Race Report: Rock n Roll Philly Half (part 2)

 

We surged into a jog, crossed the timing mat and …

… we were off. Of course I hit the start on my runkeeper app. I was not the last to the start line but it was damn close. I remembered this from before. The start line was very similar to that of the Philly Marathon. I headed down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. With all the flags and stuff. It is real cool seeing the flags of the country then going by the Franklin Institute Science Museum. Because I was the back end of the start I had a lot of elbow room and that was cool. I was just trying hard not to get swept up in the start and go out to fast. That did not work as planned but it never does.

About a mile in I looked up and realized I had the whole fricking street to myself. You could see only runners on the road and that was it. It was awesome. I am so glad that cities are able to clear things out for events like this. It really encourages people to get off their ass and try something. At one point I was heading toward city hall and I saw my friend Donna up ahead of me. We had run together on many occasion in our training sessions with team. I figured I would try to catch up and run with her if I could. If was not soon after I picked up my pace to catch up that I realized that she may be out of my range. I decided to try a good surge to catch up and hope that it would not drain me. It was a risk because I was pretty set on just steady pace running with very little speed work. I caught up and it was real cool.

I must say, that with all the wonderful organization that the Rock n Roll series has, there was one thing that was lacking that would have been a real help. Clocks. It would have been nice to get some splits to work with. At least at the 5k, 10k and 15k mark. Instead there was really none. Sure I could have pulled my phone out and checked the Runkeeper App and eventually I did but it used to be pretty common to have a few timer clocks on the course of the big race like this. So there Donna and I were moving along the course. At one point, while on Market St., we passed by the block that Jefferson Hospital was on. I realized the irony that I would be there in just a few hours getting hooked up for some more anti-fungals. Still we moved on enjoying the city in this unique perspective.

Now my new pace has made for some certain changes that didn’t used to happen way back in the day. One is that I now carry water with me. I used to detest carrying bottles as much as I could but these days I have found a good belt that feels comfortable and works. No dehydrating for me. The other big changes is that pit stops are becoming a little more normal. It is not that I never had to stop at the plastic box before during a run but a new body is giving me new conditions to work with. So on my way back down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway I had to make a quick stop. At that point, I did check my Runkeeper App and it showed we were going fast. I had done it. I got swept up in the excitement and went out too fast. I felt good so maybe it would not be so bad. Things were actually going well. The bladder was now empty and I was still feeling okay. Then came the down hill.

We reached the Art Museum and went down into the Kelly Dr. Most people hate uphills and love downhills but I am opposite. I thrive on uphills because they are the challenge that gets me rocking. Sure they may kick my ass but I still like them. I can kind of put the legs into low gear to get up them. Downhills on the other hand are the Batman to my Joker. I just don’t have enough leg strength and control to go all out on them. So there is me putting on the brakes all the way down the hill. It is just a lot of stress in places that are not usually stressed. Sometimes I think I psyche myself out with them but still the suck. So I started down Kelly Dr with a small suckfest of downhill. It really wasn’t that bad but I could have done without it. The good part was Space found me and ran along side for about a quarter mile. It was fun.

I was at the base of the little hill that something very odd happened. I have had trouble with neuropathy in my feet where there is some numbness and pain. For the most part I had never felt the neuropathy while running. It is a type of euphoria that gets rid of the everyday pains. But with about 7 miles to go the my toes started to sting. The thing I was wondering if this would happen during some of my training but it did not so I figured it would not come up. After about a mile I was able to tune most of it out and it really did not affect my stride to much. So on I went with my teammate Donna running along with me.

So the course was going around Fairmount park by the river. I knew this course. I have run around it so many times I have lost count. It is relatively flat and quite honestly a pleasant place to run. It was relatively well shaded but the sun was coming up. Because of the foot issue and that fact that I had gotten off to a fast start I was starting to fade. The worst part about knowing the course so well is that you know just how long you have to go. In any case, a question came up that needed an answer.

Where is the effing bridge. We had to get to the Falls Bridge to cross over the river and head back to the finish line. Well, the thing is that no matter how many times I have run there I never can figure out which turn that effing bridge is after. Donna and I were really starting to help each other through each mile but our new mantra was becoming, where is that effing bridge. It was becoming kind of a comedy of errors. I would swear that it was right around next corner but I was wrong. My mind was totally effed with on that. The good news was I was right the last time I predicted it was around the last turn. The relief I felt when I saw that beautiful white painted steel. It was across it and 4 more miles to the finish.

What a tough 4 miles. My legs were turning to lead and of course the 4 miles back started with a downhill. So my thighs started burning as I put on the brakes for another quarter mile. It was quickly becoming a death march. I started to use some of the old tricks I had in the past. I started picking out signs and objects to make them little goals. It works real good. I know I will get to the finish but minor victories were the game. It was pure slug mode. Donna kept pushing me along as the miles went on by. It was weird we started noticing these signs for medical mile posts. There were more and more as we kept getting closer to the finish line. At first there was one a mile but by the time we were a mile from the finish they were like every 100 yards. What the hell. We people dropping off faster than the finish line could come.

It was about mile 11 when we saw Maria. One of our great TnT coaches. It was great. I was pretty well tapped and any encouragement that could come my way was greatly appreciated. We turned a corner and passed a mile marker and the rest of the Team coaching staff was right there with us. So much awesome to keep me going. That last mile was long but it was well shortened up by the help from those angels in green shirts.

Then there it was. We were just at the 13 mile marker. The finish line was in sight and the photographers were there for those wonderful finish line moments. Donna was still there with me so we locked hands and finished together. It was amazing. I was back. After all that shit with the cancer and losing my legs. I was back. And I had my good friend Donna their to share it with. Cancer be damned even though I later found out I had relapsed it didn’t matter. What an amazing experience with new friends and the family there as well. This is just the restart and I am on a roll. Just wait till next month with the Monster Mash Marathon. It’s on like Donkey Kong.

Race Report: Rock n Roll Philly Half (part 1)

 

I know this is a long time coming and I owed this quite a while ago but I tend to procrastinate with these things. At least I am getting it done. So here it is. I have been trying to figure out where to start. My training for this race has been quite a different experience. First off I trained with others. I am usually a loner out there. It is not that I don’t like running with other people. I love it but I tend to kind of go into my own world and that is cool as well. Moving on I was brought back from post recovery to race condition through the help from Team In Training (TnT). What a great organization and what an amazing group of people. I hope to never lose contact with them and look forward to more training and hanging out and making new friends as others join. Honestly, when I started at the “Kick off” I was having trouble running for more than about 15 minutes at a 16-17 min/mile pace.

 

Really, all the credit goes to my teammates, the coaches, mentors and staff for getting me ready for the starting line. I knew it would not be easy but all it takes is one step and then repeat. Over the summer the mileage grew and my pace settled in to about a 14min/mile. I could do faster for shorter distances but that is not the point. For those out there that remember me rocking out sub 9 minute miles might wonder what happened. A couple of things. When I went through some very rough patches I refused to eat and lost a lot of muscle mass. It will take a while to get my legs back and they will never be the same. Also, my left lung was the house of tumor for several months and like any crappy tenant they left a mess behind. Scar tissue and the like reduced much of that lung capacity. Less lung capacity means less energy flowing through the veins and a moderation of pace keeps things in check. Needless to say the tumors did not get their security deposit back.

 

So here I was, trained up and ready to go. It started Saturday morning where I gave a rambling mission moment talking about my man Timmy and his experience with TnT and my awesome friend and brother Abbey. Abbey is a survivor as well that inspired others with her TnT exploits and was an amazing resource when it happened to me. She was always there for me, even when I didn’t ask and she was unaware, her presence and share experience helped in those days I needed a little kick in the back of the mind. Well, I rambled then Space, the Psycho and I went for a nice walk at Fairmount Park. Afterwards we went over to the hospital for an infusion of anti-fungal that the doc had me on. I had spent that time sitting there writing and taking notes. We later checking into the hotel where the Team was staying and got ready for the Team dinner. The created an honor guard to the dinner that consisted of cheering, bell ringing and general noise making. It was awesome and loud. A nice dinner and then got to some business. Some words on the course and the plan in the morning and the like and then it came.

 

I had been asked to say a few words because they thought of me as an honored something. So there I was. Throughout I was told that I was an inspiration and the like. Really, I kind of thought I was just being me. Which is kind of an ass about things. I just could not give up on running it makes me happy. Instead of rambling I actually wrote something out which helped. I actually wanted to refocus some things. It was a my journey but really it was about those that where there for me from the beginning how the honor was mine to have had such heroes at my side the whole time. At points I choked up and perhaps the words on the sheet became blurry as my eyes may have teared up a little but I made it through and dinner was done. The girls and I said goodnight and it was off to the room for some shut eye.

 

Waking up at zero dark thirty, we made our way down to the lobby of the hotel and with coffee in hand I met with the Team and some pictures were taken. It was kind of fun walking in a group to the Team tent and the starting line. We hung out for a while before we headed for our coral. There were a bunch of first time racers and I could see their nervousness. I am old hat at this so I just kind of relaxed. It just another start line followed by just another finish line. Boy was I wrong. Because of my new pace I was relegated to the last coral so I had a while to think about what was going on. We walked and joked around wondering if the winners would cross the finish line before we started. We were only about 30 minutes behind the first starters and noone can get 13.1 miles in Philadelphia in 30 minutes not even in a car. It was about 25 meters from the start line when it hit. It was that holy shit moment. I had had a similar experience in a similar spot when I saw the finish line at the Philadelphia Marathon when I was about to break 4 hours for the first time. I was awestruck and a nervous wreck. I couldn’t believe I was where I was. I had made it. We had made it. Cancer be damned.

 

We surged into a jog, crossed the timing mat and …

A Year in the Life of…

It was on a Wednesday when I got the call.  I remember setting up the call with Space.  I had just gotten back to Tennessee the Sunday before and was making my way back into work.  I was still coughing a bunch and really did not have a lot of energy.  Still I was excited because they finally knew what was wrong.  A year ago on a Wednesday on 13 June 2012 my life changed.  No it was the day my new life started.  It was a year ago today that I got my diagnosis.

Dr. Joanne explained that I had classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and I was assured that it was a beatable and I would be kicking it in the ass.  It was so weird.  I had cancer and I was not sure how to take it.  I was relieved because I knew what it was that was wrong with me.  That piece of mind was not enough.  I am not sure which order I told everybody.  I knew my mother and my co-workers were told.  I waited till the Psycho had her birthday before I told her and she took it real well.  I do know that it was 4 days later when I told the world.  In any case, everybody had my back.  One comment of note was “ I can not type the stream of obscenities that just left my mouth”  Thanks for the support Mellissa.

Well with the new life started as a future survivor things took many a different course.  A new diagnosis was the first course correction then learning how to live with constant fatigue was a new thing.  A really new thing.  I had run two marathons in two days and felt more energetic afterwards.  I ran in Reading, PA and Vermont and never felt this kind of fatigue.  Then it crashed when I failed my first chemo regiment and a transplant was in order.  I moved back to the Philly area got a new doctor and started the next course correction.  One course correction almost went off of cliff where I spent a month in the hospital.  My running days were on hold and thus went my sanity.

I lost weight.  I lost a lot of weight.  I was about 230lbs in August.  By January I was 170lbs.  I was eating a 5000 calorie a day diet and was still loosing weight.  I bottomed out at around 165 and started slowly moving up and now at about 195lbs.  If you want to lose weight cancer and chemotherapy may work.  But there are better ways and I must say a well balanced version of Atkins works real well.  Just ask my Space.

I started running again.  It was awesome and it was not.  Really it was awesome.  I was much slower and my endurance was not there.  I had a new body to learn.  I am still learning it.  The best part is I will now spend some time working my core and upper body.  No more of this flabby arms and bulging gut.  I actually fit into some jerseys that I thought I would never fit into.

Way back in July my hair started falling out.  Actually about 11 years ago it started but this time the decision was to just shave it.  5 days later my goatee started falling and it went to.  In October, the head was neglected and crazy hair and a full beard covered my head.  I was passing for a lunatic vagrant which is common place in center city Philadelphia.  It came to a head and I went back to bald in February.  Now I look a little like Ming the Merciless.

It is now a year later.  I have had some ups and some downs.  Now I am higher than I have ever been.  I got a “some kind of remission.” from Doc Weis which is great.  I still have some recovery and my memory is shit from the treatments.  But just as I said I would do, I no we kicked the shit out of this cancer.  What a year.  I cannot wait for the following years.

A Day in Doubt: I turn 38

Well, today I turn thirty-eight. 38 is not really not one of those milestones that most think about as important. I have described old as when you double your age and can’t really guarantee you will still be alive. I tended to think of that age as 40 or 45. So I am not old. This day does mean that 38 years ago my mother met for the first time after 52 hours of labor and no pain killers. So hats off to you mom. I was a pain then and have been ever since.

I have shared this day with some greats in the past. May 19th is the Birthday of:
Malcolm X
Andre the Giant
Grace Jones
Pete Townsend
Joey Ramone
Peter Mayhew
Ferdinand Magellan
Effing Machete himself Danny Trejo
Ho Chi Minh
Dusty Hill

Just to name a few. There is something about us Taurus cusps that makes us, well, us. It is such a great day and I was born on a Monday.

Before I go on with looking back at the years past I must say that year 37 has been a damn good year. Sometimes I think people question my sanity but I reject your reality and substitute my own.

In the past I had dreaded my birthday. I really did not want to get older and I had some crappy birthdays. It was just not something to celebrate. Things changed a little on that front. I celebrated my 32nd, 33rd and 34th with marathons. Cleveland, Cleveland and Delaware. They were awesome and with that I looked more forward to my day of birth.

On this day last year things were not looking up but they weren’t looking down. On this day, today, thing have changed. 365 days have been filled with so many ups and downs, goods and bads, surprises and disappointments that we weren’t able to plan for anything outside of a couple of days ahead. All you have to do is look back at what I had written but I will try to sum it up because I am just that kind of cool guy.

Last year at this time we had already determined that I did not have Lung Cancer. Just before that we thought it was and that virtually a death sentence. I knew there would have to be some serious overtime to see today. We still didn’t know what it was and another biopsy procedure was on the way. Also, Space was furious with me by that point because I was being an asshole. It is true I can sometimes be unpleasant and bull-headed. But I am a Taurus. A couple of tests later I finally got the answer as to what was wrong with my lungs. It was the weirdest good news I have ever got. I had cancer and that was good because it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the easy cancer with the light chemo. Then it turned the good bad news to just bad news. It as not Hodgkin’s but a mix of Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called Grey Zone Lymphoma. This is a 1 in a Million case. I was Six Sigma!

Still I had a great Doc and the plan was still for me to kick the shit out of it. So my 38th year was going to be just fine. I was wrong of course. Chemo happened and it kind of sucked but really it was for the greater good. I knew this world could not make it without me and to top it off I still needed to see Breaking Dawn part II. When I just knew it was going to nothing but good news the bomb dropped and I had failed the chemo treatment and things looked worse than before. The battle was lost but the wars was still going my way. A harsher chemo and a transplant was in order. I started the harsher chemo and it kicked me in the ass so hard I was sneezing shoe strings. That was the first does.

Afterwards, the second dose of the harsher chemo came and everything went so far south that I fell out of the ecliptic. I got sick both in mind and body. Really, I think I went sane but people were possibly questioning my sanity. But my body was shutting down and I was orbiting that drain. It was so dark a time that I had given some serious thought to giving up. Perhaps for 30 seconds. Most it in a row. This is where thirty-eight was started to be a question.

The real shit hitting the fan came from my doctors mouth. Space and I were getting a little twitchy about making trips everyday to get infusions and some other stuff that we were unsure of. At the time, I was in real bad shape but we were totally ignorant of the situation. In the discussion with Doc Weis, we asked if I was going to be around to see the Psycho’s next swim season. He told us it was very unlikely. What a Mortal Kombat Fatality. 38 was looking like a pipe dream. We understood just how bad it looked. We had seen the PET scan and I was still a christmas tree and my lungs were in dire straits.

Good News!!!!!! The stuff that lit up in the PET scan was biopsied and turned out not to be cancerous. It was some form of vasculitus which is still serious. To top it off what was left in my lung was not growing and may have even been getting smaller. We were now on the path. I was getting stronger and starting to do stuff on my own. I was driving again and I was only having to go in for infusions 5 times a week. The better half of my brain had just visited and it was a blast. How long could all last.

104.5! No it was not the crappy radio station in philly that plays that emo stuff. That was my temperature when we visiting in Delaware. We booked it to the hospital and I had a playlist of high temps over the next 10 days. I felt fine and it was my most pleasant stay. They could find nothing that was causing the fevers and finally Doc Weis realized that a high temperature was not enough of a reason to keep me jailed up. That was two months ago.

A couple of weeks later it started to hit me. I was going to make it. We asked Weis about the outlook and he said it was much better. We asked about remission and he was willing to concede partial remission. The pills were going down easier. I have even started running again. Hells bells, I had signed up for two marathons including Disney’s Dopey Challenge.

Again I must reiterate, the 37th year has been and adventure and a blast. So here we are, it’s my Birthday and damn if I am not going to celebrate. No marathon this time. I wish I could but my body is still recovering. Instead I will be spending my day in NYC with my girls. Rae or I will tell you all about when it is all done. Then it is on to 39 or the first anniversary of my 38th birthday. I am not sure which one yet. I am sure that I may grow old but I will never grow up.  Besides, Its not the years left in your life but the life left in your years that count.

Fairmount Turkey Trot: Race Report

Here we are again.  It is Thanksgiving day and it is time to earn that Turkey.  Actually, I was roasting a chicken but still one of my favorite races of the fall.  Okay it is the only regular race of the fall but I love me some 5 mile Turkey Trot, the Fairmount Park Turkey Trot..  I woke up nice and early and got myself ready and made the trek all the way to Philly from Newark.  I got there and ambled my way to the registration table and I got a great surprise.  Rae who was spending the week with her grandparents ran up and tackled me with a big hug. 

Eitherway, I got registered and my kick ass tee shirt of which I was wearing last years.  Yes, that is how we show our status.  It is like wearing the shirt of th band that you are going to see.  We wear last years shirt or if your are at a marathon expo you wear some other marathon shirt.  That way people know you are no rookie.  Any who, I had decided to wear last years shirt even though I could have chosen from the previous three years last years seemed best.  Though last years shirt would have been okay to run in i decided to up the ante and put on a long sleeve technical shirt.  Not just any long sleeve technical shirt but my Goofy challenge shirt.  Yes I was feeling smug.  I may as well have been driving a hybrid. 

Well, it turns out that there was some construction on the usual route so there was a little re-route but nothing significant and it was not going to really affect the course that much.  So all of that was explained and I was getting ready.  There we were “Reluctantly Crouched at the Starting Line” and the horn is sounded and we were off and if felt good.  Okay, if felt a little tight but that is how all my races and runs go. 

I loosened up and I was moving.  Actually the weird part was I was not doing a lot of passing.  This may have been the first time in my return to running that I may have lined up just right.  I was moving and it was good.  Well, I figured I would get a pace adjustment as I passed the mile marker but for some reason I missed the clock.  I still don’t remember if there was one.  In the past there has bee but this time I just seemed to miss it.  I was just smoking past the back of the Please Touch Museum and then through the gate and turned right by the Japanese gardens and past the naked wrestlers.  Back out the gate and to the trail which had been re-paved since last year. 

I hit the home stretch turn and saw the finish line and Rae who took and awesome picture.  As I crossed the finish line I saw the clock and it said 19:20 something.  I was going to break 40 minutes again.  It would not be the first time but the first time since I got injured in ’08.  So I started to push a little harder.  I thought I would slow a little in the middle of the second lap.  It was actually starting to burn a little.  I had gotten some water that I needed and it was on.  As I passed what would have been the 3.5 mile mark I think I saw the clock that was supposed to be the 1 mile clock but it was not functioning.  I think.  Eitherway, it was really starting to burn and it felt even better.  As I rounded the Naked wrestlers again I knew this was special.  I hit the newly paved trail and though I was not really able to reel anybody in I was still kicking.

One turn to the left and home stretch it was.  I was moving and moving fast.  I saw the clock and it was just hitting 37 minutes.  Thats right.  I tried to push harder but I was already sprinting so more push was not more speed.  Then it happen I crossed the finish line and I crossed it at 37:37.  That’s right a 7:31 mile, a shattered PR and a big time negative split.

What a race and I was back.  I could not believe.  I have been going for the negative split thing but by a whole minute.  I cannot wait for next year.

Hokie Love in the Big Apple: NYC Marathon Race Report

I cannot believe it has been two  months since I ran the NYC marathon.  I would say that I have been remiss in my duties to report about a race a significant ast the NYC marathon but life is life and it has been busy.  I am sure my memory is a little fuzzy but at the same time I am sure details will come randomly as I composed this award worthy prose. 

Well, it all started on the Friday morning before the race and I decided that a good 7.5 mile technical trail run was in order.  It was awesome and amazing.  Now just earlier in the year I would have never even thought of running in the week before a marathon but lately I find that the itch is too much and there is no reason to fear a good jaunt.  Of course I went running on a ponds side trail after several weeks of rain.  So it was more an under water trail.  Eitherway, afterwards I cleaned up as much as I could, packed up, wrote a post or two, and got to trekking toward northern New Jersey.  I got to my Sisters’ place in Ramsey around 7 and waited for everybody to get home from work.  finally, my youngest sister came home and I found out that she was huge.

  Later I found that Ramsey, NJ is so far north that I could have sneezed and missed it all the way to Sufern, NY.  Either way, my sister Marie a NYC veteran and I discussed the plan for the getting me to the Expo.  She has already been so I was on my own.  It was okay, I am a big boy and can get around. 

Well, after being attacked by Marie’s one-eyed cat overnight.  Actually, he just cuddled next to me and demanded that I scratch his head for about 2 hours.  I got up around 6am put on the most awesome running shirt every (wait for it) and got a bus pass to the Port Authority.   From the Port authority walked to the expo.  I was almost derailed when I stumbled into the “America’s Got Talent” cattle call.  As much as I wanted to prove that I truly do sound like Lauren Hill and meet David Hasselhoff I figured that the country would have wait for my talents.

I found the Expo and it was fantastic.  It was the standard herd me to your designated number, color, sex, speed, hair color, and ,of course, shirt size sub group just to make sure you have the actual ability to run the race and receive a time when the day ends.  Eitherway, the expo was okay.  It was dominated by the Asics area but since they sponsored the joint they get a big display.  I test drove the Mizuno Wave Nirvanas and the new Saucony’s.  I was really disappointed when I found no Pearl Izumi set up.  What was even worse was not Laura Bars.  Despite these draw backs it was a lot of fun.  I got swag, tastes some nasty coconut water stuff, and the powerbar balls were awful.  As is mostly the case with these kind of things.  They may work at the energy thing but it is hit or miss about them being edible.  I did get a bunch of water and Gatorade and info on every marathon around the world.  I even found out about the Reykjavik Ultramarathon.  I am not sure if I can run 30+ on streets but I will find out.  The the best thing ever happened.  I went by the Runners World booth and bought the “Runners Rule Book” and performed a Slug sighting with Bart Yasso.

My day was made but I had to get something for Rae and then I picked up some arm warmers at a killer price.  That about did it.  I grabbed some more stuff and headed back to the Port Authority Bus station for the trip back to Ramsey.  While I waited I ran into the weirdest one footed pigeon.  It was freaking me out. 

Well, we fast forward to the night and preparations for the big day.  It is funny that several people had made great preparations to ensure that they got to bed very early like Laura at Absolut(ly) Fit and the Sun Runner.  I on the other hand sat down with my Sisters and their mother and an ate dinner and proceed to converse for several hours till the clock said 12:30.  At that point I actually attached my tag to the shoe, pinned my number to the Jersey and counted out my e-gels four times to make sure I had enough.  I set my alarm on my phone to play Cake’s “The Distance” at 0400.   I had an extra hour thanks to what I believe to be Congress’s only good act in the past 10 years when they changed daylight savings time to November 1.  I got up at O dark 30 and got ready.  Marie and I took the bus to the Port Authority to some random Subway to the Staten Island Ferry. 

I saw the statue of Liberty and once on Staten Island we bussed it to the next drop off and walked a couple of miles to the staging area.  I got pictures of me and the bridge and dropped off my bag and made my way to the start line.  It was all good and boy was the crowd big.

I heard the first wave start and saw people running across the bridge.  I was herded to the start line where each start was separated by lines of busses.  It was like the wall from Escape from New York.  This is where I made first mistake.  I put my foot up on the bus tire and retied my shoes.  On my second shoe the start gun went off.  Well, I set me clock on my phone and crossed the start line.  Honestly, for being the biggest race in the world the start seemed kind of small.  This was because I was I was on the bottom of the bridge where only one-third of the second wave starters were going.  It was kind of like a party as we weaved between each other.  The first mile went by without any trouble except I was still on the bridge.  The other part is that the clock had started with the first wave so I had to do math while running.  So Time minus 20 was oh this was easy.  If I finished at 4:20 on the clock I would have put on a 4 hour marathon.  Remember that.  Well, still things were going very well.  Just before I got off the bridge I remembered to remove my ear bud and heard the rumble from the top of the bridge.  I am glad I did not do this earlier because I would have run the record fastest two miles of my life.  It was almost scared me.  It was shortly after this point I got off the bridge and headed into Brooklyn where we met our first crowd.  It was a little sparse but a good crown none the less.  Actually before that I saw several “gentlemen” stopping at the base of the ramp from the bridge and emptied their bladders.

At that point I wondered if there was some study about how the bridges ramps tend to sink just a little every year and most around mid november than any other part of the year.  Either way, just after that the line of UPS trucks go by, that contained our bags of stuff to be transported to the finish line.  They honked and we waved.  Now I go back to the night before where my sister Marie warn me about 1st avenue in Manhattan and about how it seems to go on forever.  That is further along and she neglected to mention 4th avenue which happened to be about 80 miles long.  I mean we entered and that is where all the other starts joined together and then I understood the biggest race ever.  I thought I was crowded at Disney and at the Marine Corps Marathon.  It was a river of people that extended forever.  Here the crowd was amazing and here is where I started to get some hokie love.  I was of course wearing my Virginia Tech Bike Jersey and it is like bringing  my own personal support team.  People would see the VT and I would hear “Virginia Tech” and “Go Hokies.”  It is awesome.  But of course it was okay to a point when I realized that 4th avenue was never going to end.

In previous races I have tried to learn from each experience.  Sometimes I learn things but do not apply them.  Well, the one thing I have learned from my recent ultra running experience is that water and/or fuel is not something I need every mile.  I don’t train like that and I should not race like that.  So like at the slug events I have been to where there are 5k loops where I can rehydrate and fuel I decided would keep to that schedule and bypass the aid stations except for those on the 5k marks.  At least for the first half or 30k how ever I needed.  After that I knew that all bets were off and I would need to listen to my body more.  And I did.

Well, as the miles  went by and the crowd support was amazing and loud then the most deafening silence occurred when I entered the Williamsburg area Brooklyn, around mile 10, where there were spectators that had taken some sort of vow of silence.  I still to this day find it very hard to describe.

It was not long before I hit the halfway point and everything was going great.  I was feeling amazing and I hit the 13.1 mat on the Pulaski Bridge at 1:52.  Sure I was fast but it felt good and I was set up for a spectacular finish.  The next few miles went by pretty fast when I got to a spot just short of the 15 mile point and decided I would call to let people know where I was and the pace I was.  There were many including Rae and my sister Christina were out on course cheering Marie and I on.  This took several minutes because getting a call through was tough.  Well, with that taken care of I made the turn and there was the Queensboro bridge and I wished Queens behind.  The bridge was cool and though I had heard it was a hard incline to go up that was not the issued.  It was a bear of a down slope to come off of.  As I got toward that nasty downhill I heard this roar.  I must remind you that I am wearing an MP3 player but at this point I heard almost none of the music.  It was the 1st Ave crowd.  I had heard that the happy hour starts at 8am on Marathon Sunday and I believe it.  It was a wall of people lasting 3 miles.  I was amazing.  I could not believe the amount that this city has invested in the race.  I know now why they are proud of the event.  Unfortunately this is about the point where I was starting to fatigue real bad.  I was getting slow and the next few aid stations were walking points.  I was okay but I knew this was not going to get any easier.

I forgot to mention that I had passed the 4 hour and 3:45 pace groups earlier and it was on 1st Ave that the 3:45 passed me up.  That is no matter.  I was still moving strong. 

Well, right after that I found out that the NYC marathon was part trail run.  I hit the Willis Ave bridge and realized that it was a was technical trail that would better be known as the streets of the Bronx.  I mean honestly, it is a called civil engineering people.  All of my trail running experience kicked in and I started looking down to be sure of my footing and trudged on through till we got back to Manhattan. 

I came back down into Manhattan and the down hill off the Madison Ave bridge just about cramped my thighs up.  I was starting to get imbalanced but I was okay.  I just needed to adjust my pace and keep it going.  A few miles later and past Marcus Garvey Park is when the first of three 4 hour pace groups passed me up.  I figured I could keep up and i did for about a mile but I was spent.  The crowd again was getting big and I could see Central park on the Right. 

Hurt.

Pain.

Exhaustion.

Awesome. 

I turned into the park and again another down hill but I was feeling better.  The temperature was perfect and now I was feeling good.  I was still taking aid stations at walking pace but I knew it would not be long.  I was coming up on mile 25 and I knew I could kick mile 26s ass.  There it was 1.2 miles to go and I moved.  I got my water and started to push a little harder.  Then it happened I was halfway down Central Park South and I Zonked.  It was unbelievable, less than half a mile to go and I was just about done.   I finally got back to running and as I turned the corner I saw the finish line and I tried to pick up the pace but there was not much left.  Still I kicked.  I could see the clock it was counting at 4:19.  I pushed some more but the finish line was still not getting close enough.  I finally hit it and the last I saw was 4:20 and some change.   It was going to be close.  I was hoping for my first sub-4 marathon but I knew no matter what I had just PRd at the NY marathon.  It was amazing.  I found out later that I finished at 4:00:47.  So close and still awesome.

The next part was not as awesome.  I got my medal which rocked then I had the shuffle down the shoot to the UPS trucks to get our checked bags.  Also they handed us the bags with water and a macintosh apple (the worst textured, nastiest tasting apple ever made).  As we shuffled along I was starting to cramp up and cool down real fast.  I was not alone and there were plenty of medical personal to help us if needed.  I got to my UPS truck and it seems that they lost my bag.  After a long wait and some panic on my part I figured out that the bag that was turn backwards right in front of me was mine.  I grabbed it and moved on to my meet area where I caught up with Rae and Space.  I changed into a dry shirt and sweat shirt we started over to meet up with my sister Marie who had at that point just called me to tell me she finished.  We met up and got some barbecue before returning to NJ and then back down the Delaware later that night.

In the end, I love New York and the marathon is something I will do again.  I met got my Slug sighting with Bart Yasso, a PR, and a great tour of New York city.  Maybe next year.

Pond Side Trail Plus 2 Weeks of Rain Equals No More Trail

Well, I was off this morning to get one more run in before the NY Marathon and decided to go after the Lums Pond- Swamp Forest Trail.  It would be a nice soft run to take my mind of the shuffle-jog-shuffle of 42000 runners on Sunday.  Plus, I have run next to nothing this week.  So off I went.  Nothing big.  I have run this 7.5 mile trail plenty of times.  It is technical but not to bad.  Well, the first thing I noticed was that it was now fall and I had not memorized every turn and root.  No matter that is what trail shoes are for.  I was running along a good clip really enjoying myself when about a mile out I turned and saw that there was no longer any trail.   The pond was now in my way.  I was baffled.  I realized that it had rained 3 days every week for the past two weeks.  And I mean heavy rains.  I wasn’t sure about going through at that point because it was pretty deep so I just found a new way around.  Well, I figured I would see a little more of this but it shouldn’t be that bad.  Check out a map of the trails at Lums Pond.  Swamp Forest is the Yellow one.

LumsPond

Well, at one point I made a turn and 100m into it I could not find the trail, it was so flooded.  I had an alternative trail and turned to that.  Eventually, got to some higher ground and things were good for about a mile then I had no choice and just went through it.  Now I can say I ran through Lums Pond.

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