Monday, August 17, 2015

Starting Over, It's Never Too Late!!!

I write this at my heaviest since I started running on March 5, 2012.   I weighed close to 210 on that date so I haven't let myself go but I weigh 190 and I haven't been that heavy since April of that year.  I cut 20 lbs quickly because I said, enough is enough.  I ran 4 miles with my Uncle on Friday to see where I was at.  It was like I had ran a 20 mile training run the following day.  My legs were sore, it hurt to walk and that was it.  I enjoyed my last beers (other than tailgating when CU football season begins) and enjoyed my last Santiago's breakfast burrito and pour eating.  I am done.  Today I will begin with a fasting where I only drink water and zero calorie things.  The rest of the week will be a lot of vegetables and some low calorie fruits with some other occasional grilled chicken and low calorie menu items but I don't plan on exceeding 1500 calories.  After being at my healthiest in February 2013 and keeping that healthy range through most of 2013, I let myself go in 2014 but managed a marathon at just under 180 and really let it continued into 2015.  The transition to a new house and every excuse in the book has got old.  It's time to take control.  I am evidence you don't have to stay fat your entire life but also evidence you can get fat faster than you can get fit.  So, while I have a lot on my docket over the next few months, I figure until I pass my PE, I can at least get in some LIFE running and start doing three 4 mile runs a week and add a longer weekend run as I build up my fitness.  By the time the first tailgate rolls around for CU on September 12, 2015 my goal is to be 180 and have about 75 miles on my legs. 

I have set a goal of running the Colfax Marathon in May 2016 and would like to break 4 hours and maybe get down to that 3:45 I have shot for and narrowly missed in Marathon #1 back in February 2013.  I will increase training starting in November but I need to build a base and lose about 15 lbs before I even think of running half a marathon let alone a full.  Time to get my shit back in order.  Maybe you should do the same if you are in similar boat that I am rowing?!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's time to start RUNNING...

It has been many moon, months and other things since I posted.  I had ran my second marathon on Labor Day and while I loved it and had visions of another in June before my birthday, I have found things in life that have left me making excuses rather  than making the changes and doing the things to make them work.  Let's add some more honesty, I am around 180 and not the 160 I was on Labor Day and even though I spent most of the years between late 1999 through first third of 2012 weighing over 200 lbs, I feel like shit.  I am overweight and can feel it.  I feel like I did when I weighed 210 and told myself to get back to a "healthy" weight of 195.  Work, moving and life have been crazy, but I have neglected something that helped change my life and bring me happiness and the best MEPS (Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual) I had in my adult life: RUNNING.

Well, it's high fucking time I quit shitting on myself and in turn others because I am not as happy without running.  Okay, don't get me wrong, I run once, twice or three times a week here and there but that's not what keeps me fit and 4 mile runs aren't exactly enough to keep you in the  best shape, especially when you are addicted to Santiago's breakfast burritos and any sort of dessert when it is around.  What I can say is even with being overweight right now and the runs not being as easy, I love it every time I take those first dozen strides and last dozen strides.  There is a lot of beauty and areas of the suburbs or wherever you run when you are stuck in the same endless loop of life, but how'd it get decided to run another one?

My brother decided a few months ago  he wanted a second chance at a marathon and wanted us, being my Uncle Tim and I, to join him again. My Uncle Tim still needs for his 50 marathons in 50 states so he was definitely game.  I was definitely game and thought I'd immediately go running like crazy again, but instead I kept the same routine.  Being it is when it will be cooler in Charlotte and my brother wanted to run the full instead of the half, Thunder Road Marathon on November 15th in Charlotte was the decided marathon to run.  The excitement comes from getting to run another marathon with my brother and Uncle and doing so in 2014, since it looked bleak that I was going to have that opportunity.

I have about 19 weeks until then to train.  I figure the first 10 weeks can focus on losing the first fifteen pounds I need to shed quickly so I am not injuring myself with the extra weight and so I can run the marathon in the time I want.  I have the experience of two marathons (though from what I've seen even 100 marathons in, you still are learning) to help me train and a great coach/motivator in my Uncle to get me to my goal.  My goal is to run it in under four hours, but my true goal is to attack that 3:45 I had my eyes on.  I will have to stick to my plan and get in at least the mileage I have set forth to achieve this, so here is the training plan:

Andy's 2014 Thunder Road Charlotte
Date Wk Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total Weight Goals
7/7-7/13 19 4 0 4 4 0 0 6 18.0 180
7/14-7/20 18 4 0 4 4 4 0 8 24.0 178
7/21-7/27 17 4 0 5 4 4 0 10 27.0 176
7/28-8/3 16 4 0 5 4 5 0 12 30.0 174
8/4-8/10 15 4 0 6 4 5 0 13 32.0 172
8/11-8/17 14 4 0 6 4 5 0 16 35.0 170
8/18-8/24 13 4 0 6 4 5 0 18 37.0 169
8/25-8/31 12 4 0 6 4 5 0 20 39.0 168
9/1-9/7 11 5 0 7 4 5 0 18 39.0 167
9/8-9/14 10 5 0 7 4 5 0 22 43.0 165
9/15-9/21 9 5 0 8 4 5 18 6 46.0 164
9/22-9/28 8 6 0 8 4 0 13.1 0 31.1 163
9/29-10/5 7 6 4 9 4 0 15 5 43.0 162
10/6-10/12 6 8 0 10 4 6 0 18 46.0 161
10/13-10/19 5 8 0 11 5 5 0 22 51.0 160
10/20-10/26 4 6 0 8 4 5 0 20 43.0 158
10/27-11/2 3 5 0 6 4 5 0 16 36.0 157
11/3-11/9 2 5 0 5 3 5 0 12 30.0 158
11/10-11/16 1 3 0 3 4 3 0 26.2 39.2  

Okay now that I showed you that boring info, it's 700 miles roughly in 19 weeks.  That is very doable and to be honest, may need to be more.  Here are the action items to do it:
  1. Eat Better-Fruits and Veggies again.  Enjoy the 4th but use the weekend to recharge the body, get a couple of light runs in and cleanse the body with chia, water and healthy food.
  2. Actually run-This will mean waking up early or running late.  Both are things I've done, but I need to just lace 'em up
  3.  Find my MEPS again.  I can say that spiritually I feel much better since going to church at Flatirons more regularly and just have in the last couple years.  Still it heightens when I run.  Mentally, I need something to kick start my brain. It has not felt as sharp since running regularly.  Emotionally I am good at times but not happy with how I feel and on edge more.  Running cleans you out in many ways.  Physically, well we already know I gained 20 lbs so why would I want to talk about it?! *runs away screaming arms flailing*
  4. Take time for me again and not worry about work and other things in life.  When it comes to your health and happiness, you need to do some things for yourself even if it takes a few hours away from sleep or unfortunately family.
  5. Have FUN.
Running helps improve your life, and I know this first hand, so instead of making excuses I will do what I recommended to others and just go for a run and enjoy the joys running has.  I'll keep you (two or three readers) abreast of my prorgress and try to add some humor and good experiences and motiavation and other things.  Until then, I just feel like running.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting back on that horse...

I have had a difficult time finding the drive to start running again since my marathon.  It's like my next planned marathon (either Steamboat in June or Colfax in May) is so far away I keep making excuses.  I was dealing with an abdominal wall strain during the first few weeks and since then I get out for a run or two a week.  Each time it is less easy to run how I want.

I am walking a half marathon distance with my mom on Sunday.  It will take us some time but I think it's the perfect thing to just unwind for a few hours and recharge my batteries.  We make excuses and don't take care of ourselves too often.  I am feeling that.  I fortunately have watched my weight stay under 165 but I need to run to stay fit.

I have enjoyed time with my family.  October is a very bad month for us.  My father-in-law was lost two years ago and I talked about it HERE.  My wife and in-law family are a strong bunch of people but their rock will forever be gone and an early loss of life is never easy.  It has also been nice to enjoy a football season after spending last year very much wrapped around my love for running. 

So I will get back on that horse to running 25-50 miles a week but I have enjoyed my family time, CU and Broncos football, the circus, recharging the batteries and enjoying life.  A nice long walk with my mom will be a good start to getting on that running horse.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

ADT Marathon Recap, Reflections & What's Ahead...

Well, my goal of 3:45 came and went at Mile 17.5 under the bridge of Woodmen Road when the 3:45 pacer passed me as a cramp in my right calf completely stopped me in my tracks for about a minute and a half.  My finishing time was 3:55:42.  This is a full 8:34 slower than my first marathon at Myrtle Beach or roughly what I am supposed to run every mile at to achieve a 3:45 marathon.  I would like to say I am upset, but instead I went from down and dejected at Mile 18 and through about 23 miles when every mile crawled by to feeling pretty great about myself and the whole experience by the time I finished.  I cramped off and on from Mile 17.5 until about Mile 24.7 where the Jack Quinn's Running Club awaited at the final aid station.  I had my final wind kick up there and my calves completely relax finally.  But let's start the night before...

After a long day, the wife, Andi, and I arrived down in Monument in the dark after an exciting Colorado Buffaloes victory.  The Maps on the iPhone tried to get us completely lost but we managed to get to the Inn at Palmer Divide with a little help from my Aunt D and Uncle Tim.  (Note: This place could be a $200/night place with some remodeling to the bathrooms and updating the bedrooms, but like my Aunt said it had a nice resort feel to it with a small family ran feel to it.  It is only a $100/night and I wish we had a day or two more to enjoy the Springs area and stay there.  Well worth the money!!!)  Sophie was waiting in her PJs in the room with the Harrington Harriers in bed with "her" cousins Katee & Emily, which are actually my cousins but they are closer to Sophie's age than they are mine so I understand but I digress (as usual).  We quickly said good night and headed downstairs to get a quick bite and to get Sophie to bed.  I prepped for the race while Andi got to bed as well.  After about 45 minutes I was ready for the next morning which was now less than a 5 hour alarm away.  It didn't matter, I slept poorly and had to get up to go pee a couple times.  When the alarm went off at 3:50 a.m., I laid in bed for another 10-15 minutes and just relaxed.  I finally said no more delaying this and got up.  I ate rice cooked the day before in the bathroom on the floor so as not to wake the family.  Finally around 5:00 I couldn't wait any longer and I ventured out of the room to just relax a little.  Around 5:15 I headed back in the room to grab some more fluids and saw a nervous and excited runner.

Him and I headed up to the lobby and talked while he debated heading to the start at 5:15.  The young man's name was Stephen.  He was a recent college grad that was shooting for a 2:55 to ensure he gets in to Boston by being 10 minutes under his qualifying time.  I wish I had another hour to talk with Stephen.  He seemed like a real down to earth great person with a positive outlook on life.  He couldn't wait any longer and at 5:40 rushed to ensure his spot up front with the elite runners.  I later found out Stephen finished at 2:59:35.  I am hopeful he is able to get in when the qualifying time is opened to all runners that have qualified rather than just the 20 minutes and 10 minutes faster groups.

Around this time I headed up to see if my Aunt D or anyone was up from the Harrington group.  My Aunt D was sitting at the little lobby area near their room and I hung out with her the next 15 minutes talking about Sophie and her night.  Around 6 she decided to check on my Uncle and I hurried downstairs to do my last preparations and we were out of the hotel by 6:15.  A quick 3 minute drive got my Aunt Dee and I to the start and I did my traditional pee next to a bush to make sure I was good.  I felt much better physically than I did in my horrific Dog Days Half and felt like I had prepared my fueling much better and given myself plenty of times to relieve myself of the issues I had in July.  I stood at the start with my Aunt D and honestly felt like I was just going for a run.  Unlike the Myrtle Beach Marathon, I didn't feel nervous or focused on anything in particular, I was just going for your every day 26.2 mile run.

Before I get into my run and other things, I first have to give my thoughts on the marathon course, the people who put on this race and whatever else there is to add to it.  First, the course is absolutely gorgeous for a marathon.  The views of the Air Force Academy, the feel of being in the mountains though you really are only in what is the foothills of the Springs area are amazing.  It is a race that should only continue to gain popularity.  I wasn't fortunate enough to go to registration but I hear it was quick and easy and didn't require much hassle.  The aid stations have plenty of cups of Gatorade and Water stacked so even if you only manage to get one from a volunteer, grabbing a second one as I often did is of great help.  There was plenty of places they offered gel packs throughout and there was plenty of aid stations placed in perfect locations throughout.  The trail is well maintained even with heavy rainstorms in the area for much of the past month.  Mainly, again, the views of this course area amazing and the fact it is downhill but not leg destroying downhill is a reason I will run this race again!

And suddenly my run and the Harriers ran began with my Aunt and I wishing each other a good run (this without hearing the fact we had even started because of all the excitement and nerves from the group) and with the first mile of the ADT was a warm-up for anyone slower than the Top 20 runners because the trail around Palmer (Dry) Lake is far too narrow for nearly anything but to just go with whatever the group ahead of you is doing.  The 3:45 pacer was within eyesight and that was good enough for me.  No reason to run too hard the first mile even if it's a little slow.  When we started heading downhill and down the American Discovery Trail it started opening up a little and you had more than your shoulder width to run.  I ran it slow and so did the 3:45 pacer I noticed for the next couple miles. At around Mile 2.75 the sun shown over a ridge and hit me hard and I felt the warmth of my father-in-law rush through me and smiled brightly and knew it was a great day to go for a run with the weather, the pure beauty of that trail and I felt amazing.  Finally at Mile 3.75 I crushed the first little uphill of the course and was almost on the heels of the pacer.  After about a mile of just hanging with the 3:45 group, I kept my pace going and couldn't hear him chit chatting with the group once I got to about Mile 6.  Around Mile 6.5 I saw Andi, Sophie, Tim, Emily and Katee turning around to cheer me on before the checkpoint.  It was good to see them and I felt really good.  I kept churning when I knew I'd see them again at the relay transition point at 7.8 miles.  I gave Sophie a kiss and Andi a high-5 and felt amazing.  I knew I was on a good pace.  At 8.5 Miles you hit your first real hard hill up and I killed that hill while other marathoners walked it and looked a little dejected.  At Mile 9.5 a gentleman pulled up alongside of me and we ran along side one another for about a mile.  I asked him the time when we hit the 10 mile marker and we were at 1:25 which was right on pace.  He was a nice guy and we had light conversation about how beautiful certain aspects of the course were and before I know it some skinny tall bastard wearing orange is in my peripheral vision and I knew it had to be Tim Harrington!  I knew my Aunt had crushed it and they were far ahead of their pace and should easily beat 3:45.  Tim and I ran together for about a mile and a half. I felt great and he gave me some pointers. 

We saw a view similar to this but a little bit zoomed out.  This part of the trail has amazing ridges with drop offs of a hundred or more feet but is amazing.  At Mile 12 Tim bid me adieu and took off while I kept plodding along.  There was a lot of downhill and some uphill at this point where you went through the wooded areas.  I felt good when I exited the heavy treed around Mile 15.25 just before Ice Lake which looked like this.
At Mile 15.5 (didn't see no lake) I saw port-a-potties and felt like there was no better time than then to take a quick pee break.  I exited and saw the 3:45 pacer and went well he obviously picked up the pace!  I knew I had as well.  I took off and right at Mile 16 saw two young bucks right off the trailhead while I was all by myself.  It was an amazing site as they both looked into my eyes.  I felt great and then things started turning a little sour within minutes, I felt my leg twinge a little and a loss of energy.  It was very sudden.  That mile to where I'd see the family around relay transition point 2 just past the 17.1 mile mark was brutal but I kept going strong passing people on the uphill even feeling a little concerned with my pace and like I was slowing.  When I saw the family I tried to put on a strong face, but I knew cramps had kicked in.  I had just finished a gel and was just wanting to take leg cramp pills to keep myself from doing so if possible.  I think I rushed it and washed them down rather than taking them how I should have but still it was too late.  As soon as I got to the bottom of the hill and out of their site and under the bridge to Woodmen Road, my calf completely seized and would not let go (and where we started this blog post).  I just rubbed it and did what I could but it took a little to finally relax.  I walked it off about 15 seconds once I got comfy and started a slight jog.  The run until cramp began.  Right around Mile 18, I was on a pedestrian bridge that almost made me feel like I was going to pass out.  I thought I was starting to lose it but realized it was a very bouncy bridge and I hadn't lost my mind and I was fine.  This was a war on the mind for the next 4 miles.  All I could tell myself is get to your family at Goose Gossage Park at 22 miles and the last transition point to the relay.  That 4 miles seemed like a death march.  I would walk/run all the way there.  My family knew at this time I was not doing well.  They had their phones out to take pictures and I gave a 2 thumbs down but decided to give a good one as well.  It was good to see them but I was negative at this point.  I think I said I'm cramping like a bitch and just shaking my head.  My Aunt D really tried to pick me up and Andi, Sophie and Emily tried to as well.  I spent the next mile wondering how long I would take and if I got to Mile 23 I would be lucky.  Suddenly my attitude changed on an unexpected uphill I walked with a guy wearing a BEEF A great source of protein shirt (after reading Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run I was mocking this shirt because from my past year and a half I have found Beef to be an only if there is no other option meal) I had seen early on in the marathon and who had passed me off and on.  He was more concerned about his heart rate while I was just complaining about having cramps in my calves.  I suddenly got a new wind.  I was over next to Colorado College and while I couldn't see much of the college the run was more scenic and gorgeous and I knew I was doing better than most people out there.  At Mile 24, I walked up a little hill with a man from Orlando, FL.  He was humbled by the altitude and based off what other sea level people go through when they come here and I have read about, I felt for him.  He was struggling and just shooting to beat the 4-hour pacers.  I felt the same way and when I saw that last aid station and walked as I drank my last of fluid and electrolytes, my calves finally released. 

With right around a mile to go I saw my Uncle Tim had ran all the way back to check on how I was doing.  He had ran from Mile 7.8 to the finish with my cousins and had obviously hightailed uphill to check on me and "bring me home".  I think he was a little surprised to see me running as fast as I was.  I was back around marathon pace and suddenly my calves were completely fine.  I didn't think it would last so I went for broke until they would try to seize up again.  I have to tell you, I was probably showing off and ran about 30-45 seconds faster that last mile than I could have on my own.  I am grateful that he came back because it helped me catch 2 or 3 people within the last half a mile.  The temps were hot and this part is the ugliest part of the trail but it opens up to a beautiful view of America the Beautiful Park and this glorious structure with it's awesome water falling.  I wanted to be flying through the middle of that when I saw it.  I kicked it into a higher gear but the finish was far enough away I knew I might just stop and sit in the water but I kept going.

Then I got about 50 feet from the finish and saw my wife and daughter and cousins with my Aunt there and felt amazing.  I had kicked the last 1.5 miles ass and was finishing strong how I envisioned finishing a marathon.  The previous 7 miles of pain and doing between 9:30 and 10:30 miles didn't matter, just that I was tearing it up.  The best part was my wife and family had read my mind without me saying it and had Sophie ready to finish with me.  I grabbed Sophie's hand and we crossed the finish line with the clock showing 3:56:03. 
As you can see Sophie has much better form than I do and has fortunately got the Kunkel genetics in fast twitch muscle fibers.  The people at the finish were yelling to be careful.  What they didn't know is I would be lucky to keep up with this little speedster (fastest in her class by far)!!!

My eyes are closed because I almost lost it and began crying.  The emotion of having your family with you is something that I didn't realize how amazing it was until I crossed that finish line.  I didn't care I was over 10 minutes over my goal.  I cared that my wife and daughter were there to be a part of it, that I had beat 4 hours and the Harrington Harriers who have been some of my biggest supporters were there with my immediate family supporting me during the run.  It was a great experience.

I had a great experience in my first marathon finishing the LIFE challenge my Uncle and brother let me join in on and having my mom and brother's family there to support me.  But I was so close to my goal time, had never ran a marathon and it was more about the goal, the goal, the goal.  After that marathon, I ran this one as a long, tough run with great support along the way.  I had a goal, I still want that goal, but finishing and doing something you love and having your family be a part of something that is a challenge and great accomplishment just completing is a far more important than what the clock says and it made my day!

My day was made better when I was able to enjoy Taco Bell again for the first time in weeks and to get an email from my mom that had her time and distance for the Selena Half Marathon (I made that name up) that she had done the same day.  I am so proud of my mom.  She has went from being completely inactive and making work a priority over herself for far too long.  She has kicked butt fully committing herself to take care of her body and has lost around 20 lbs and can now go 13.1 miles.  She never thought it would be possible but I knew she could and am so glad she has changed her life.

So what's next?  I don't know.  I want to run a 3:45 full marathon and 1:50 half marathon before I turn 33 in June.  I would like to finally re-test for my Professional Engineers License in April.  Mainly, I'd like to help my wife get in better shape and happy with herself a little more.  She is a gorgeous woman to me that I love no matter what but I know she would be happier to be in better shape.  My goal is to be supportive in that role as a husband and as a coach to her.  What else is next?  Who knows but to have people like my wife, daughter, mom, brother & his family, Uncle & Aunt, my in-laws is what is most important for whatever does lie ahead down the road.  Either way, I know part of my life will always  be running because running is part of a tool to help you change your life like it has mine.  No matter how much you think you may hate it, starting slow and building up slowly you will see how much it can improve your life and help change you for the better.  Taking 30 minutes to 4 hours to go for a run your mind is allowed to open a lot and your happy endorphins will make you realize while it's not easy, it's rewarding for your MEPS (Touched more in on this post about improving yourself Mentally, Emotionally, Physically & Spiritually) .  Now if I can work on eliminating cussing and saying yes more to my wife instead of being the hard nosed person that has to argue the fact I am right all the time, even though we know the wife is always right. :)  Have a great day and enjoy your run!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

ADT Marathon Preview...

Alright, Marathon 2 is in my sights.  American Discovery Trail (ADT) Marathon on Labor Day is a point to point marathon from Monument to Colorado Springs (more precisely America the Beautiful Park).  Last year I ran the first leg of the relay for my Aunt D, because she was having serious knee issues.  I ran around an 8:00/mi average over my 7.8 mile leg and saw parts of the other 3 legs.  So, I will kind of do a  breakdown of the marathon by the relay legs. This is also where I will be seeing family, getting some goodies maybe and getting my time (I don't wear a watch when I run) so I will break down each segment (at the end I will break down the time goals of each leg):

Leg 1: The first leg of the relay is 7.8 miles and starts at Palmer Lake in Monument.  Palmer Lake was pretty much a dried up hole last year (hoping the rainy last month has helped it out this year), but it is a great start for the marathon, being as you run on a dirt trail that is flat for the first mile so you can get your legs warmed up rather than start burning them up running downhill right off the bat.  This part of the ADT trail is called the New Santa Fe Regional Trail.  It is all on loose gravel and downhill!  There is only one real uphill during this portion around Mile 3.75.  I tend to run my uphills with little effort of late and feel like the few people I am running close with will lose some ground here.  There are some other minor ups, but it's mostly steady downhill starting elevation of 7254 and drop to 6700.  This leg of the run is scenic and very open with tree-lined areas and subdivisions occasionally but some wide open space through much of it.  At the end of Leg 1, there is some up and downs.  This is where there is a sizeable uphill at the transition zone.

Leg 2: The second leg is 9.3 miles and this is probably the best part of the marathon in my opinion.  The scenes are amazing through this leg and most of it is running through Air Force Academy property.  While I only got to see the last mile of this leg waiting to run with my Uncle until he transitioned to my cousin (last year they had you trek up a mile from Woodmen Rd for a last minute change due to AFA rules) this area had a nice little uphill at Mile 16.5 and was heavily treed.  Based off just driving by this area of I-25 and touring the academy as a kid, this is one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado Springs and while I've never seen a game there, I have always loved the view of the stadium from the highway.  Still this leg has a max elevation of around 6800 and drops to around 6300 so there is a lot more steep downhills I've been told with some nice uphills to re-awaken the legs.  I am excited most for this leg because I will be able to relax and this is where I will probably be at my strongest.

Leg 3: The third leg is 4.9 miles and starts at Edmonson Trailhead.  This is where the loose gravel/dirt trail of the first two legs gives way to concrete paths the remainder of the marathon.  It appears this transition zone is closer to the Woodmen Rd exit and the trek is much shorter for the 3rd leg runner.  This is where we will finally cross I-25 to the east side around Nevada Ave.  We will also finally transition to the Pikes Peak Trail after the New Santa Fe ends.  This area nears I-25 and goes under quite a few main roads off I-25.  It is very industrial/commercial and I am sure this will be where I have to face the wall at some point.  I am hoping it is when I get closer to Goose Gossage Park and where I will have a cheering section in Andi, Sophie, cousin Emily and my Aunt D IF I am not 20 minutes behind my Uncle and cousin Katee.  If that is the case, they will have to wait at the finish for them 2 and I will have crashed big time.  About a 200 foot elevation drop from 6300 to 6100.

Leg 4: The fourth leg is the last 4.2 miles.  I will be looking left a lot or East, because to the right/West is I-25 and more businesses.  The other direction has some beautiful neighborhoods and tree lined area.  This is an area where I will get to see my Uncle Tim's alma mater in Colorado College.  Unfortunately the idiot administrators got rid of the football team my Uncle started 4 years on but I have many memories of Harrington in the secondary as a young kid.  I've also done some work to the Art museum near the campus and this will hopefully hold me over until I am gutting out the last Mile and a half into the open and BEAUTIFUL America the Beautiful Park.  I think I emphasize beautiful because I will be done at this point. Drop from 6100 to just under 6000.

Even with this knowledge of the course, there are a lot of questions running through my head I need to point out first:
  • Did I get enough miles in?
  • How will the warming day affect me?
  • Will my knee hold up that made me take a few months off from getting any significant mileage?
  • Will I cramp in my calves again like I did for Myrtle Beach the last 4+ miles? 
  • Am I going to have stomach or need to use restroom issues like I did for my half marathon in July?
  • How will my legs feel averaging 200 feet of downhill every 4 miles, 1280 total?  Will this cause cramping in other areas I haven't had issues with before?
  • Can I beat the Relay team of my Uncle Tim, Aunt D and Cousins Emily and Katee; aka the Harrington Harriers?
To answer some of these questions I have looked at what I did for Myrtle Beach and looked through all of the experiences of the past year of running when my mileage really increased from casual 20 miles a week to 30+.  So here are my answers
  • Did I get enough miles in?  I looked at Myrtle Beach training plan and while I didn't have a 50 week base built up to it, I noticed that I have ran as many miles as I did the last 15 weeks of that marathon.  Additionally, I have ran more days of 6+ mile runs than I did throughout my training for Myrtle Beach.
  • Warming Day?  Usually on Labor Day, the high is about 80 in Colorado Springs area and fortunately that wouldn't hit until later but it has got up to 90 for this race.  Last year my leg was perfect with clouds and 50s to low 60s temps.  By the time my cousin Katee had finished it was probably high 70s to low 80s.  I don't think heat will be an issue.  I have ran many long runs and intermediate runs in 90 degree temps.
  • Will my knee hold up? I had a scare actually yesterday when I felt soreness for the first time in this training cycle (after I had finally healed from Marathon #1).  My bothersome left knee was tight.  I ran 4 miles anyway, because I am a marathon runner and I must run.
  • Calf cramping? Not sure, but I believe I need to take gels high in Potassium and will take some quinine leg cramp medicine at the halfway point and Mile 18.  My calves cramped the last mile of the Dog Days Half.  I think this can be attributed to two things; 1. Dehydration from using the port-a-poo twice and 2. The OTC2.0 Injinji calf compression socks.  I like them and they felt good to wear after my long run but actually running in them restricted my calves too much.  I think if I am going to do compression gear on my calves, I will need to be sized for them and use sleeves instead. 
  • Stomach Issues? I am someone that needs to use the restroom regularly or too often probably.  Somehow the world came together for my full marathon that I didn't have to use the restroom at all during the race.  I ran a 20 miler a couple weeks ago and didn't have to go either.  There is hope.  I will be getting up 2.5 hours before the start and consume all chia, coffee and food within the first 45 minutes.  This was my biggest downfall for the half I believe.  I didn't give my body long enough to process and had a full sloshy stomach because of it.  Additionally, I will eat smart the night before.  I had too much red sauce and sugars the day before I believe.  I ate a ton the night before the marathon but gave myself adequate time to let it process the next morning.
  • Legs after going downhill 200 feet over every 4 miles on average?  I have ran a downhill half, GTIS in 2012 and ran training runs with a lot of downhill that average more than 200 feet in a 4-mile range.  I seem to do really well and not have leg issues later in the run.  Hope this stays a pattern.
  • The Harrington Harrier Relay vs Ventura solo? This is a competition because my Uncle and I are competitive.  I was almost dumb enough to bet him I could run within 30 minutes of his time for Myrtle Beach but being a rookie and learning from him, decided it was a bad idea.  We don't have a bet other than pride currently.  I am not sure on this either.  My Aunt D has been kicking ass this year since e-mailing me in March how she was going to get back to the person she wanted to.  She has got faster and thus made her leg of 7.8 miles a challenge to get a lead on her.  My Uncle Tim is a machine and even though he just ran a marathon this past weekend his legs will be pretty much normal on Labor Day and I will have at least a 1:30/mi disadvantage over his 9.3 mile leg.  My cousins are active and if their heads are in it, they could really just stay in front of me the whole time and I never catch up during their 4.9 and 4.2 mile legs.
I have this laid out as my plan Race Eve and Race Morning:

  • Around 10-12: Drop Sophie off with The Harrington's
  • Around 1: Arrive at Mile High Stadium... oops, Sports Authority Field and enjoy tailgate with Kunkel Family for next 3 hours awaiting the Buffs starting the Mike MacIntyre era of CU Buffs football with a win over the Lambs of CSU.  This is where while most every one else will be enjoying drinks and fattening foods, I will be consuming water and Gatorade constantly.  This I do not look forward to since the bathroom lines are long and I will need to use them often.
  • After game around 7:30 or 8:00: Head down to Monument and meet up with the Harrington's and Sophie!  I don't know whether I will try to sneak in a bowl of spaghetti for the game or if I will have to eat a late dinner, but I prefer to not eat after 8 so maybe Andi & I will stop for a quick dinner.  Will have to figure this out with her and discuss this with my Uncle since a late dinner may spell similar issues to what I had on my half.
  • 10 p.m:  Need to be in bed.  I will have all needed items out and ready to go for following morning.
  • 4:00 a.m: Wake up and be as quiet as possible.  Shower and consume liquids.  Yes, I like to shower before I make myself smell putrid and it wakes me up.  Get dressed quickly and head out to lobby of Inn at Palmer Divide where I will eat. Rice most likely since I am reading (thanks Scott Jurek for Eat and Run) and seeing the benefits of rice more and more.
  • 5:00 a.m.: Will have all liquids and food taken in.  I will watch some TV, sip some liquids and spend the next hour relaxing.  Relieve myself many times and hopefully fully by departure.
  • 6:10 a.m.: Head to start with Aunt D.  We will have to figure if we are going to be taking a separate car or if Tim will be dropping us off or what.  Consume another banana to help get more potassium in.  Drink some Gatorade.
  • 6:20 a.m.: Last minute port-a-potty/poo chance and be ready to go by 6:30.

Line up near 3:45 pacer and maybe talk to them a little.  I can't let a pacer dictate how I run but I will use him to determine how close or far away I am from my goal.  I am hoping they start off a little fast, so I can pass them before Leg 2.  I am excited for a 3:45 pacer.  Myrtle Beach had the 3:05, 3:35, 4:00 and then like every 30 minutes.  There is a large group between these areas and it's nice to see the ADT realizes this.  (Note: Since this is such a heavy BQ, I think maybe a 3:05 guy to go with their 3:30 and above would help but thanks for the 3:45 pacer for sure.)

I will run the first mile and a half at about 30-45 seconds slower than my marathon pace of 8:35/mi.  I will naturally be running a tad bit faster after that until the Relay Transition at Mi 7.8.  I am going to try to be smart about it and not completely destroy my legs and have lactic acid build-up and hose my chances.  I plan on being at about 1:07 at this time.  I believe my Aunt D will be around 1:11 assuming she runs 9 minute miles.  She may be faster, I am not sure.

After a hello and high five from the wife, kid and I am sure shit talk from my Uncle, I will have anywhere from a 2 minute lead to 5 minute lead over the Harrington Harriers.  Though I wish my Aunt the best run possible, I am hoping I have saved a lot in the tank and have closer to 5 minutes.  My Uncle Tim I have to assume will be running 7:00/mi.  I will be picking it up and hopefully gain ground on the downhills and stay around pace on the uphills.  I am assuming I run this leg around 8:00/mi.  I am assuming my Uncle passes me by Mile 10 if I only have a 2 minute lead and no later than Mile 13 if I have a 5 minute lead.  I am really hoping it's the halfway point so I know I only have 4 miles where I am losing ground to him by 75 seconds or so a mile.  This would put me at 2:22 and the Harrington Harriers at 2:16.

At this transition zone, I will try to take a gu or chew and maybe a leg cramp pill just to try to keep it from happening.  I will then become the hunter after being the hunted.  My cousin Emily is tall for a 13 year old and is a decent runner for her age.  I saw her gut out an 8:15/mi 5k with my Uncle.  My guess is she is a tad slower than this and closer to my marathon pace of 8:35.  I will be running just over 8:00 still at this time.  This would put me at 3:02ish with 4.2 to go.  I will take another gu, get some energy and positive vibes from the family and hopefully see a winded Emily because they are only 4 minutes ahead max and are at a 2:58. 

This is where I will answer a lot of questions.  Katee is shorter than her sister and 12.  She has gotten faster in the last year.  She ran under a 9:00/mi in the 5k we all did running on her own.  I assume with my Uncle and wanting to beat me, should be about 9:35/mi.  This would put the Harriers at around 3:38 and me at the same time.  I honestly would be happy to lose and get 3:45, but the competitive side makes me hope that the weather conditions are right and my legs hold up and I don't lose my pace at the end. 

I will eat a ton of the free food, put on my compression socks and be in misery until draft nigh.
Goal Time is 3:45, Time to Beat is probably 3:38 and I honestly think if I don't have any issues I can hit that but I could have issues galore and be lucky to break 4:00.  That is the power of the marathon, you can never be prepared for everything.