that the girls were no longer together and they were at a much slower pace than what they had planned.  We also were really worried about Amanda at this point as we hadn't gotten any text updates on her.  Dave had her cell number so he decided he would text her and see if she would respond and sure enough she did.  She was at mile 15.  We knew Amanda was disappointed because many of the people that said they would be there to support her changed their plans at the last minute and weren't there.  At this point Dave and I decided we would jump in with Amanda and run with her to mile 18 where we would pick up Deb and Missi.  The best part was that Amanda had no idea we were planning to run with her.  Once she got to us we shared a hug and a smile and then Dave and I jumped on the course and she said: "you're going to run with me?" and we simply said:  "yes".  Amanda was feeling pretty good and looked pretty awesome when we were running with her.  As we approached the 18 mile marker we wished her luck and sent her on her way.  I am so glad we had the chance to run with her and offer her some support!  While we were waiting for Deb and Missi we cheered on the runners as they came past.  A few of them stopped to take a picture of the mile 18 sign.  Of course we offered to take a picture with them in it and a couple of people were very excited to have those pictures!  Shortly after we took the last picture, Deb and Missi arrived.  Missi mentioned that Deb was having a hard time breathing due to a cold that she was fighting.  Deb asked for a gel and some tissues as we had extra supplies of both.  Once Deb took a gel Missi said okay guys go ahead and jump in so we did.  I could tell Deb was very disappointed and frustrated which I completely understood as I was in the same situation back in May at Cleveland.  I asked Deb if she wanted me to talk or what she wanted me to do.  She said she didn't want me to talk and she said she was sorry.  I told her there was absolutely no reason for her to be apologizing.  I was there to support her and I would do whatever she needed me to do no questions asked.  As we were running Deb talked a little bit and said "this isn't how it's supposed to be, this sucks, I'm hot and I just want to be done."  At this point I realized how appropriate it was for me to be with her.  Afterall, I had said the exact same things during my marathon.  I assured Deb that I could relate and we pressed on.  Shortly before mile 20 Deb stopped to stretch out her back and the police officers on the course came over to ask her if she was okay to which she told them she was.  After we went a few more steps Deb was starting to tear up.  I moved her to the side of the course and gave her a big hug while she cried on my shoulder.  I told her that we all truly cared about her and we were very proud of her and she needed to remember that.  I also told her that we were in it together and we were going to finish it even if we had to crawl to which she responded not finishing isn't an option.  Deb and I  were rejoined by Missi and Dave shortly after this.  Deb told Missi that she needed to go and run her race and that she would be fine because I was with her.  Missi pretty much shot that down.  The girls "argued" for a minute over Missi staying with Deb as Missi wasn't going anywhere and Deb was insisting she go.  There was a bit of comic relief when Missi told Deb to stop it or they were going to throw down right there on the course!  When we arrived at mile 21 Dave left the course as he has only been cleared to run short distances.  I know he really wanted to stay with us but he had to do the right thing as to not injure himself again.  He wished the girls luck and left for the finish line as promised.  The next several miles were very quiet.  I would give Deb tissues when requested and otherwise I would just run beside her and keep an eye on her to make sure she was doing okay physically.  Once we had passed mile 24 Deb asked me how far it was until the next mile marker and I didn't respond to which she said can you just tell me please.  Sadly I wasn't able to give her an exact distance as I hadn't started my Garmin on time.  I gave her an estimate and we kept plugging along.  She needed to walk again to which she apologized for and once again I told her I was there to do whatever she needed me to do so if she needed to walk we were walking.  We got past the 25 mile marker and there was a group of DeterminNation coaches cheering for Deb like crazy.  I am pretty sure she had a tiny smile but I could tell the emotions were at an all time high as she was certainly thinking of her mom.  I knew I was going to be pulled from the course eventually but thought it would be at mile 26 as Dave had texted me and told me that is where they were pulling people.  As it would turn out I was going to be pulled from the course with 800 meters to go.  I told Missi I had to leave the course and she looked at Deb and said we got this.  I gave Deb a pat on the back and told her to go ahead and finish this.  I then told Missi that we would see them at the finish line.  I came off the course and ran on the sidewalk beside them until they made the final turn at the 26 mile marker which is where I rejoined Dave.  We didn't actually get to see them cross the finish line but we received the text alert that they had in fact finished the race side by side as was the plan for the past 18 weeks.  The finish area wasn't set up well at all and it took us a long time to figure out what we were going to do.  In the meantime Dave talked to Amanda and she joined us at the finish and we talked about her race for a bit which you can read about on her blog (afterall, it's her story to tell)!  Dave and I finally decided we should head back to the hotel since we hadn't seen the girls.  As luck would have it Amanda was walking back to her car she ran into Deb and Missi and called Dave and we were able to reunite with the girls and make our way back to the hotel.  As we were walking back I realized I hadn't done a good job of keeping myself hydrated at all because I was keeping my eye on Deb and making sure she was hydrated.  I told the girls to go ahead and I would join them shortly.  I sat down and drank some water and then remembered I had my gummies so I ate those and that helped and Dave and I made it back to the hotel. 

Deb had showered and was packing to get to the airport in time for their flight and she simply said thank you to which Dave and I said for what.  Her response was simply everything and then she started to cry again.  I walked over to her and gave her another hug and told her that I truly got it and I knew how she was feeling.  She then mentioned that she obviously wasn't trained enough to which I pointed out that she was definitely trained.  She hadn't missed one single workout in 18 weeks.  It wasn't about being physically prepared it was about all of the emotions that she went through during the race that no one could predict would happen.  Regardless of how Deb was feeling about the race I told her how proud I was of her because no matter how she got there she had finished a marathon.  Deb and Missi gave us some of their stuff to take home since they wouldn't be able to take it on the airplane and then everyone finished packing up and we sent the girls on their way to the airport and Dave and I got ready for our long drive home.  Shortly after we started our drive home I got a message of Facebook from Deb that said thank you for everything.  I replied with just being a friend!  So glad I was able to be there today!  Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your journey.  I'm incredibly proud of you and I know your mom is looking down with a huge smile on her face.

As we were driving Dave and I realized we had only eaten a bagel and peanut butter all day so we needed to stop for dinner.  The only options on the turnpike were McDonald's and Dairy Queen so we kept driving until we found an exit that had an Olive Garden because we needed real food.  We stopped at a few more rest stops to use the restroom and get out and stretch and we finally made it back to my house around 1:30 in the morning. 

Monday morning I texted Deb to tell her I was very proud of her.  Her response was I'm not.  I feel like I don't even deserve to put the 26.2 sticker on my car.  I once again told her I truly understood how she felt but in the end she finished a marathon.  Later in the day Deb stopped by my office to pick up the items we had brought home for her and Missi.  We talked a little bit and she mentioned that she was really hot by mile two and was wishing she had scissors to cut her pants off into shorts.  It was all too familiar as I was right back to May when I was taking off layers at mile 2.  Deb then saw my magnet on my car and told me that she needed the same one.

I told her once again that I completely understood how she was feeling.  I also mentioned to her that it will take awhile but she will eventually get it.  She will most likely never accept it but she will certainly get it.  It took me a good week and a lot of tears to understand that no matter how you look at it I did complete a marathon just not in the manner that I had planned.

All this brings me back to the title of my post.  I have never felt more strongly than I do now about the statement:  Everything happens for a reason.  You see if Dave hadn't gotten hurt we would have never met Deb and Missi and I wouldn't have been in Chicago at mile 18 where I needed to be to see them through to the finish line.  It was my honor to pay it forward to my amazing friends.

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Deb your DeterminNation inspires me!  Keep your chin up and be proud.