Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Myrtle Beach Marathon-More Reflections & First Run...

It has been 11 days since I ran the marathon, time has flown by.  I spent a week recovering, then have put off getting that first run in for many reasons but ones I wouldn't have let happen during my training.  They included the wife's company having a 50th year anniversary party, a foot of snow on Sunday and then cold weather and an iffy left knee.  Today, the sun was shining, I got in an hour early and said, no better time than the present.  My post run thoughts, ouch and a little ballsy there buddy.  I decided to run 5 miles.  My mind still over rules my body!  My knees were sore and legs heavy the last 1.5 miles, but I am glad to have done it.  It also allowed me to think and reflect even more on the marathon after thinking more about it the last few days.

So here are some more memories and thoughts from the marathon:
Mile 1-Why did my brother just run the same first mile that I did.
Mile 2-I knew I'd want to take my long sleeve off quickly.  Look at all these wussies with hats, gloves and multiple layers.
Mile 3-To poop or not to poop, how long will that be the question?
Mile 4-There's a pace group, how fast am I running to have caught the 3:35... oh shit, that's 4:00, oh well, better now than at the finish.  I'll beat 4:00, but 3:45 is probably out the door.
Mile 5-Where's my Uncle? (This as the fast 6:00-7:15/mi marathoners and half marathoners go flying by on the other side of the street)
Mile 6-There's my mom and brother's family, yeah I can give them my shirt.
Shortly after at 10K: That's slow but I've made up some time and I feel good.
Mile 7-Shut up Chatty Kathy's and who cares how Sarah is looking good, move!
Mile 8-Why are so many others breathing that hard, there's so much oxygen here?!
Mile 9-No one is running past you for marathon or half marathon, you must be flying.
Mile 10-"Only a 5k to go!" Oh you fucking wussy half marathoners, shut up!  I have a 10k and 10 mile still left.  (Keep in mind I felt strong but these are things you don't say next to a whole bunch of others that are running twice the distance you are and aren't even at the halfway point.
Mile 11-Bye-Bye Half Marathoners, oh this is peaceful and much more quiet and where is everybody.
Mile 12-I keep passing people, other than these two guys that keep run-walking.  I'll say hi.
Mile 13.1-Halfway there and holy shit, you are under pace and are close to what you ran your GTIS.  Way to go!
Mile 14-I rule, here's some more people to catch'
Mile 15-Oh the longest ocean view.  Awesome!  Why are there Canadians waving a flag here?
Mile 16-Damn you wind and oh finally a hill that these sea level people are struggling on, haha.
Mile 17-Yeah a downhill and that lady I just blew past still has 9 miles and she's cussing at herself for doing this, ouch!!!
Mile 18-This is a long turnaround point, where's my mom and brother's family and WTF was that?!?! (Calf cramp tweak)
Mile 19-Oh there's my family and I am still passing more people than are passing me.  I feel good!
At least a 1/3 mile to maybe a 1/2 from Mile 20.  The entire group of spectators.  You're almost there, only 6 miles to go!  Are you fucking kidding me?  You just went there!  You just broke the cardinal sin.  I don't see no 20 mile flag, do you?!  I have 20/10 vision still don't see it.  Have your ran 6 miles, let alone the 20 I still haven't reached.
After another 100 yards, if I didn't have to run another 10k and 1/4mile I would turn around and kick your asses.  I can barely see a flag now.
Mile 20-I am fucking tired of Powerade and damn it, another calf tweak.  Shit!  That's like the 4th one.  Oh well, it hasn't set.  Yes, only 6 miles to go now, can you go kick those peoples asses for telling me I had 6 miles to go a half mile ago?!
Mile 21-Oh a church group and another hill.  I can't stand these energy chews I took from my mom.  Hey, that guy on the bike better not say anything to me.  Oh he just asked that guy if he was okay instead.  Yep, that guy looks bad but at least he has that guy to watch over him. I'll take this last church persons gatorade.  Barely tasted it and blah, I thought that was gatorade and is it deer piss?!
Oooh, look the mile along the path.  Nice.  Peaceful and I passed those damn run/walkers for the 10th damn time.  You ain't beating me with that shit.
Mile 22-FUCK!  First full cramp.  Nice of that guy to ask if I was alright.  Oh shit I have to drink more Powerade!   I was going to skip it and just do water.  A GU or banana?  I could probably use it but I don't want to puke or choke right now.
Mile 23-Fuck again.  That's the 3rd cramp and more Powerade.  No!  Okay, yes. Gulp.
Mile 24-Ah both calves!!!  Man almost went down.  Holy shit I am still on pace if I run
Mile 25-I may vomit this Powerade.  My calves are shot.  A mile is nothing.  If I don't cramp, I am going to kick ass this mile because the run-walkers haven't passed me and most of the other people I've been running with I keep passing when I work my cramps out.

Every 1/4 mile to 1/8 mile after that.  Cramp.  Cramp. Cramp. 
Mile 25.9-Tall, big guy "You are right there.  Don't stop buddy!"  What I said "Yeah, I know but I keep freaking cramping!"  Him: "Oh I understand, been there!"  I didn't reply.  What I wanted to say, "Have you ever fucking had this much pain going through your legs?!  I ain't afraid of you biggun, I ran 26 miles, what's a few more minutes to kick your ass with just my arms?!" 

Mile 26: Fuck, the clock says 3:47.  Didn't make it but finish as strong as you can.  Cramp right as I make the turn!  Stretching it out against the wall.  A few people, "You're almost there, don't stop!"  You are kidding me right?!  You don't think I see the damn finish line 100 meters down there?!  Damn you people.
Mile 26.2: Just over a 3:47 with the clock showing around 3:48:30.  Damn it, I missed my goal.  Disappointment.

I look back at it my last 4 miles after thinking about it for a week and a half and after my first post marathon run and I say thank God for a strong brain with mental fortitude. I could have started walking, I could have let my bodies signals take over my mind but instead when I wasn't cramping I was still running a good pace.  Unfortunately the cramps became more prevelant as I continued and ate up that time, but I am proud and realize finishing in the Top 400 timewise in my first marathon and still having enough in the mind shows I busted my ass to get where I did and it was a huge success beyond just running a marathon, I did a GREAT job.  I was top 20% overall and top 1/3 of my age group.  That is nothing but good  things.

A few things I think about in general regarding this trip and my mindset:
  • I didn't know a marathon was 26.2 miles and what that bumper sticker meant when this challenge started.  It is funny how most people don't know a marathon is 26.2 miles but I knew less than they did about it, so I can't blame them for not knowing.
  • I didn't see a damn 4-ton elephant at the start?!
  • It was awesome sharing this experience with my Uncle, Brother, his family and my mom.  I really hope Andi, Sophie, my Kunkel family and other members of my Ventura/Harrington family get to see my next one.
  • We went into a store called Run For Your Life.  It is a catchy freaking phrase and I should have bought a shirt from there.  It is a great play on words and I have learned that this is so true.  Not just for a zombie apocolypse, but to be healthy, to be active, to be happy, to gain some peace of mind, to find some peace with God, to solve issues in my life, to LIVE. 
  • I learned that my calves need some TLC.  Some more stretchg, sodium, electrolytes and either Tommie Copper's or some other Compression Calve Socks will be worn by me come my next marathon.
  • I want to keep running marathons.  I want to get better and I know what it takes to break 3:45 and it's not much more than what I have done but I will continue my OCD ways and try to beat that time.  Still discussing my next marathon with the family, but a June 2nd marathon in the mountains where my Uncle first qualified for Boston sounds like a good idea one week before my 32nd birthday seems like good timing.
  • The term CAN'T wasn't okay when I coached and is not okay as a father or a husband.  I taught myself and hopefully someone who may come across this that you can be healthy, you can choose a better life and you can become a better person.  If I can run a marathon after not being able to run a mile less than a year ago, you can as well.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Running has changed my LIFE...

There is no doubt the impact running has had on me in the past year.  So I chose to wait about a week and add some reflections to the marathon and explain this past year.

We (me and the two others that read this) know the story of how it started but for those who don't here's the story... March 4, 2012 was the date my brother was looking for a change to his life.  He was gaining weight, was living a sedentary life and needed a change after being married the day before.  I was oblivious to the discussion he was having with my Uncle, talking with my Grandma and sister-in-law while that was going on, and then it was announced they were doing a marathon together.  I instantly jumped on board and it became serious.  Here is me that weekend, once again weighing close to 210.

Yes I would like another soda!
Alex couldn't even get his arms around me!
My usual diet for a week leading up to this wedding was, chocolate, soda, fast food, heavy dinners high in calories, low in quality ingredients.  I had allowed a very difficult year of my life and especially six months after the loss of my father-in-law to go from 188 to 210.  My eating habits, sedentary lifestyle and difficulties with coping with the issues in my life were all a recipe for things to get worse.  The LIFE challenge changed that.  It sparked the OCD, hard-working, competitive drive that I have always had.

The biggest reason I chose to never work out was excuses.  I wasn't that much overweight.  I didn't look that bad.  I wasn't that far from being at my ideal weight of 185.  I could just watch what I ate and I'd be back under 200 and close to 190 again in no time.  Yes, I seriously believed I looked like I do today at 190 and that was a healthy weight.  I coached football for two years and wrestling for five years after that.  During those seasons I would lose 10-15 lbs from some minor activity but my dietary choices were awful and kept me from really making an impact on my weight.  I would consume 4-5 sodas a day at tourneys and say it was to reward myself for not drinking them during the week.

I rode the wave of 185-215 since graduating high school in 1999.  I actually got up to 225 after my freshman year in college but within a few months was back at 190 when I dated a vegan and decided I would go on a 3-month vegetarian diet (I couldn't give up eggs and the other animal products veggie heads are allowed to eat).  The lowest I got was 185 when I coached my first year and had to be on the mat daily.

So when I started the goal last March, it was to get back to my life goal weight of 180, maybe 175.  My Uncle sat there and said if you guys take this seriously, Andy you will weigh closer to 160.  160?!  I hadn't weighed that since being a junior in HS in 1998.  I laughed at him and said, 175 would be lucky!  Then I look at my first 5k and 10k photos from May when I was between 175 and 180 and go, wow, that guy still had a ton of work to do.
 I felt great at this time.  I had learned to quit making excuses and truly embraced dietary changes and making running a part of my LIFE.  My wife tried to get me to run for years.  I always made excuses that I did not enjoy running.  I would take about 23-25 minutes to do 2 miles andthat time was better served watching a show I liked or doing something else that required no activity.  Plus, I enjoyed sports where running was something you only did because it was part of practice.  I now wish I had realized what a benefit it would have been to run 3-6 miles regularly as a wrestler.  6 minutes is short but a wrestling match is equivalent to any 3 mile run I have ever done.

When I first began running, I couldn't walk/jog 2.5 miles in 45 minutes.  If I am in a race now, I can do at least miles to a 10k in that time.  I remember the first time I ran 4 miles, I wanted someone to pick me up after 3 miles.  I got about a month into it and the best I could do was 10:00/mi.  I figured that a good goal would be to sustain just under that for 26.2 miles and finish my marathon in 4:15-4:30.  Then I ran my 5k and the Bolder Boulder  couple months later and I realized that I was faster than that and now saw 9:00/mi.  After that, it was a goal of getting under 170 for the GTIS Half Marathon and getting under a 2 hour half and maybe the confidence to do a 4:00 marathon.  I was then in a zone runnnig wise and finished with 3 runs over 12 miles leading up to it.  My goal time went to 1:55 for my half but I would have been okay with under 2:00.  1:51:52!!! 

Oh snap.  I felt good and sought my next race and doing a marathon before our marathon.  I was going crazy.  I needed another race, I needed a challenge.  My Uncle Tim helped me put on the breaks but he also knew I could run a marathon before that date.  Fortunately we waited.  For a few weeks, I did what my Uncle calls life running where you run 4 days a week with your 3 shorter 4 mile runs and then a 9-12 mile weekend run.  I needed more and my Uncle and I formulated a plan to increase the mileage quicker where I'd hit a few more 20 mile runs in my training.  I battled some ITBS and foot pain during my training for about a month but the increased mileage gave me a lot of confidence and my goal had gone from doing a marathon to a 3:45.  It didn't happen (3:47:08) as my race report blog stated, but looking back, I ran a smart race starting with a slow 10k and it left a lot in the tank and I was ahead of my 3:45 pace by about 30 seconds to a minute until the wheels started coming off the last 4 miles with my calf cramping issues.  I think back and a couple months ago, I may have said I can't deal with this pain and quit or I will just walk it in so I don't have to cramp up.  Instead I never stopped running during the race.  The only time I ever did was to rub out a cramp.  There was no doubt I was a marathoner and I was going to push through and prove it.  And here I am almost a year later with my Uncle and brother marathon weekend:

So, I now realize I have a ton to be proud of.  I weigh under 160.  I am healthier than I have every been and in better shape than ever.  I now crave fruits over fats.  I am now living healthy like I had promised myself I would for my daughter Sophie before she was born.  It took a lot of will power, direction from my running mentor/coach/Uncle and it took my drive.  If you had asked me if I would run a marathon one year ago today, I'd be making fun of you and joking around.  If you had asked me how long it took, I would say too long.  If you asked me how many miles, I'd say too many.  And if you asked me what was healthy for me, I'd say 180!  I read so many articles, so many blogs, so many stories and watched and listened to so many people's opinions on an average American diet, the marathon, BMI, running, etc. and I soaked it up like a sponge but sweat out all the fat from what I gained in knowledge.  The internet is a great thing and helped me realize I could do this and didn't have to sell myself short and my ideas were warped from years of being overweight and being unhealthy.

I have ran over 1250 miles this year.  I have ate more fruit in the last year than I have probably ate in my life.  I have consumed maybe a dozen sodas in that year and that may be a high number.  I would do that in a week at times.  The thought of McDonald's Dollar Menu does not sound appealing at all. I would eat there as many as 4x a week saying $3.25 is a cheap lunch and it's not that bad.  50 lbs are gone from me and I don't plan on letting many of those come back other than with adding some muscle.  I am healthy, I am happy.  I have plenty to work on individually, with my family as a husband and father and I know that but running has helped get me off on the right foot to realize I can achieve more and be better in all aspects of life.

So if you come across this for the first time and/or are looking for something to change your life, start running.  It will start off with walking like I did.  It will turn into a jog/walk.  Then a continuous jog that becomes a run.  Running is not sprinting, it is a jog that you do for many miles and call running because going for a jog is a mile or two.  You don't jog 26.2 miles!  The benefit of running is evident.  The myths are ridiculous.  Yes, you will have pain in your knees at times.  Yes your feet and other areas of your legs will hurt.  Yes it is a lot of impact.  But guess what, carrying 50 extra lbs and filling your body full of bad things and sitting on your rear end is far worse for your long-term health.  I have seen the difference.  And I'd rather get crap for being too skinny than being overweight because I am a strong person mentally and physically (yes, even with 50 lbs of fat that looked like muscle on my arms gone) and I know it is better for me and that person looks at me like I used to at runners and people who lost a lot of weight getting healthy, the wrong way.

I sit here today and am ready for a run.  Tomorrow I am going to test the legs out.  I also wonder what's going to be my next marathon?  I know I will have to adjust my mileage, get my lazy butt out of bed and not miss the short runs I had missed at times the last couple months of marathon training. The next marathon will be soon I am sure but a couple of my goals are a 3:45 marathon before I turn 32 in June and a 3:30 before I turn 33 in 2014.  After I talk them over with the family, I'll let you know what they are.  Until then, happy running.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I am a Marathoner!!! Myrtle Beach Marathon Recap...

This is long, so grab your coffee or take a nap in between paragraphs.  I hope you enjoy at least mildly.  I was going to make this a complete vacation, day by day recap, but I got bored reading it so instead I'll discuss the marathon, things I learned and other reflections and only throw in a few things regarding the vacation.  Well, I ran a marathon. The more I think about it, the more i realize it is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Thursday was a lot of travel and a lot of exhaustion.  Friday was the same, but in the car and with a little more sleep.  The amount of pee breaks for both days were insane trying to hydrate for the marathon.  After an expo where I got to see some cool Tiger Cubs and getting everything ready, I went to bed and knew I could do no more, tomorrow was the big day!!

It was actually a pretty good nights sleep. I woke up a few times but fell right asleep and was up and ready to go at 4:15. I hopped in the shower (yes I am weird that I shower before making myself stink and run for almost 4 hours but I like to at least start off smelling alright beforehand) and put on my garb. I fueled up and was ready to go. The temp was somewhere around 37 as we drove the two SUVs over to the start area. It was not warm but being as I had run many times in a T-shirt and long sleeve with shorts in those temps, I was plenty okay. We got there and the turn into the parking lot at Broadway at the Beach was insane. We were early enough it wasn't a concern. I did not want to start without another pit stop so I found the darkest and least crowded bush area. Oh what a relief it is!

The pace groups were poorly organized/labeled/etc. so I guessed a balloon was probably for the 3:35 pace group and got in between them and the next balloon, assuming that was 4:00. It is always amazing to me to see so many people in one area doing something most people would never try in their life at a time most people decide sleep is a better option. After a few days of reflection I feel this way even more than I used to!

The gun went off, though I could only tell by the mass moving forward slowly.  I started off comfortably and was passing more people than were passing me. It was an interesting start. I missed a 4 ton elephant at the start. I now know it was because my mom was taking a picture of my brother and I and I was so focused on the start. I started off and it was nice to see that I was in a nice groove. Not too fast and felt a good pace. The left side of the street was for the weak or should I say more intelligent the half marathoners and the right side was for the warriors orinsaneUnfortunately I knew I was slow but I didn't want to get stupid. It also felt faster than my long run pace by a bit so I knew I was no more than 9:15. I got to mile marker 1 and it said 10:30ish. Ouch. Okay I started around a minute late I realized so I was probably 9:15. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice and it was my rabbit of a brother telling me I did a 9:07. Okay, I started slow. I knew not to get stupid and just slowly increase the pace. It worked well. At Mile 4 I finally saw a yellow balloon and went oh man, no way that is 3:35 and sure enough I was with the 4:00 people. The good thing was my pace felt good and I knew I could run faster and I was passing more and more people anyway.  I hit the 10k and had run it at just over 9:10/mi.  I felt strong and kicked into gear.  After the 10k it was a slight downhill for awhile and I started passing more and more people.  I could tell by the clocks every mile or couple miles, whenever I saw one I was going strong. 

I smiled and thought about Sophie and Andi a lot throughout the marathon when I saw a mom and kid or dad and kid cheering on their parents.  I wish they would have been there physically but Sophie was every cute little girl to me holding a sign up or cheering on their parents so I knew she was there.

At Mile 11, the half marathoners and fulls broke off.  The half went back up Mr. Joe White Avenue while we crazies cruised down Oceans Blvd.  There were a fair amount of hotel guests lining the road.  I am glad I chose Ace as my bib name because that gave me a kick everytime I heard someone screaming Go Ace!  Right around the half marathon, I knew I had really made up time seeing the clock reading around 1:53:30.  I knew I was right on pace and felt great.  I continued to make ground on people and pass people.  There was only two guys that I found out to be family running together that passed me, then fell behind.  Their run-walk method was equal to my consistent pace.  I got to the only real downhill at Mile 17 after running uphill slightly for about a quarter mile and saw a woman running on her own.  She was cursing to herself or someone she was talking to on the phone.  I was glad I was not in her shoes.  Mile 17.5-19 was a crazy turnaround area.  I knew I would catch some of the people that looked spent and I was still feeling great.  Then suddenly at Mile 18, I felt a tweak in my calf. It was quick and sudden but I said to myself WTF is that?  I knew it was a sign of a cramp but had never felt that sensation in my body.  .  Just after Mile 19, I found my support group of my brother's family and my mom.  I felt good and appreciated seeing them there.  Unfortunately my calves did not care.  They began tweaking more and more, but no full cramp that stopped me or even slowed me down.  Suddenly at Mile 20.5 we headed up this loosely compacted asphalt street and if it wasn't for seeing another guy in misery, I probably would have felt bad.  I had just had my probably 20th cup of Powerade when a nice church group was offering oranges and dixie cups of water and powerade.  I decided to take a cup when I was told it was Powerade, wrong!!!  It was some of the worse tap water ever so I threw it in the trash after the first drop hit my tongue.  Little did I know, I could have used a Powerade and some anti-cramping medicine.  At Mile 21.5 you went along a dirt path for about a mile.  It was very peaceful and enjoyable to me, since I like running alone and those are my reflection times.  I felt good.  Unfortunately, I hit my first full-out cramp just as I was approaching the little quarter mile turnaround aide startion just after Mile 22.  At that aide station, I needed potassium, I needed salt and my mind was saying, I FUCKING HATE POWERADE, do not ingest one more lousy drop or I will puke.  I told it to shut up and drank up.  Bananas were offered, my body could not stomach a solid but looking back I should have tried since it's K-enrichment but puking did not sound any better so I chose just to hope the cramping would subside.  NOPE!!!

I battled a cramp every half mile until Mile 24.  I got to the clock there expecting to see over 3:30 and no chance at a 3:45 with all my stops.  Instead I was still on pace.  I checked my mind, it was good, I checked my body, it felt great, I checked my breathing, just as good, I checked my legs, numb to any pain but felt strong.  I took off and was at a good pace after a quarter miles and, Boom!  Cramp.  Longest stop to that point and it was both calves.  I massaged and stretched and was back at it.  It did not matter, the cramping was not going to subside.  I spent the last 2.2 miles catching people and then them getting right back to me.  The great thing is we all had slowed greatly.  Theirs were because their body was spent, mine was solely calves.  I felt great.  I can't tell you how much it sucked stopping 5-6 times in the last mile.  I stopped right before the turn into the parking lot of Pelican Park.  I stopped down the home stretch.  I saw the clock at Mile 26, just before the home stretch and saw I had lost my goal and I was now just needing to finish.  I tried to not stop, but it kept hitting.  I decided as I cramped in both calves, I was going to do whatever it took to finish strong at the finish line and I ran on my toes the last 100 meters keeping the cramps from grabbing even though they wanted to.  The clock said, 3:48:33 but I knew I was about a minute and a half faster and chip time was a 3:47:08.  I had become a marathoner.

I was proud but my first thoughts were dissappointment.  I felt strong and like I could have kept running mentally and physically and was frustrtated.  The more the last few days have gone by, the more I realized I need to be proud of myself.  I will get to that later.  I stood just past the finish line talking with my coach/mentor/friend/Uncle/Big Brother, my mom and my brother's son Ashton and talked about my run.  I then realized my legs were pretty shot.  Moving was painful but bearbale.  We stood there waiting for my brother.  I did not feel like I could eat anything and I wanted to see him finish.  The waiting lasted a while longer than I had hoped after seeing his half and 18.5 splits but I knew he had to have been feeling pain similar to mine, but I knew he'd make it, but not sure whether it would be 4:15 or 4:45.  He was somewhere in between and I was excited to see him done.  He looked as spent as I am sure I did with all the pain of the cramps.

Our post race meal was Bojangles followed by Landrys for dinner.  What a meal.  I spent the next 48 hours in some of the worse pain of my life I believe, the soreness from groin to foot was crazy.  I couldn't run, my balance was weak and it was tough to go from sitting to standing.  I still am a little sore, but I sit here a few days later and think, when can I run again?!

The Course and Organization:
The course was pretty cool, I wish you could see more of the ocean because it was a great site for the eyes when you did see it for more than in between buildings.  It really was a flat course but I did not mind that.  I would run this race again if I was ever in Myrtle Beach or around that area in February.  Not likely, but if I ever am I would do it.  I would change the short and crowded turnaround at Mile 22 into just a single aide station area.  I would also add an aid station at Mile 21 just past the church group or as part of it because that stretch from Mile 20 to Mile 22 is not easy.  The crowded areas that need fixed are when you turn onto Farrow Parkway with the 7000+ participants funnelling into a single turn lane and a couple other turns the last few miles.  The turns are brutal when you are cramping and that's where I had my main issues occur.

The organization was great.  The aide stations were plentiful.  My biggest thing is I saw volunteers dumping water into cups from plastic bottles.  Why not hand those out and allow people to run with them, especially for the marathoners where we are used to carrying something on our long runs and maybe need something to wet our tongue for mental fortitude in between aide stations? The funny thing was seeing one cup with 2 drinks of powerade and another that was no chance. 

I wish they had some water closer to the finish and handed out a water with the medal.  I was fine, but I saw a lot of people needing it right at the end and walking another 1/4 mile is not fun after 26.2.
The food was decent, but I was surprised there weren't some local businesses handing out some delicious fattening food.  A bagel or fruit was not something I had any interest in for at least a day or a few days!  I had been eating plenty of that food before the marathon.

The 18.6 checkpoint makes sense where it is at, but they should give one closer to that 20-21 range.  It would give you at least 10k since your half checkpoint and work out a little better to see where someone truly is later in the race.  I could have seen how much I dipped off.

Reflections and other thoughts:
First, it started snowing that night and the next days highs were in the high 20s with 40-mph wind gusts.  How fortunate Myrtle Beach, the organizers, the volunteers and us runners were!!!  I would have been happy to finish with any time in those conditions.  I was glad I didn't have to test my cold weather running prowess either way.

My next thing looking back is I respect Sir Marathon more now than I ever did.  I believe I was a little cocky.  I felt like 3:45 was more than doable, I felt unstoppable.  The cramping was something I had never experienced in my life.  The marathon told me I needed to respect it more by putting me through that pain I believe. 

I trained well, I ate well, I hydrated well during the race and I was prepared, but nothing could prepare me for the pain my calves were going through.  I fought them valiantly and to only finish a couple minutes past my goal  is a great first marathon.  Most people's stories I read are of hitting a huge wall and being satisfied finishing.  The fact is, I immediately wanted another go at the marathon.  I know I can run a 3:45 with a little more effort, doing some things the day before and of the marathon and trying some things out.

Obviously circulation was an issue in my calves and I believe compression socks, more potassium and some cramp medication at the halfway point will help.  I hydrated as well as I could.  I hated powerade the last 5 miles.  I was thinking to myself you are going to puke if you keep drinking it.  I could stomach a Powerade now, but for 24 hours after, Sports Drinks were not going to be part of my arsenal.

I ran a slow 10k and over the next 12.5 miles I ran at an 8:05/mi pace.  I am floored by this since that is fast, but I know I wasn't pushing too hard and that the extra gas I reserved probably kept me from stopping at the end of the race when I was cramping.  I didn't feel spent and that's a good sign.  There was more in the tank.  My tank was just not cooperating with the dang breaks of my calves.

I now realize I can run a 3:45 marathon.  My goal is to do this before I turn 32 in June.  My goal before my following birthday is a 3:30 marathon.  I love running.  I love what it has done to me.  I have never felt better physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.  I know I have a lot to improve on as a person, but am at least a lot better off than I was a year ago by miles, 1250 approximately!

First, I have to thank my daughter and wife.  They spent many weekends finding something to do while daddy ran for 3+ hours.  There are more to come I am sure, but I am going to enjoy the next few weeks with them before any really long run is thought about or discussed.  I am thinking about the next marathon but that is after talking with them.  I am a PITA (pain in the ...) and I appreciate Andi even when I do a poor job of showing it.

I have to thank my brother for starting this LIFE changing challenge.  He had a lot on his plate this year with a marriage, bringing two kids to make his family, crazy work schedule.   I am sorry for my ribbings about your weight and not realizing it was a big accomplishment to get to that finish line with the year you've had.  I am glad you want another crack at the beast!  I will be more supportive and less critical and competitive about it.

My mom being part of the trip was a great experience I will always hold dear to my heart.  It would not have been the same without her sharing in this experience.  She put the whip cream and cherry on this trip with her support, love and most of all excitement for what my brother and I had accomplished.  I hope I can help her accomplish her half marathon goal.

As far as this challenge, I could not have even thought of accomplishing it without my Uncle Tim.  He helped me improve my running and as a person more in the past year than ever.  He is a great man.  I love and respect him dearly.  He helped me off my cliff and we instead ran down that mountain together.  I hope to run many marathons with him and/or share our stories until we can no longer run.  I will talk greater about his impact on my life another day when I have 24 hours! :)

As for myself, I think the marathon was a big cure for many of my cravings.  I have had chocolate, I have had taco bell and cinnabon.  The thing is unlike the past, I didn't overindulge when I had these things and biggest of all, I either don't want more of it for a while or in a very limited and rare occassion.  Eating healthy, living healthy and feeling great are more important than a fast food meal.  Sandwiches, fruits and healthy meals sound more appealing than any Golden Arch and a year ago that was far from the case.  I am proud of where I have come physically and mentally.  I am at a great life weight.  I need to improve many things still, but those will come sooner than later.

My goals and how I will attain them are next to discuss.  Give me a few more days so I can decide what they are and how to attain them most efficiently.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Marathon Recap to come tomorrow...

For now I will tell you I survived. It was an amazing experience that I will do again and I love running. I would finish my blog but tablets and iPhones do not work well for long blogs. Until tomorrow or hasta maƱana.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Myrtle Beach Marathon countdown...

Okay the countdown is short.  It went from roughly 350 days to just 4!!! I leave in less than 48 hours!  How can I add any more exclamations to emphasize how much of a wreck my mind is in?

Work is crazy busy thus I will try to keep this short.  Add to that I have a seminar tomorrow when I could really use the day in the office. 

The following are things I am stressing about that I think all first time marathoners do and even veterans:

WEATHER!!!-I have been keeping an eye on it since about a month ago.  First it was the farmers almanac.  Then it was the 15 day forecast.  Then it was the 10 day.  Now the 5 day.  The weather has been from mid-40s lows to mid-60 highs.  Then yesterday it was 20+ mph wind and lows in 20s and highs in low 50s.  Then today high 50s with lows in mid 30s at time of race.  I will keep an eye on it but I need to relax and realize I can't control that aspect.  A start of mid to high 30s and not get hotter than 55 during the marathon would be fine by me!   Just stay away wind and low 30s!

Clothing-This ties with the above.  I also am wondering, do I buy a shirt so I can have this outfit that is matching?  That sounded totally non-manly but I don't have to delete that.  I am hoping I only have to wear a shirt and shorts, with a long sleeve I can tie around the waste at max.

Packing-Getting all I need packed.  Will I forget my shoes?  No, I will wear them to the airport.

Running-Can I run 26.2 miles?  I have ran 20 miles 7x during my training.  I've had a 50 mile week.  I've had a few 40 mile weeks.  I know I can, but at 8:35/mi?  Ahhh!!!

Work-So much to do so I will end it with.  I hope I get it figured out but I feel a midnight coming in is part of the day most likely. 

More on Friday from my iPhone after going through the expo and travel!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

9 days from 26.2 miles and Marathon #1...

Wow, we are in the single digits days until I toe the line (well, I am an average runner so I will be actually be up to a light jog pace by the time I get to the line) in Myrtle Beach!  I have many thoughts going through my head and questions, but most of all I have done what I can and I won't know if I can reach my goal of a 3:45 marathon until I get to where the proverbial WALL.  At that time I will have ran over 1250 miles and the question is when and then what to do when it does happen.  My goals is to feel the wall as I hit the finish line or within 0.2 miles.  At that time I will be able to control my CNS (Central Nervice System) and make some crazy thought about running from the tiger they have at the finish line that somehow got loose.  That will allow me to chase down people in front of me so I am not eaten.  Your mind is in disarray, your body is telling you to slow down or stop, but my mind will be strong.  I will wax on and wax off!  Whatever it takes!

So I  have noticed this week that I am at my breaking point food wise.  I have allowed myself dessert a few times, Taco Bell twice but I am trying to stay under 160 for the marathon and eating smarter this week.  It has been a mental game.  I believe a good LIFE weight for me is 165-170 if and hopefully when I add some bulk back to my upper body (I ain't no wussy just cause I lost weight, I am still strong like bull).  Now running wise, 155-160 is ideal so I will probably stay close to that.  All that said, I am having extreme desires for food.  Taco Bell, Ice Cream, Cinnabon, an entire bag of Peanut M & Ms (The CostCo size or the top shelf one at Target that costs $10,  not the Medium bag) and yes, I am a former fat ass because of my love for food.  Not beer, not alcohol, food.  I didn't over eat constantly but I ate the wrong shit for days on end, then stopped, then weeks on end, then stopped.  When my father-in-law died I used that as an excuse to fill my face and since starting this challenge and change of LIFE in March 2012, I have learned a lot about myself and realized I never want to be "THERE" again.

I have decided to live healthy, eat better but also allow myself to indulge a little here and there.  I still have not had candy or soda in the 40 days.  I have had fast food twice and have only had one beer on a date night with the wife.  My biggest issue going forward and one that I need to deal with is the cheap and quick meal of fast food.  I have lost my desire for McDonald's, never been a big fan of Burger King, but Taco Bell how I love you and could eat you 3-5x a week.

A few things that have helped this week is knowing each pound will help me for the marathon and wanting to be under 160 for the marathon.  Andi has begun eating better again and started to work out on the treadmill which in turn has forced me not to eat poorly this week.  I am trying to be supportive and not a pushy ass coach like I am used to being with the wrestlers and football players I have coached.  I am letting her choose how she does it and just help however she might want.

I don't know what I am more excited for now?  To pig out or to complete a marathon.  It's the marathon but damn am I wanting a concoction of calories and fat right now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

2 Weeks (said like the 1990 Total Recall)...

I've been playing this 2 Weeks clip on youtube 2 WEEKS!!! and in my head over and over since yesterday and will continue it through the weekend.  2 Weeks until my first Marathon in Myrtle Beach, SC!!!  Excited?  Um, yes.  Nervous? Butterflies are flapping and I am crapping.  That is not very adult like but that's alright, I make dumb little jokes.  Most of all, while nervous and excited, after my 20 miler & 16 miler the past two weeks, I am READY!!!  48 weeks ago I weighed over 205 lbs and couldn't run 2 miles without feeling completely spent.  I actually ran 2 miles ago 48 weeks ago with my brother and Uncle (my Uncle did 2 more because as my blog has said he is a marathon runner many times over).  My brother and I did the 2 and we were spent.  My back hurt for the next few days.  But we know all of this (if you've read the rest of my boring blogs)!  So, back to what's ahead and how I feel.

The last two long runs were great.  My knee wasn't being dragged along like it had the month and a half before where I was dealing with ITBS issues off and on and then on for 3 weeks straight.  My knee didn't hurt, my pace was comfortable and most of all, I finished both of those runs and felt like I could have ran an additional 10-15 miles at that pace, around 9:45/mi.  Then to add to those great long runs, my short runs and speed work have been perfect the last 3 weeks.  I have been hitting my Yasso pace with a couple extra seconds to spare and been running really well at Marathon pace.  I say all this and this week I once again am in a rut and my running schedule is piled to the end of the week.  I believe this is because I am so focused on the marathon but also work is a bitch right now.  There is a lot of little projects to get out and I don't feel like I should escape for 40 minutes.  It also cooled down and got a little breezy and high 30s and breezy is worse that 20s and calm.  Oh well, I will get my runs in today and the next 2 days and then I only  have 4 runs scheduled the next two weeks (of course the last one is 26.2 miles).  My total mileage before the marathon after this weekend is 27 miles. 27 miles?  I've done that in less than 24 hours on a couple double up weekend runs.

Bring on my last double digit run this weekend!