Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NYC Marathon To Go On As Scheduled (I Hope)

As anyone watching the news has seen, NYC has been hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.  The NYC Marathon is only a few days away, and despite the destruction the storm has caused, organizers are hoping the race will go off without a hitch.  If the race is cancelled it will be a huge disappointment to the tens of thousands of runners and volunteers who have prepared for the race.  However, this would pale in comparison to the lives of those taken or otherwise affected by this natural disaster.


Monday, October 29, 2012

#22--Louisville Marathon

Louisville, KY
April 24, 2010

This was the last marathon I drove to.  My cutoff for a reasonable distance to drive was 10-12 hours.  By now, I had pretty much run every other state within driving distance.  My wife and I were now raising a 3 month old and we both thought it would be best if I did this one solo.  It was a Saturday race.  I got up early Friday morning and hit the road.  I made it to Louisville in time to pick up my packet and hit the expo and pre-race pasta party.  Even though driving isn't physical at all, I am always tired after a long drive so I turned in early.

The course was rather hilly, as I recall, and the weather was pretty warm and muggy for an early spring marathon.  The course went through the parks and neighborhoods of this southern city.  The highlight was definitely running through the famous Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is run.  Although we didn't actually get to run on the track, we ran through the grounds and infield.  The course briefly takes a turn into nearby Indiana before returning to finish in downtown Louisville.  

I finished in a now pretty customary ~4:40.  I grabbed my stuff from the hotel and hopped back in my car.  I was tired but wanted to get home and see my family.  I stopped off at a Wendy's to get something to eat.  When I tried to start my car in the parking lot I couldn't find my keys.  I was so tired I must have inadvertently threw them away along with my fast food trash!  I rifled through the trash can inside the restaurant, looking like some kind of lunatic, until I found my keys.  

I hit the road again.  I drove through a spring thunderstorm and was only able to make it to St. Joseph, Missouri before I was just too tired to drive any more.  I found a cheap hotel on the side of the interstate, got a few hours of sleep, and left early the next day.  I was home right after sunrise to meet my son and equally sleep deprived wife.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Final Thoughts on Double Weekend

After flight cancellations and delays, I finally made it home last night.

A few final thoughts from the weekend:

-Running back-to-back marathons is hard.

-Fall in southeast Nebraska is beautiful.  The colors in Lincoln and Omaha now are more spectacular than anything I saw in Connecticut or Rhode Island.

-Airline consolidation has been bad for consumers.  Too few flights, oversold, overworked crews.  I could go on and on.  Fly Southwest whenever you can.

-DON'T get tricked into buying extra insurance at the car rental place, but DO be careful when you are parking your rental car.

-Contrary to the stereotype, people on the east coast are generally very nice.  Direct, but nice.

-Professional sports on the east coast (Red Sox, Yankess, Patriots, Giants) are a HUGE deal.  These fans make even the most passionate Nebraska fan seem downright casual.

-You can do most anything you set your mind to.

-Being away from your family sucks.

-Seeing their smiling faces at the airport is great.

Monday, October 15, 2012

#37--Amica Newport Marathon

Newport, RI
October 14, 2012

This was one of the hardest things I have done.  I got a pretty good night's rest, but was still sore and tired at the start.  NOT a good way to start 26.2.  The race started along the coast.  It was very windy, with gusts of 30-40 mph blowing sand everywhere.  Thankfully the course quickly turned into the parks and residential neighborhoods of this beautiful, old, and very wealthy city giving us some break from the winds.  I don't think I have ever run by mansions and castles before.

I settled into a slow, comfortable pace.  My foot was hurting quite a bit.  A runner in front of me collapsed on the side of the road.  He was quickly tended to be several runners, a couple of nurses included.  I pitched in and we were able to determine that he was not in cardiac arrest and did not appear to be in any immediate danger.  Nevertheless, we called for an ambulance and insisted that he go to the ER.  Note--the very first thing to do in these cases is call for an emergency squad.  Also, everybody should take a course in basic life support (BLS).  Anyway, once we made sure he was ok and in the capable hands of EMS personnel, the few of us tending to him resumed our races.  I was energized by the whole experience and actually felt much better afterwards.

Fortunately, the wind was mostly at our backs for the first half.  At the half finish line, those running the full darted out of line and continued on the full course.  This part of the course was confusing and congested, and can be improved, I think.  It is also sort of cruel, watching most of the runners finish and getting on with their day.  Those of us running the full then headed into the more hilly second half of the course.  It was still very windy, but scenic.

I took extended walk breaks through the aid stations but maintained a pretty steady pace most of the race.  I saw several people wearing shirts from the race in Hartford the day before.  One estimate I heard was 70 people or so running the same double I was.  I am clearly not the only crazy person out there.

I finished in under 5 hours.  I really didn't have a goal for the weekend other than to finish both races, but I was pleased that I did both in under 5.  With no place to rest or shower, I hopped back in the rental car, covered in sweat and sand, and began the journey home.  The "journey" is still in progress, less than 24 hours later, with flight cancellations, delays, rental car "incidents" and a visit with the Windsor Locks, CT police department.  (Nothing bad, but I'll keep that one to myself!)

I know I can do a double weekend now.  I learned a lot in the process, and look forward to the challenge again.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Did It!

I finished my New England Double today, completing the Newport, Rhode Island Marathon.  Conditions were pretty tough, I was very sore, and my time was slowed when I stopped to help tend to a runner who collapsed at mile 7 (he was OK and the ambulance quickly came).

I'll have a full report when I get my official time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

You are Next, Rhode Island!

#36--ING Hartford Marathon

Hartford, CT
October 13, 2012

I successfully completed the first leg of my New England Double, finishing the Hartford Marathon in under 4.5 hours.  I thought I would finish in 5 hours, because I wanted to run very slowly.  I felt great though, and didn't feel at all like I pushed myself too hard.

I arrived early and was able to rest the entire day before the race.  The expo and pre-race pasta dinner were both excellent.  Race day was perfect, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 50s, with virtually no wind.  The course was generally flat.  The start was in front of the state capitol.  The course  left downtown Hartford and left briefly, returning to downtown along the Connecticut river before heading out into East Hartford and South Windsor.  At mile 17 the runners turned around and headed back downtown to finish underneath the iconic memorial arch outside the capitol.  

I grabbed my finisher's medal and a couple bottles of water and some food before hopping in my rental car and heading to Rhode Island.

Monday, October 8, 2012

REPOST--#1--Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon was this weekend.  This was my first marathon, and still one of the best.  I dusted off this post to re-live the memory.  I never would have imaged I would be running marathons 15 years later.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

October 11, 1998.  4:23:59
My first marathon (& last without body glide!)  I had only been running for a year and a half.  I had done a few local 5Ks and the Bolder Boulder 10K up to this point, but I knew next to nothing about distance running.  I was amazed that people actually could run 26.2 miles.  It seemed almost super human to me at the time.  I researched marathons some more and discovered that if you were in reasonably good shape and had a "base mileage" of 15-20 miles/week, the marathon was within your grasp.  With enough time and training (4 months on average) you can go from running 3-5 miles per day to completing the marathon.

I've always enjoyed testing myself and this seemed like the ultimate test.  I was a second year medical student at the time.  I would often have to run at 5 in the morning or 11 at night, but I don't think I missed a single training run.  The marathon consumed me.  In my limited free time, I read everything I could about running.  I've mentioned Hal Higdon's programs before.  His weekly novice program became my bible.  

Chicago was a great choice for a first marathon.  It's truly one of the great cities of the world, and was cheap and easy for a med student with limited time and money to get to.  I stayed with a friend from college who couldn't understand why the guy who used to go to Leavenworth Cafe every night after the bars closed was now running marathons.

Marathon day was perfect.  Mid 50's, sunny.  Chicago is a flat, fast, well organized and supported race.  My running had always been hampered by IT Band Syndrome, and this race was no different.  I held back for the first half of the race, running very cautiously.  If you've suffered from IT band syndrome, you know that the pain can come on very suddenly, and can bring your run to a screeching halt.  By mile 11, however, the endorphins started to kick in, my pace quickened, and my knee pain melted with the miles.

My time was slow, 4:23:59, but I finished.  That was my only goal.  I was sure I would never run another marathon. 

#21--Philadelphia Marathon

Philadelphia, PA
November 22, 2009

This is still one of my favorite marathons.  I had never been to Philly, so my wife and I left on Thursday and made a long weekend out of it.  We saw the historic sights of Philadelphia, of which there are many, and we ate at several fantastic restaurants.  Oh yeah, there was a race, too.

The race starts by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the famous "Rocky" statue now resides.  The course takes you through many different parts of town and winds through the expansive Fairmount Park, which is basically Philadelphia's Central Park.  This part was quite hilly, but scenic.

I felt great during most of the race and was hoping to break 4 hours.  This was my third marathon in as many months, and after the hills in Fairmount Park, I just didn't have the legs to carry me to a strong, sub 4 hour finish.  Afterwards we hustled back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and a quick bite to eat, hopped the train to the airport, and flew home that night.  

I generally prefer the large, urban marathons.  Although Philadelphia does not have the reputation of Boston, New York, or Chicago, in my opinion the Philadelphia Marathon is in the same class at the US marathon majors and definitely worth a look.

Friday, October 5, 2012

#20--Columbus Marathon

Columbus, OH

October 18, 2009

With the Huskers traveling to Columbus this weekend to take on THE Ohio State University Buckeyes, I thought it would be a good time to post about the Columbus Marathon I ran a few years ago.

My wife's sister lives in Columbus.  We stayed several days with her and her husband, Dave, who owns a huge demolition company in Columbus.  He has literally helped to tear down and build the city into what it is today.  He took us on an insider's guided tour of the city.  I was surprised by Columbus.  It is much bigger and nicer than I thought.

We stayed in Columbus for a few days leading up to and after the marathon.  Dave has one of the best wine collections I have ever seen anywhere, with a bar and cellar inspired by his favorite place in Belgium.  I know now that this is NOT a great way to prepare for a 26.2 mile run.  Let's just say I have felt better at the start of most marathons than I did for this one.

The race started early in the morning in downtown Columbus.  The day was cool and clear.  The course winds through downtown Columbus and takes you through the expansive OSU campus and many of the monuments and landmarks of this thriving midwestern city.  

I ran this race a month after North Dakota and I was slowed by foot and ankle tendonitis on my left side.  This and the effects of way too much Belgian beer and Napa Valley Pinot made Columbus one of the more difficult races I have done.  Despite these "obstacles" I came in just over 4.5 hrs.

The weekend I was in Columbus, Ohio State was on the road at Purdue, and suffered a rare defeat.  Here's hoping the Buckeyes have a similar fate this weekend when the Huskers visit the famous horseshoe.