Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Solstice Run

So what happens when you only run once a week for a few weeks? You slow down quickly! Last weekend I had a cousin's graduation party to attend on the east side of the state, so naturally I started looking for races in the area for Saturday morning. I didn't get very far in my search (by very far I mean I started thinking about looking for races) and Redhead emailed me to inform me of the Solstice Run 10 Miler in Northville. This was perfect. My aunt and uncle live about 45 minutes away from there and they were willing to let me come over Friday night and crash at their place, saving me from an otherwise 2 hour drive from home. As if that wasn't generous enough, they mentioned it to my aunts parents who just so happen to live right in Northville and they insisted I stay with them Friday night. I've never felt so in demand before!

So I accepted the offer from my aunts parents to slumber at their luxurious domicile, and to my surprise I pulled in their driveway only to find the 8 mile mark sign for the race was 200 ft from their driveway! How perfect is that? They were not only less than two miles from the start line, but their house was right along the course! That's what I call gettin lucky!

I picked up my bib and pretty cool looking tech shirt in downtown Northville then headed towards the start line. I saw a couple from my running group who were also sneaking in a run before attending a graduation party (all the cool kids do it!). After chatting with them for a few minutes I decided I had better start looking for Redhead and Spike. They spotted me in my bright green singlet and "funglasses" jogging around the parking lot. It was great to actually have time to chat with them before and after the race! Red informed me of her views on arranged dates, and we debated the existence of horses in Michigan with their friend Nichole.

While watching the 10k to start, Spike and I discussed the interesting attire that people wear to races; particularly women who wear long pants and or sleeves when its over 70 degrees and heading towards 80. Then I was alerted to the goldmine, that was the lady wearing jean shorts. Instead of Canadian tuxedo shorts I'm going to refer to them as the "Canadian Chafers".

The race started on a dog? track at Northville Downs and half mile round the track we headed out the streets of N'ville which quickly turned into Hillville. The first was definitely the steepest and longest but for the most part the rest of the course was one continuous roller. At least that's how it seemed.

I never got down to the pace I wanted to, and in fact my average was considerably slower than that of my recent half marathons so, though I enjoyed my little sabatical from running, I definitely need to get back into it!

I really enjoyed this race, the course, though hilly was nice, and the volunteers were great. For the most part it was well marked but there were a couple of spots that were slightly confusing. Especially the part where a group of us missed a turn and ran the wrong way for a quarter mile. Whoops.

I had a fun sprint race to the finish with some guy and due to the sharp left turn four feet from the finish line, we literally had to grab onto eachother to slow down so we didn't bust through the chute. We congratulated each other and laughed about it for a minute.

After Red and Spike finished we found a shady piece of turf to plop down on and share our tales of the race and talk about how much of Spikes mind he has actually lost so far while training for his 100 miler. (really I kid because I'm jealous)

After some bagels, a popsicle and some water it was time to head for the cars and part ways. It was a fun race and hanging out at my cousin's party was a lot of fun too. There were many a margarita and cerveza's drank, and no shortage of barbecue and brisket. All in all a great weekend, and Sunday was spent recovering from it all!

Hope you had a good weekend too!

You can checkout Redhead's recap from the race here!

Oh I almost forgot to tell you how I did!
35th overall ..... 8th in AG ...... 1:09:33

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fast Friends

So what do you do after running three marathons in 14 days? Well I don't know what you would do but I decided a week off from running was a great idea. I was right....not that you should be surprised by this. kidding!...or am I?

By the time Sunday morning rolled around I was totally itching to run. I hope that's why I was itching...? jk. Not only was I excited to get out and run because of my week off, I was also motivated by some awesome friends who kicked ass this weekend! What's this? You're unaware of said ass kicking? Well allow me to fill you in then. Grab a chair and a barely pop and I'll take you on a journey.....okay fine here it is.

This past weekend there was a three day stage race in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A group of runners from Kalamazoo went down there to tackle run three different mountains over the course of Friday through Sunday. 18 miles Friday, 22 on Saturday, and 20 on Sunday. I imagine covering those distances in three consecutive days by itself is challenging enough, let alone the fact that they're traversing mountains in the process. So of the group that went down from here were my friends Jonathon, Nicole, Andrew, and Ryan. A couple of the others from the area work at the local running store (I'm jealous) and this included Alex, a 22 year old I've met handful of times at the store and different events. Really nice kid and helped me out when I got my last pair of Kinvara's.

After Day one Alex was in second place overall, Jonathon and Andrew were fourth and fifth, and Ryan was holding strong in twelfth place. Nicole led the female race through mile 13 and was overtaken, finishing tenth in the female race on Friday. Our running group was all a buzz about how well they were doing. Whoever was blogging on the FB page for the race throughout the day gave them a shout out, saying there are some fast people from Kalamazoo! How cool is that!

Saturday's race, the longest of the three sounded pretty intense. I talked briefly to Jon via text and he said they weren't kidding when they said mountains. They had to hold onto a rope to get around some portions and had to power hike up a couple of climbs. This may not sound like much to you because you don't know Jonathan, but knowing how talented he is and seeing him pull away from me on uphills like he's sprinting, and I can assure you that if he had to hike up it, then I would have had to crawl!

The results of Day two were pretty similar, Alex staying strong in second, Jonathan on his heels in fourth, Andrew came in seventh and Ryan killing it again in twelfth. Nicole had a great day coming in fifth for the female race.

Talking to Jonathan Saturday night he said his legs were pretty shot but he'd be giving it his all. As if he would do anything other than that. I anxiously refreshed the facebook page all Sunday morning waiting for updates on the race. The first update I saw said that the overall leader had dropped out of the race after having to visit the ER Saturday night. I still haven't heard what happened to him other than the fact that he is okay now. This meant that the door was wide open for Alex and the rest of the Kzoo Crew to slide onto the podium, and that's exactly what they did! Jonathan took second place Sunday and Second overall, Alex finished right behind him in Sunday's race and first place overall! Ryan pulled off sixth place Sunday, his best finish of the weekend and this propelled him into ninth overall! Andrew's stellar ninth place Sunday helped land him in sixth place for the weekend! Nicole came through with another fifth place finish Sunday and that helped her pull into sixth place female for the weekend!

I'm so proud to know these amazing runners, and happy that I can call them friends, because as good of runners as they are, they're even better friends. It was a great weekend for Kalamazoo runners in Tennessee, clearly, with four guys in the top ten, including first and second place, and a two women in the top 13. Erin Lumbard, aslo of Kalamazoo finished 13th overall. I hear she's a pretty sweet runner, and though I've never met her, it wouldn't surprise me one bit.

So after reading all about the success of friends on the mountains this weekend I couldn't just hit the roads for a run. I had to be on the trails, and lucky enough, there is a weekly trail run group Sunday's at four that I've been wanting to attend. So I laced up the Cascadia's and met the Dirty Herd for five miles on the trails of Al Sabo. It was a great run, nothing too fast, just nice and easy paced to get back on the feet.

I'm running the North Country Trail 1/2 Marathon in August again so I'm going to need to start getting more trail miles in throughout the summer. Not a bad thing though if it stays as hot as it has been. The trails tend to be a little cooler than the streets.

This weekend I'll be in Northville for the Solstice Run 10 Miler and I'm excited for it. It's a new race for me and I'll hopefully get to see the Redhead and Spike for longer than a minute at the race!

I hope you also had good weekends and are thankful for those who inspire you to get out and on your feet!

I mentioned that Nicole was leading the womens race thru mile 13, and then lost the lead. Well I found out today a little more of what had happened. She was actually leading all the way through the last aid station but a wrong step sent her running into a tree! She hit the tree hard enough to break her water bottle and I guess there happened to be someone right there video taping so I'm waiting to see footage when it gets posted.

I also found out that the guy in the lead after day two went to the ER due to severe hydration and he is doing better now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Tantrum

If you don't care to read my rant and rave, feel free to turn back now. If you want to enjoy the show, I'll try and keep it interesting.

So what has sparked this slurry of words that are about to spew forth onto the page? I'm getting annoyed by people who don't run, questioning whether running is healthy or not. Okay, okay, I realize that running three marathons in 14 days was definitely borderline crazy, and could have gone horribly wrong at any moment. That being said, I feel like I took steps to tackle that craziness as safely as possible.
  • I cut back to only one other run during week
  • Maxed out at 37 week total miles
  • Listened to what my body was telling me (If I wasn't feeling good, I wouldn't have gone through with it)
  • Had a sufficient amount of base training
  • Weather (Other than Cleveland, heat wasn't an issue. If it had been forecasted for high temps in either of the other races, again, I would have slept in instead.)
Without "word-vomitting" like I tend to do I'll try and make it short. When asked about upcoming running plans, I mentioned that I was planning on running a couple of fall marathons. This sparked a whole debate about whether running, specifically running marathons, was healthy or not. They gave the typical arguments that I hear all the time; it's bad for your joints, it's hard on your heart, and something along the lines of...it's a waste of time.

I will say this; running isn't for everyone. Just like not everyone is meant to dunk a basketball, paint a mural, or find the cure for cancer. I do think that running is still pretty universal and almost everyone (baring the handicapped or otherwise physically unable), but that doesn't mean everyone's bodies are made to hold up to the pounding.  We must be aware of our own limitations and boundries.
For me running has become a big part of my lifestyle, it's become a big part of how I define myself, so when I get questioned about the sanity of running, it's almos like my sanity is in question. Can you imagine if I were telling people I were training for a 100 miler...*cough*Spike*cough* (just kidding Spike, it's totally on my to do list)

 I don't know how my body will be holding up when I'm 80, if I make it that far. I do know that I'm not going to look back with regret for not trying something when I had the chance. I'd rather be the guy in the retirement home who can't get out of bed, but has neverending memories and stories of adventures in my life, than the guy who played it safe and never truly got to experience the excitement of taking a chance.

There's a cliche quote I've heard, not sure who it's by, but it totally fits: "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

I'm gonna enjoy the hell out of this ride, I hope you do to!

*This doesn't mean I have complete lack of regard for my personal safety. I'll make the jump, but you bet your ass I looked at the landing spot first. Okay so there was a little bit of word vomit there.
Do people give you a hard time about running and question your sanity for doing it?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Have Shoes. Will Run.

Okay, I may have said lied a little when I said I'd tell you about the race the next day. I got a little busy at the end of the week. Thurdsay was a typical Thursday; work, class, dinner with friends. Friday followed with work and a trip down to Fort Wayne for some dinner, drinks, and a training run run Saturday morning. FW has a pretty cool trail system called the Greenway which seems to permeate the entire town. It was nice little trip with some great conversation, and for the first time in over a month, a relaxing, mid long weekend run, that I didn't have to stress about. At all. As much fun as racing has been, I needed this little aside so I could retain some mental health. I spent yesterday afternoon/night at a good friends for his first "Homebrew Festival", which means  a bunch of friends, food, and beer. It was a good end to the weekend, and pretty cool that all the beer was made by someone at the party. I brewed an Amber Ale with my dad a month ago for this party and I'm happy to say it turned out pretty well.

So here I am, on a day with no real plans, and only one goal. To tell you how last weekends race went. (about damn time too!)

I could tell as I lined up behind the starting line that it was a smaller race field that the past couple. The 6 AM start time was early, but kind of nice because the temps were still fairly cool. We got lucky this year weather wise, in other years the early start is necessary due to heat, and sometimes that isn't even enough.

I went into the race knowing that the odds of it going well probably weren't in my favor. I'd never pushed myself this hard before, and based on past experience, I would not have back to back successful marathons, let alone on back to back weekends. That being said, I decided to try and improve on my time from last Bayshore. I decided to go out quicker than I had the previous week, and if feeling okay at the half, keep dropping my time. I definitely went out quicker. About 15 seconds per mile quicker than I had planned for the first two. Oops. Still I was feeling okay, so I decided to maintain that pace and just go with the flow.

The first half of the race follows the half marathon course, which I ran last year, so I was familiar with all of the out and backs (which can get annoying!). The marathon course finally split off just before the half way point and headed back south of campus. I was starting to feel a little tired at this point but not bad, still well enough to keep going, and I was reciting my mantras in my head. I was alternating between what I have used before "It doesn't matter how fast you go at the beginning, if you don't carry it to the finish", and my new mantra that I am borrowing from Rob at Bayshore, "Just keep picking em' up and putting em' down, picking em' up, putting em' down".

The miles were starting to pile up and I could feel the two previous race weekends bearing down on me as the course turned alongside the St. Joseph River. I could see runners on the other side of the river and knew we would at some point be crossing it. The lead runner flew past me on his way back towards the finish, having already crossed the river and run out to the 18 mile mark and come back across the river.

Now I had crossed the river, and in doing so came upon the biggest surprise of the day. I was downwind from a runner who was a foot and a half off the trail, squatting, shorts half mast, and pinching off a loaf into the river. That's right, no waiting for a porta-pottie for this guy, and apparently no need of shit tickets either. That's right, no wipe. I imagine he was feeling a bit "raw" at the end of the race. Just like the honey badger, "he don't care, he don't give a shit".

I started counting runners on their return journey as they passed me so when I got to the turn around point I knew I was running right around 34th. I was happy with this assesment, but didn't know If I'd be able to hold on to it as I saw the packs or runners gaining on me after I made the turn. I was carrying a 7:15 average at this point, but that wouldn't last.

Miles 23 through 25 were a struggle to maintain an 8:00 pace and my mantra was the only thing keeping me moving forward. The marathon course merged back inline with the half, and 10k courses for the last mile or so. Those races started after the marathon so I was beginning to catch the super slow 10k'ers and the 1:40 half marathoners. I had to weave a little but not terribly and honestly it was nice to be passing people, because I had not done much of that out of the course for a while. Some quick math in my head told me that if I keep up at least 8 min pace for that last mile, I would have a new PR, again, and in my name this time! Now this was the only thing going through my head. I pulled on whatever energy still remained from that pre race donut and the four GU's consumed at 5 mile intervals.

I managed to get down to a 7:23 pace for the last mile, and 5:59 pace for the last .3! Just picking em' up and putting em' down!

I crossed the finish line in 3:11:51, a new PR, in my own name, on the field of my favorite football team, on a gorgeous day, and just a week after setting another PR. Complete bliss. I grabbed a couple cups of fluids, plopped down on the grass, removed my shoes and socks and waited for Dan to finish the 1/2 marathon. It wasn't long, maybe a minute and he joined me as we awaited the arrival of our friend Brenda.

I was surprisingly feeling better after this race than any othe marathon! Do they get easier everytime? Maybe, but probably not. I'm sure I will have more races that don't go as planned in the future, but for the time being I am going to enjoy the feelings of accomplishment from the past month. I've made some new friends in my running endeavors, celebrated personal achievements, and learned a lot about myself.

So what's next on my plan? I think it's time for a reset of sorts. I'm thinking of a 5k next weekend in town, and the 23rd I'm gonna take on a 10 miler in Northville, before heading to my cousins graduation party. Hopefully I'll get to see Spike and the Redhead at the race! Other than those two races I'm gonna take it easy for the month of June. Run when I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it. Just kind of recharge an regroup before starting my training for fall. What am I planning for the fall? Who knows! There are a couple of ideas floating around in this head of mine, but clearly my plans can change from one week to the next so it's anyones guess. I'd like to run Indy Monumental again, and I've told a friend that I would pace her there to a BQ so that one is pretty much locked in, but now I've got to find a race for me, because I too would like to achieve the coveted Boston Qualifier. 3:04:59 or bust. After Cleveland I wasn't sure it was possible. Two weeks and two marathons later, and I'm knocking on the door. Come hell or high water that door will open for me. You can count on it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Start with One Step, No Matter How Small..."


When I started my winter training cycle, I really wasn't sure what I would be training for. Specifically that is. I knew that I wanted to run the Borgess 1/2 marathon in early May so that I could gauge my progression over the past year. I figured I would fill in the calendar with a few more races, mostly 1/2 marathons and a few 5 and 10k's thrown in.  What I hadn't planned on was running a spring marathon. Looking back I'm not really sure why not. I Think mostly it had to do with not having one that I REALLY wanted to run. My last marathon (Indy Monumental) had gone well and I PR'd in what I consider my first good marathon. So why was I in no rush to schedule the Big Boy? I honestly can't come up with a solid answer. I still had the "want" to run another and the goal of qualifying for Boston, but it wasn't in the plan for this spring.

So hear I am in the first week of June, looking back at December, when I had nary a thought of running a spring marathon...and I didn't run A  marathon. Instead.....

 I've run 3 marathons

In 3 different states

In the past 3 weekends!

WHAAAAATTTT! If you would have told me this three weeks ago, even I wouldn't have believed you. So for those of you keeping track I just doubled the amount of marathons I've run, in the timespan of less than 15 days! But I've gotten ahead of myself. I told you about Cleveland, the pace run that made new friendships but the race ended horribly. Then there was Bayshore the PR that resides next to someone elses name. So what do you do after you PR in a marathon while running under someone else's registration? That's right you go out and try and do it under your own name.

I posted on FB asking friends for reccomendations on a June marathon. After Bayshore went as well as it had I figured I could take a couple weeks easy and then try and PR for me this time. Well the problem with June is the weather can get EFFING HOT! I definitely didn't need a repeat of Cleveland. Then someone mentioned that the weather forecast for the Sunburst Marathon was looking ideal. The only question was, could I run a third marathon in only 14 days, and if so did I even have a chance to come close to my PR? Only one way to find out.

I mulled it over for a couple of days but had to decide by Wednesday last week or else registration would be closed and the decision would have been made for me. Then Wednesday morning I got a text from my buddy Dan...."Hey Irish boy, you runnin Sunburst?" It was a sign. I had to at least try.

Racking up my third in three would have additional challenges you may not think of though. You see a couple of weeks ago I promised my sister that I would DD for her on Friday the 1st. The night before Sunburst. She's a school teacher and being that the first was the last day of teaching for the year, she wanted to go out with friends and celebrate. I wasn't going to go back on my word, but this meant that I would have to drive down to South Bend the morning of the race....which started at 6:00AM, meaning I had to leave around 3:30. Holy. Eff.

My one hope was that they would get smashed early on and be done by 10 at the latest. Hey a guy can hope can't he? So there we were at the third bar, at 10:30 and they were STILL ON THEIR THIRD BEERS! Are you kidding me!? Who takes 3.5 hours to drink 3 beers, when A) you're celebrating. B) You have nothing to do the next day. C) You don't have to drive!?!? It's beyond me how responsible they were behaving. My friends even stepped up to the plate to help me out. A round of Jack Daniels shots later and we were starting to see results. Finally after another slowly sipped beer they were ready to leave. At 11:30. Eff me.

By the time I was in bed and asleep it was close to 12:15. I had the alarm set for 3:20 and it came quickly. I had all my things ready the night before so all I had to do before rushing out the door was brush my teeth and put on clothes. Or put on clothes and then brush teeth. The order isn't really important. Especially at that ungodly hour.

So I'm dressed and heading out the door with all the necessary stuff....except for something to eat. Shit. It's way too early for anywhere other than gas stations to be open. I stopped at the first one before getting on the highway hoping that they might have some bananas or something. Well they had donuts. I do love me a donut, just not sure how that sugar dough bomb will sit in my stomach let alone, provide any nurishment. Screw it. one Glazed buttermilk donut and large coffee please. At least I'll get some stimulant from the caffeine.

The drive, thankfully was uneventful and was over soon enough. I had arrived at the College Football Hall of Fame to pickup my packet and ready myself for my third marathon in 14 days. And you'll hear all about it. Tomorrow. Haha! Who feels jipped right now? Show of hands ------ Sorry! You're going to have to wait it out. Unless you already know what happened. In that case count yourself lucky! Or just don't care. Either way.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bayshore Marathon or Bust!

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post and surprisingly A LOT has happened since I last regaled you with tales trudging through the streets of Cleveland. If you remember well enough, things went well in Cleveland up til the last mile...though some may tell you that mile 2 was a touch on the quick side of our goal pace. They would also be correct, but I like to leave room for improvement....lots of room.

So the plan after Cleveland was to relax for a bit, reset my training cycle and start adding in some speed work. That was the plan. That plan has since been shredded, burned, swept up, and tossed in the trash, for what, albeit even I would call crazy. The Thursday following CLE I had yet to run a single mile since my pacing fail, but early that morning I was presented with an opportunity to run another marathon... that upcoming Saturday! In defense of the case for my sanity, when I agreed to run, I thought I would be running a 1/2. Argument for the prosecution shows that even after I found out it was the full marathon, I still agreed to run. I mean c'mon, who could turn down a free race, with forcasted near perfect weather, a flat, out and back course with some gorgeous scenery? That's what I thought, and I didn't even tell you about the AFTER PARTY! Another argument to defend my sanity. I figured I had better get a short 5 miles in Thursday night just to make sure my legs still worked. I have a strange affinity for even numbers that occur by chance in my run details so imagine my excitement when I stopped my watch and looked at it to find this set of stats:
Just look at all those pretty zeros!
I worked all day Friday and departed right from work at 5 o'clock for Traverse City. Oh BTW my mom totally got the serious mother tone and look on her face when I told her I was going to run another marathon so soon... she's a worrier mother. Okay so thanks to shitty construction traffic the 3 hour drive took 5.5 hours and I arrived at my friends cottage at 10:30ish after a one sided argument with my gps that wanted to tell me I "had arrived at my destination" if by destination you mean middle of a road with fields on both sides of me, neither of which containing a cottage, and definitely no lake. Thank you technology. Turns out 64% of the roads up there are some itteration of lake____ fill in the blank and I choose the wrong one. Anywho moving on. I finally arrived, at my delicious baked sweet potatoe from Wendy's (yeah they have those now) and got settled in to my luxurious airmattress in the living room of a gorgeous cottage. No complaint here, I was so fortunate to have a big group of generous friends also running the race. Said friends also picked up my race packet so I had one less thing to worry about in the morning.

5AM came quickly and I devoured my french toast bagel from Panera (I think I plug that place enough to warrant a sponsorship any day now!) a banana, and started to hydrate. I was going into the race with hopes of redemption, thoughts of PR's and a goal of just finishing sans puke face! As forcasted the weather was perfect. Overcast skies, mid to low 50's at the start and I don't think it even hit 70 while I was running. Like I said. Perfect. The course was also just as advertised; beautiful. The lake was on my right on the way out, and mansions on my left.

This time I was going be sure to even out my water and electrolyte consumption so I didn't run into the same problem as CLE. I also adjusted my GU schedule to every 5 miles. I took it fairly easy for the first half, just trying to feel myself out (not as creepy as it sounds) and see how my body would react to running long again so soon. The last stretch before the turn around was probably the steepest hill on the course, naturally, but when I made the turn I felt energized! That is to say, I felt great and carried the speed I accrued on the downhill for the next few miles. My first half was 1:39:00.3... I know. Damn. So close to a perfect 1:39! haha anyway moving on from my apparent OCD. That was an average pace of 7:33 which if kept up would have given me a PR by 7 minutes. That thought wasn't going through my head though. Going through my head was seeing how hard I could push myself the second half and still hang on to the finish.

About a 1 mile after the turn I passed my buddy Brett who was still on his way out and he shouted that our friend Leslie was just up ahead of me. Good I now had a foreseeable goal. Catch Leslie and try like hell to hang on with her to the finish. It took me a couple of miles but before 18 I had finally caught her. An ironicaly similar situation to the Chicago Marathon last fall only it was me catching her this time. I asked her how she was doing, because after enough long runs together over the past year I could tell she seemed pretty worn. She confirmed my apprasial with a grunt. I asked her if she needed anything. Another grunt with a no attached. She also said I was looking good and to keep going. She probably just wanted me to stop asking questions! I was feeling good though so I carried on my merry way. I had been pushing at or below 7 minute miles for the most part since the turn.
It looks as though I'm pushing an imaginary lawn mower...

At mile 21 I passed our group of EPIC spectators to the welcome sounds of hoots and hollars. I love when I see my friends out on the course and the race is going well. It always gives me a boost of adrenaline and radiates through my body and propels me along! It would have been nice if that adrenaline had lasted all the way to the finish, but by mile 24 I was beginning to tire and could feel myself falling into a slow and haggard pace. Then I saw him as he began to pass me. The guy in vibrams. Suddenly I felt renewed vigor and my hatred of these foolish footies propelled me back down to a mid to low 7 minute pace, but it wouldn't last. Lucky for me part way into the last mile I saw Rob, the manager of the local running store walking back out onto the course (he had run the 1/2 marathon). Rob turned and began to run with me, and spoke words of encouragement, and helped me pick my pace back up. "Just keep pickin em' up and puttin em' down" Rob's mantra coupled with pointing out someone and saying "let's get that guy, or catch this lady" all the while gradually picking up the pace and before I knew it I felt like I was flying to the finish. As I neared the track where the finish line was a scant 150 yards away, Rob shouted a final message of encouragement and peeled off. There I was churning out my fastest pace of the day on seemingly the last bit of energy left. 100 yds. Closer and closer. Pick em up, put em down. 75 yds. pick em up, put em down. 50 yds. 25 yds......10 ft......New PR, by 14 minutes! IF ONLY IT WERE IN MY OWN NAME! AHHHH hahaha. No worries, I knew there would be another chance to PR as myself and not someone else.
My second half split was 1:35:06. I will say this much, negative splits for a marathon is definitely working well for me. I just need to figure out how slow to start and how fast I can finish.

3:13:24. A time that less than a week ago I would have been the first to tell you that I could not run. Cleveland left me feeling bitter about marathon running. Just like GR in 09' and again like Chicago in 11'.  I got my redemption for Chicago a month later in Indianapolis with a 3:27. Thankfully I left my feelings of anger with 26.2 on the course in CLE and instead turned them into fuel that would, along with the help of amazing friends and family, give me the drive and determination to once again conquer the beast that seems to beat me every other race.

At least it did......

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kodachrome Cleveland

Here's a few pictures from Cleveland.
Our Suite! Not too shabby Cleveland. Not too shabby indeed, though as one friend pointed out, it looks like the corner of the room is on fire....

View from our lounging quarters
Who doesn't love immature, pre-race, pacer hijinks?

Felt. Like. Death.

Notice the extremely efficient 1/4 inch stride taking place here.

Maybe the coolest medal I've earned. The guitar spins!
Don't ask about mile 2...but I did the math and my average pace through 25 miles was 8:20! Stupid puke session!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hot in Cleveland!

Marathon number four is in the books. It was a hot day for a 26.2 miles in Cleveland, it didn't go perfectly but I made it through. So now I can tell you about the great weekend I had.
Cleveland Marathon Pace Group. Anyone spot me?

Months ago my buddy Nick told me he was pacing the Cleveland Marathon and said I should see if I can get in on it too. He put me in touch with Kara, the pace group leader for the race. After exchanging a few emails with her, I was in for pacing the 3:40 group (8:24 pace).

Fast forward a few months and six of us piled into a van Saturday morning, five pacers; Nick, Jon, Mike, Brett, Nick's wife Andrea and myself. We arrived at the expo center about four hours later, picked up our packets and made our way to the pacers booth. We met some of the other pacers and collected our pace signs and shirts.

After getting our goodie bags and chatting with the pace team, we made our way through the expo. They had a booth there advertising avacodos and were giving out samples of a pineapple guacamole. It was PHENOMINAL! After I devoured five or six samples before the rest of my group finally managed to drag me away. You bet your ass I got the recipe card first!

The Expo wasn't in downtown for some reason so that was kind of lame, but we fought our way through the baseball game traffic and got to our hotel around 4 o'clock only to discover that our rooms weren't ready yet!?! Seriously? WTF. We found out later that every hotel was booked solid the whole weekend because a Casino just opened in downtown that week and apparently it's a big deal? Anyway Nick, Andrea and I were sharing a room and were happily surprised to find that we had a kickin suite! This place was pretty big and apparently we were the only pacers with such amenities! I guess the wait was worth it lol. This became command central for our Kzoo group and we spent our free time hanging out there.

We gourged ourselves at the pasta dinner at the Hyatt and then took a foot tour of downtown Cleveland before retiring for the evening.(As if we wouldn't see enough of it on Sunday) There was some very cool architecture downtown, I actually wish we had more time to explore.

They wanted us at the start coral by 5:45 so we arrived promptly at 6....whoops. NBD everyone was slow to arrive and we stood around for a while anyway. After taking a picture of the pace group we lined up and waited for the start. I met a lot of really nice runners who were looking to run with us and fielded questions as best as I could.

The race started and as always, there is a large number of people who don't line up according to pace that we had to bob and weave our way through in the first mile. My co-pacer Mike, whom I met the night before at dinner, did a great job of getting us through the herd.

The first few miles clicked off without problem and I was learning more about the people running with us, and trying to give any advice I could along the way.

Though it as nice and cool at the start, the sun was starting to heat things up quickly. I alternated water and powerade at every water station and gu'd around every 45 minutes. At mile 10 there was a hill that, from what I'm told was not in the course last year, and it was a pretty decent hill. Fairly steep and not short. I think this is where we started to drop people. Mike and I kept trucking along right on pace, if not a couple ticks early. We found ourselves having to back off a touch from time to time, but he had also said we wanted a slight cushion built in for the last few miles becuase they are hot!

The half marathon split off around mile 12 and this made negotiating water stops much easier with a group. We still had a dozen or so runners with us who had been from the start but I did start noticing a few people were missing that I had talked to earlier. Like Beth who said I was quickly loosing points by not only being named Jordan, but also by being a Michigander. She was nice enough though that I'll let it slide haha.

The sun was really starting to heat up by mile 20 and I was using my pace sign as a sunblock to help keep it off my face. It actually worked really well! At mile 21 we caught one of the 3:35 pacers who had dropped off pace. He told us one of the 3:30 pacers had dropped out completely. I was still feeling good at this point but could definitely tell the heat was going to be a factor in the final miles.

By mile 23 I don't think any of our pace team was still with us. A mile later I started to catch myself trailing from Mike, first 10 yards, then 20, then 50. It was all I could do to hang on. According to my Garmin as I crossed the 24 mile mark I was still on pace and actually a little ahead but I was beginning to eat into the cushion we had built in.

Mile 25 I was really starting to stiffen up and felt thirsty. I got to the last water station, downed a cup of powerade and half a cup of water and dumped the rest on my head. This felt better for all of 300 yards or so, until I started to get dizzy. I realized I would rather not be in the middle of the road if I were gonna pass out, so I made my way to the side, near a group of people. Any cushion I had built was lost and I plopped down in some shade beneath a tree. Every bit of me wanted to be continuing on, but I was getting even more woozy at this point. I tossed my pace sign in the trash and asked a spectator if they could flag down a medic. I was actually a little scared at this point. It wasn't the pain I felt in Chicago with cramping, I actually wasn't cramping at all, it was more of a disoriented, going down quick, narrow vision type of thing. I felt this way one other time, when I was in third grade and I passed out in class. Not good.

I saw someone had flagged down two medics on bikes and they were approaching me when I, now sitting, turned to my side and vomitted half on my leg and half on the sidewalk. Classy lol. The medics arrived at my side and waited for me to finish expelling any fluid left in my body. Asked me how I was doing and started checking my pulse. 110 the first time and then 64bpm onle a few minutes later. Of course as soon as I had tossed any fluid from my body my left leg began to cramp pretty good, but not nearly as severe as Chicago. after sitting for a few minutes and the medics gave me the "ok" to continue on I started out back onto the course.

I started walking as quickly as I could but slowed a bit when I started to realize how thirsty I was. There was a half mile or less left and soon I saw Mike jogging toward me. He had waited at the finish for me but when I didn't show up, he started back out onto the course to find me. I was so thankful for this and couldn't thank him enough! Luckily he had half a bottle of water with him, and gave it too me. Now that I had some water in me we started a slight jog for the last stretch and though I was totally dead leg, trotting along, I was glad to be jogging to the finish.

While jogging in with Mike he told me he finished on time so that was a relief. I was feeling pretty terrible about missing the time goal especially when I was that close to the finish before things blew up. He did his best to reassure me that it was all good. I saw Kara almost immediately after finishing and before I could say sorry for missing the time she was already asking me how I was feeling and if I was okay, and reassuring me that everything was good. I still feel bad for not hitting the target the last mile, but they made it a little more bearable.  Official finish time 4:10:12...

I found my friends who were pacing and we made our way back to the hotel to quickly shower and pack our things, since the hotel would not allow late check out and we had to be out by noon. This kinda sucked because I really wanted to just chill for a bit. Also Brett was pacing the 4:55 group, so he wouldn't even finish til noon so he had to pack his stuff before the race and shower via Wet Naps in the hotel lobby bathroom haha.

All in all it was a fun weekend with some great friends. Every part of me wishes I would have survived one more mile, but I can't do anything about that now and I've got to look forward to the next race, which I still haven't decided on yet. I'm open to suggestions. The race was done pretty well I think and I don't really have any complaints from a runners stand point. The medals are pretty bad ass too!

I'll post some pictures from the weekend later on this week when I get some more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pacers Get Their Own Potty and I Still Had to Pee!

Today's post is brought to you by my political science class that I'm procrastinating doing the reading for by blogging....enjoy!

In all this running I've done over the years, there are still plenty of things that are new  to me; like being an official pacer at a race. No longer am I a virgin to pacing though, last weekend I scuccessfully paced the 8:00 group for the 5/3 River Bank Run 25k. It was a lot of fun and I'm excited to follow it up with pacing the Cleveland Marathon this weekend!
Pace Crew!

I ventured north to Grand Rapids with a group of running friends from the EPIC Crew Saturday morning bright and early (5 am!!!!). There were actually a lot of us from Kzoo pacing this race so it was pretty cool. I think there were 8 of us including my buddy Nick who was my co-pacer in the 8 min group. It was funny because every other group had at least 3 pacers, most with 4. Our group was the only one with only 2 pacers, not because someone dropped, but that's all they planned for apparently. We told everyone that it was becauase we're just that good haha. Clearly with all this experience I've had from previous pacing gigs ;-) Speaking of previous experience, I went out last Wednesday and ran at an 8 min pace for 6 miles, just to practice and get used to slowing the pace down and I had no idea it would be that much work to slow down. (not trying to brag here but try it yourself, go out and run 45 seconds slower than you would on your LSD runs and you'll see just how tough it is to show restraint lol).

C'mon who wouldn't "guitar joust"...
We arrived and picked up our pacer shirts and then hung out in the pacer room near the start for almost an hour and this right here is worth pacing by itself. Why? you ask, because we had access to bathrooms that were just for us!!!!! That's right, no waiting in line for team flomax to pinch one off, you can actually go to the bathroom when you want/need to! Sheer bliss. We also had time to fool around with our pace signs: Pace sign guitar band, pace sign sword fight, pace sign canoe paddle, pace sign ax, and the list goes on. It was like the prop skit on Who's Line Is It Anyway. Awesomely fun and the fun didn't end there.
Lining up for the race, Tom, Nick and I

Nick and I kept the party going throughout the whole race. I really hope we didn't offend or annoy many people (I started to sing aloud the Bloodhound Gang song because it was stuck in my head, but stopped just short of the line "put your hand down my pants and I'll bet you'll feel nuts" thankfully I realized it was probably innapropriate...) We made fun of everything we could think of, cracked jokes and told stories of our plans for a beer mile and a chicken Mcgnugget ultra mile. I'll tell you about those later.
More people starting to line up

Why yes I did take photo at the 1/2 way point
About 5 miles in, after Nick had been saying all morning how he had to stop and pee during both of his last pacing gigs, it hit me. I had to pee. I decided that as soon as I saw the next porta-potty I was gonna book it ahead, drain, and then haul tail to catch back up. The plan worked great, except when I heard the group run past and could hear Nick offereing 20 bucks to anyone who would tip over the porta john I was in. I'm sure some of them considered it haha. It didn't take that long to rejoin the group and I made fun out of the sprint by sticking my arms out wide and acting like an airplane, complete with noises as I weaved in and out of people. I'm sure they thought I was missing a chromosome or something haha.

I seriously had so much fun during this run, I even said I may never race again and just pace everything! (I will definitely still race but I won't balk at an opportunity to pace a race here and there either) I took a couple pictures and a video on my phone mid run, and even tried calling my friend Dan who was pacing the 9 minute group, during the run. He didn't answer. Jerk.

Before the race Nick and I started talking about fun things we could do as we crossed the finish line and we really wanted to use the pace signs as paddles and act like we were canoeing across the finish, but unfortunately we abandoned the signs at the earliest we could because they were more like wind blocks than pace signs. We totally pussed out. Instead we went with a jumping high five. Nothing too exciting but I'm hoping there is at least a good picture of it.

The best part of pacing was standing in the finish chute area and having people come up to us, shake our hands and thank us for keeping them on pace and entertained. It was a pretty awesome feeling. Usually I'm just out there for myself so it felt nice to know I might have helped someone meet their goals.

So yeah it was a lot of fun, and like I said I'm pacing the Cleveland Marathon this weekend. It's gonna be HOT HOT HOT! I'm gonna be tackling a 3:40 on Sunday and hopefully it goes as well as it did last weekend. I've never been to Cleveland before and it will also be the first time I've raced in Ohio so I'll be able to check another state off my list!

I'll be looking forward to taking Memorial weekend off from racing, but I'm considering a 5k that Saturday so we'll see. It's been a busy month for racing and I think I could use a break. I'm thinking about shooting for a PR at the Charlevoix Marathon the end of June so I don't want to push it. We'll see how I feel after Sunday.

Hope all is well with you guys!
Hanging out with the guys in pacer "hall"
Yes I am fully aware how un-color-coordinated that outfit is.

Post race refreshment tent and look my beard is almost back!

I totally almost forgot to tell you one of the best parts of my weekend! I got a new pair of shoes! For free! The long awaited Saucony Kinvara 3's!!!!!!!! I've only run in them once, which was a "suicide pace" run and they felt great but I'll tell you about next time. Here they are, my precious!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Hometown Half

This past weekend was a pretty damn good one! The tale goes something like this.....

One year ago I ran my first half marathon, the 2011 Borgess Run for the Health of it. I'd run one marathon a couple years before (and it didn't go as planned) but I'd never run a half before. I'm backwards like that from time to time. My first half by all means was a success. I hit my time goal and felt great doing it. I had also begun to make many new friendships in the running community that I'm happy to say have grown ten fold since.

Fast forward to this year and I wanted to run the Borgess 1/2 again. I was really tempted to run the full Kalamazoo Marathon but I decided that I wanted to see just how much I had progressed in the past year. One thing is for sure, even though I have been a runner off and on since jr. high, the experience I've gained in the past 12 months is vastly more than I had before. Since my first half, I've run 2 marathons, 5 half marathons, and a handful of shorter races. I recently even won my first race ever, a local 5k!

So I wanted to know what I could do. How much have I grown, how much have I learned? Well I still aparently haven't learned to tie my shoes...but I'll get to that. Let's back up to Saturday shall we?

I volunteered to work the race expo for Saturday. I'd never volunteered at a race before so I was both excited and nervous going into it, but c'mon how much could I really screw up... They started me off passing out race bibs and shirts to pre-registered runners. This is when I finally got to briefly meet Redhead and Spike! Our pre planning wasn't so extensive. In fact we just decided to keep an eye out for eachother at the expo since they knew I'd be there. Problem is of course as soon as they got there I got hit with person after person wanting their darn bibs! Don't they realize I'm trying to meet people! Jeeze! j/k. So we had a quick hello, Red called me out on shaving my beard...I know, I know I should be whipped! Fear not though it's already begun to fill in nicely.
I got to pass out bibs for a quick bit before being moved over to the late registration table and spent the last 3 hours of my shift there. It was pretty cool and I actually had a lot of fun doing it!

After the expo I headed out to the EPIC Crew pasta party at a fellow runnerd's house in town. We stuffed our faces with carbs and chatted away about past and future races. There was even a man there from Sweden who was invited by Dave our host who had met him at previous marathons. Anders, the Swede is working on marathoning in all fifty states and this weekend he was going to check Michigan off his list. Pretty cool to have someone from across the pond at our humble little shin-dig!

Good Morning EPIC Crew!

The EPIC *ahem* Lady *cough* pacers...well most of them haha
Sunday morning rolled around bright and early. I met up with the rest of the crew at the race. A good number of EPIC members were pacing either the half or full marathons so we decided to meet outside the pacers room for our group shot. The women pacers had pink singlets and the men had orange...well mostly. They apparently ran out of medium mens singlets so rather than go up a size a few of the guys decided to show off their inner femininity and sported some lovely pink pacer singlets! It was rather funny to see them as you might imagine.
And we're off! Start of the 1/2 marathon, Joe is next to me in green, fellow EPIC runner Ryan is in red to Joe's left

I got a nice three mile warm up in with my friend Christen (my coed relay partner from last month) and we made it back to the start/finish area about five minutes before the gun. Perfect timing. We stripped off our warmups, pushed our way to the front of the pack and waited for the magic words. While standing there I had a sudden thought back to my last 1/2 marathon and how my shoe came untied in the first half mile. Not wanting this to happen again I decided to re-tie them then and there...worst. idea. ever. They had already made it 3 miles with no problem so I probably shouldn't eff with them...well I did, and a half mile into the race one came untied. again. grrr!!!! I was running along with my friend Joe and we had planned on sticking together since we had similar time goals in mind but when I was forced to stop and re-tie, a gap opened up between us and I never closed it.

The beginning of the race wasn't all bad though, I spotted Redhead on the side as she was cheering for me so that was awesome and then not long after that I realized that one of the guys right in front of me was my freshmen and sophomore year cross country coach! It was really good to see him and pretty cool to be running with him even if for a short bit after all these years!
Joe and I, stride for stride before the "incident" (Ryan is hiding behind the guy in red shorts)

After the stupid shoe lace debacle I tried pickin up my pace to make up lost time but I just never got all that comfortable. Not like at Martian, maybe it was the higher humidity, the quicker first miles or the couple hills, but I definitely didn't feel as fresh in this race. I managed to keep Joe in sight for the most part though and kept trucking along. Rounding one of the last corners I saw Red with camera in hand and an awesome sign at her feet. I dug for whatever energy I had left ( the steepest hill in the race is in the last 3/4 mile and I was feeling spent) and tried to drop some time for my last mile. I had to sprint my tail off in the final 50 meters to pass two guys and outlast another to the finish.

And going! haha

All in all it was a successful race, my time of 1:25:01 was an improvement from last year by over 7 minutes and within 30 seconds of my PR I set at Martian a couple of weeks ago. It also got me to 21st out of roughly 2300 people (my goal was top 25) and unexpectedly 3rd in my age group! So while I didn't feel all that special during the race, I surely felt great afterwards.
Joe and I decided they're coasters for shot glasses....

Pretty cool medals. I like the cutout runner

I wasn't the only EPIC member to have a great day, we had two women finish first and second in the women's marathon and quite a few placed in their age groups. Nicole, who won the women's race broke the course record by I think 6 minutes! It was a great day all around and I sure enjoyed my day off from work yesterday. I spent my time off finishing book 2 in the Hunger Games trilogy and went for an easy 4 mile recovery run with a couple buddies who also had the day off. A great weekend indeed.

Oh I also found time to go see The Avengers and I must say it was pretty damn AWESOME. For the longest time I wasn't sure it would be any good but I was happily proven wrong. I recommend it if you enjoyed the Iron Man movies.

This weekend I'll be pacing the 8:00 group at the Riverbank 25k in Grand Rapids, so if you're gonna be there let me know and come say hi! Check out the Pacer Profiles!

One last thing... remember Anders, the Swedish runner? Well aparently he writes an official blog for Runner's World Sweden (which I was previously unaware existed) and he posted a couple pictures of the EPIC Crew and talked about us a little in his most recent post which you can check out here! That's right EPIC is goin international!!! haha

Thanks to Red for this picture!

Caught between the shirtless!!!! And I got em both before the checkered flag!

Monday, April 30, 2012

"Looking good Billy Ray!" "Feeling good Louis!"

Rememeber the good ole days when Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd actually made good movies?

Someone was taking pictures at our group run this past Saturday and I was tagged in a couple on facebook tonight. My sister saw them and said one of them reminded her of the "ridiculously photogenic guy" photo that I'm sure you've all seen. Usually I look all kinds of pissed off and like I'm the only passenger on the struggle bus in running pictures so this was a surprise to me! So in light of this rare picture of me smiling while running, I wanna see your best "ridiculously photogenic running" photos and to make it even better, for comparison, your worst, most spent looking running photo!

First my worst!
Sunburst 11' It was HOT and I look like I'm 80!

And my best!
It's amazing what 40 degrees and an easy pace can do for ya! haha

So lets see em! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

EZ Memorial 5k

On the morning of April 19th, 2011 I was driving to work just like any other Tuesday morning, half awake and hoping my coffee would kick in before I arrive. That was until I heard a news update on the radio stating that a Kalamazoo Police Officer was shot and killed in the line of duty the night before. Immediately I no longer needed the caffeine to rouse my senses because I was shocked at what I had heard. This has never happened in Kalamazoo before and my shock quickly turned to fear as my best friend Bryan is an Officer with the department and he happens to work nights. In no time I was dialing his number and when he answered the phone after the second ring, I was never more happy to hear him say hello. We've been friends since joining the cross-country team together freshmen year, lived together for a bit and I was even the Best Man at his wedding. We've been through some crazy times together and I'm not ready for those times to end, especially not that way.

I was relieved to know that he was okay but I was still shaken and saddened by the news of the Officers death. It is a horrible tragedy. I've known many police officers in my life (not for the wrong reasons either! Thank you very much!lol) some have even been family. I am fully aware of the risk they take everyday that they go into work to provide a safe community for my family and I to live in.

Eric Zapata is the name of the Officer that died that night, while coming to the aid of a fellow officer. He made the ultimate sacrifice, trying to make a difference in this world, and I know I can't even begin to do enough to thank him.

It's been a year since that horrendous event took place and last week was filled with memorials and events honoring the life of EZ. One of these events was a 5k race that is to be an annual event to raise money for a scholarship fund for individuals wanting to pursue careers in law enforcement. The EZ Memorial Run 5k was held at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. When they first announced the race, I knew I wanted to run it.

It was a fairly flat course with a small rolling hill near the middle. There were roughly 550 participants in the run/walk and many more cheering people on. The start/finish line was flanked by two firetrucks with ladders extended overhead forming an A-frame with a massive American flag draped between the two. It was quite an impressive sight for sure.

I wanted to get a good warm up in especially because it was just barely 40 degrees. I've noticed that I really don't feel loose until I'm at least 3 miles into a run so I decided to jog the course once as my warm up, change shoes and head to the start. I noticed during my warm up that the first half mile was straight into a fairly significant head wind.

The race started and the first few guys took off like they were shot out of a cannon! I noticed myself really pushing trying to stay with them. There was one guy by himself up front, two right in front of me side by side and I realized that I was in the best spot. I was using the two as a wind block for that first stretch. Just past the half mile I moved into third along side a friend of mine who normally would kick my tail in a race, but has been going through some burnout/over training lately and was just coming off from a break. I was feeling good and had my eyes set on the guy in first so I started to pull away from my buddy and began chasing number one. I finally caught him at the mile mark and looked down at my watch to see my first split (5:41) right where I wanted to be!

I was feeling great at this point and was able to keep truckin along but he started to drop back pretty soon after I caught him. I had taken the lead and wasn't going to give it up for anything! I'd never been in the lead of a race like this before, especially not this far in. The route was an out and back that went around a loop at the half way point before sending you back toward the start/finish. When I came out of the loop I was running towards the rest of the people in the race who were still on their way out and this was AWESOME because people were literally cheering and clapping for me! For me! I've never experienced so many people wishing me well cheering me on! At one point I was almost completely overcome with joy. I think this may have been the only way I was able to hold my pace. The support from the other runners and spectators really carried me to the finish.
I forgot to mention that the race was being led by a few motorcycles, two police bikes and two from a local bike club, and it was pretty cool chasing them down. I kept trying to get closer to them and actually almost caught them at the end! haha They slowed down to turn off the course right before the finish and they slowed down so much that I was gaining on them muy rapido! I could see the race director waving his arms frantically at them to get moving so I didn't have to run around them to get to the finish. I thought it was funny and part of me totally wanted to pass them!

Sure, Sure, Unsure...
As I approached the line I thought about how this was the first race I'd ever win and all I could think about was.....what do I do!?! should I put my arms up in a fit of joy? lunge forward like it's neck and neck? Trip and fall and finish second!? Well at the last second I realized they had a tape stretched out for me to break so I went with arms up over my head. It seemed like the right thing to do, if not...who cares, I just won a race!!!!!!! I can do what ever I want with my stinkin arms!

Collecting my trophy (good hair day ha eh...)
Glass trophy = doesn't show up well in picture

My time ended up being a new PR of 17:53, the first time I've gone under 18 minutes since high school, and even then I only did it once!  I jogged back out a little ways to cheer on some friends who were still finishing and then hung out to collect my sweet trophy. I got messages on my phone and facebook from friends all day congratulating me. I was whole heartily filled with happiness and had a smile from ear to ear. I even made the news briefly as they showed a clip of me crossing the finish! Oh and on top of my sweet trophy, I also won a pair of Brooks shoes! Baller! Anybody have suggestions on which ones I should get?

I had an amazing day, and thank you to those of you who sent me congratulatory messages on facebook and daily mile. I also want to remind you of the reason for this race in the first place, and maybe next time you see an officer, you'll thank them for the job they do. I'm sure they don't hear it often enough and after all, they keep the streets safe that we love to run on.

Rest In Peace, Eric Zapata.