Sunday, October 28, 2007

Today Is A Great Day...

Today was a great day. All around. Being surrounded by friends and T only made it better.

Last year I ran this race as my first ever HM and did ok all things considered (you can read about it here). In May I ran the HM at the Flying Pig and did pretty decent considering the course, etc (you can read about it here). After the Pig I realized that if I was going to do any better I would have to really dedicate myself and put in the miles/work necessary.

So I did. After the race in Cincy I increased the amount of miles I was running – I’ve been over 100 miles each month since May – and I made the effort to be consistent with doing the quality speed work that the training plan called for. This was my goal race all summer. Today it all paid off.

The weather couldn’t have been better – very cool at the start (34F) with little to no wind to speak of and after sunrise there wasn’t a cloud to be seen for most of the race. I was fortunate to have friendly faces around me at the start to ease the nervousness – one of T’s colleagues and one of the 30s from who traveled from out of state to run the race. I had kept my goal for today pretty close – I’d talked about it with 3 or 4 people – because I didn’t want to put it out there and be disappointed if it didn’t happen. My goal was to break 2 hours, my PR being 2:14:52 in Cincy.

We started off pretty easy – first race ever that I didn’t pass someone walking the race in the first 2 miles, which was very nice – and the pace felt good. It was still dark enough that I was having trouble reading my garmin with my sunglasses on. First mile: 9:01

Just past the first mile marker we were merged on to the bike path – pretty crowded and I almost made the jump back into the street just because I felt really boxed in and could feel myself slowing down, but we made a turn, past a water station and things thinned out nicely. Mile 2: 9:09

Fell into a pretty easy pace – having a friend alongside made a HUGE difference. It’s one thing to have snippets of conversations with other runners, but to actually carry on a conversation with a friend – priceless. The miles started clicking by fast enough that I actually looked over and said “these miles are going by pretty quick!” Mile 3: 9:02, Mile 4: 8:54, Mile 5: 8:52

We entered Millennium Park and I felt pretty good. Saw two people I knew – T’s colleague who was running the relay with her, and one of the physician’s covering the event that I work with. Nice to hear my name from familiar voices at this point. Mile 6: 8:45

Out of the park and downhill back to the bike trail. Looked at my friend and said “we might see T, so keep an eye out for her” – sure enough just before mile 8 we saw her! She was looking great. Mile 7: 8:53, Mile 8: 8:48, Mile 9: 9:02

Started to feel the effort in my legs a bit at this point…started thinking about other people I’ve interacted with on the Kickrunner and some of the experiences they’ve had here lately. Some of their words/mantras started bouncing around my head as I passed mile 10 right at 1:29:xx – so I knew that unless something really bad happened I would be able to make my goal. Mile 10: 9:04

Turned a corner, passed a water station and got separated from my friend (after she crossed the finish line I found her and she said she walked that water stop) and kept going. 3.1 miles to go. I tried to keep up with the people in front of me, letting them pull me along for a bit. Mile 11: 8:57

Back towards town. Keep my feet moving. Don’t lose sight of the people in front of me. Mile 12: 8:45

One mile and change to go. Don’t stop now. Gave it everything I have. Passed the Mile 13 marker, 8:25, and powered on to the finish line.

The most beautiful sight was the clock at the finish – it read 1:59:30 – so I new no matter what I’d exceeded my goal of finishing in 2 hours because it took me at least 2 minutes, or so, to cross the finish line.

Total time: 1:57:08. I took 17:49 off of my previous PR.

Thank you Maria – I got comfortable being uncomfortable.
Thank you Dom – TCM didn’t provide it for you, so share in my PR today.
Thank you Maureen, Lori, and a few others – for keeping my goal a secret.

Today was a great day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Excitement/nervousness is starting to build...look at the counter over there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Into The Wild

First read the book for the first time in 2003 (I think) after reading Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Krakauer is one of my favorite authors; own all of his books, so maybe this opinion is biased. You decide.

The story has been well publicized over the years since the book’s release so I don’t think I need to be too cautious about revealing elements of the plot. The movie is very true to the book in all aspects: the pacing, the way the story is told, and Krakauer was even hired as a consultant on the film to ensure accuracy.

The idea of leaving the trappings of society behind is intriguing, but actually abandoning society as McCandless did is beyond my comprehension. Even prior to his hike into the wild of Alaska he was living his life by his own rules – something that many of us long to do. However in his quest to live his own way he alienated himself from the people who cared the most for him; his sister, his parents, and the friends he acquired along his journey. The distance to which he kept his friends away probably is what boggles my mind the most. I understand his desire to escape the parents he felt betrayed him, but to put walls around himself with friends I don’t understand. I’ve mentioned in previous posts my thoughts of friends being the family we get to choose in life…maybe it’s just my way of looking at things, but the people I choose to let into my life are the ones that I hold the most dear (Sorry family – I hold you guys in a special place, I just didn’t get a say in the matter of who you are.) His willingness to walk away from those relationships in pursuit of his own fulfillment, I just don’t get.

Emile Hirsch did a wonderful job portraying McCandless…his charm, his intelligence, his loneliness. Truthfully that is the only way to describe the way McCandless spends his last weeks, days, hours…truly alone. The most moving scene in the movie is when McCandless has reached the point in Alaska that he’s ready to return to the real world only to be faced with the cold, hard reality that returning to the life he knew is impossible. The resignation of being stranded sinks in and while he faces the reality of what is to come with dignity, it is truly, truly sad and moving to watch him approach his final hours.

From the book “Into The Wild” and notes that McCandless made in the book “Doctor Zchivago”:

Next to “And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness…And this was most vexing of all,” he noted, “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.”

It is tempting to regard this latter notation as further evidence that McCandless’s long, lonely sabbatical had changed him in some significant way. It can be interpreted to mean that he was ready, perhaps, to shed a little of the armor he wore around his heart, that upon returning to civilization, he intended to abandon the life of solitary vagabond, stop running so hard from intimacy, and become a member of the human community. But we will never know, because Doctor Zchivago was the last book Chris McCandless would ever read.

Less than three weeks after making those notes Chris McCandless was dead. Dead from boldness. Dead from ignorance. Dead from the direct consequences of decisions he made. Yes, he died alone, apart from everyone who cared for and loved him, but I feel, at least, he died at peace.

The note he makes in "Doctor Zchivago" – “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED” struck me to the core and has been lingering in the back of my mind since I walked out of the theater Friday night. Do I share my happiness? If not, why not? That has been the thought this great story has left me with, and I’m not sure I have an answer yet.

Not Much Time Left...

See the counter over on the right? Yep, only 6 days until the HM. Starting to get a bit nervous and excited.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Everyone knows the old adage of “actions speak louder than words” and at times I couldn’t agree more with it. But, if we only go by actions we might miss something very special.

Words have power, both good and bad – but I’m focusing on the good with this, words can illicit wonderful things in us. Words can be in the form of long handwritten letters to loved ones, small notes left in a loved ones lunch box, or even in the modern age emails. Words can be spoken face to face.

All forms have importance.

Words have importance. Words can come from people far away and impact your life when you least expect it, and when you need it most. Words can be whispered into your ear so no one else can hear causing that smile to spread across your face.

Words have power. Words should be respected and used frequently. We should share our words with the people that matter to us.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


The process I began on Aug 29 came to completion this past Wednesday night. It isn't exactly what I thought it would be when I started, but I think it couldn't be any better. Thank you Jay.

The Beginning

The End

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Conversations At The Bar

After a productive morning of racing followed by me baking myself during a soccer game T and I decided that we deserved a reward and headed to the New Holland Brewery for a few drinks and some food.

We were lucky enough to get seats at the bar in that lull between the afternoon and evening crowds. Always see interesting people when we are there. Yesterday it was an alumni gathering for the college in the town and a wedding party – complete with bride and groom still all dressed up. Sitting at the bar you’re privilege to conversations that you don’t always here sitting at a table, such as this one:

Guy at bar: I really don’t like anything you serve here. Do you have something that tastes like a Rolling Rock?
Bartender: not really, but the closest thing would be a Zoomer

Or this one:

Guy at bar: Can I get a Corona?
Bartender: No, we only sell beer that we brew.

Both times my jaw almost hit the bar! I mean, come on – how do you walk into a place that has New Holland Brewing over the front door and not get the message that you are in a microbrewery?

I think T and I were the most taken back by the guy asking for the Corona, because you should have seen the look of disappointment on his face because he was forced to drink something brewed on premises.

I remember those times – back in college when I thought Miller Lite was the greatest thing ever bottled. Drank only to get drunk. I don’t think I truly appreciated the differences in beer until I was 25.

Another conversation from the bar:

Woman at bar: I don’t really like strong, hoppy flavored beers…what do you have that I might like.
Bartender: You could try the Harvest Ale, or we have our seasonal pumpkin ale.

See the difference is the last person at least had an education about beer, new what she liked and disliked in a beer. Which person at the bar do I want to be like…the woman. Which person at the bar do you want to be like?

The Greatest 5k Ever - yes, that's the name of the race

This race had been brought to my attention by the manager of the New Balance store (she’s the partner of one of T’s colleagues) and it looked like it would fit perfectly in my schedule: three weeks out from my half-marathon and it happened to fall on a Saturday when I didn’t have any events to cover at work (I did end up having to work but everything worked out in the end).

This was the first race I’ve run that had a 10 a.m. start. It was a nice change of pace but was part of the problem of me having to hurry to work afterwards – I had to skip the hot meal they were providing! The race was held in a park along the Grand River that is used for cross country races by some local high school and the college I work for, and when I found out the location I was wondering if it would be on the paved paths or not. The course map on the website wasn’t the most helpful – it was hand drawn and then scanned looked like. When we got there you could see the course was set up as an out-back/out-back type on the paved paths.

T ran this race as well and we were both running this for our own time so as we were standing at the start waiting for the horn/gun I think we both were a little nervous – ok, I know I was nervous. See the thing is the last race I ran, a 10k in July, I wasn’t pleased with my performance. This race though I had hopes of setting a new PR prior to finishing up the training for the HM in three weeks. After a few words of encouragement the horn sounded and we were off.

I started out near the back so the first quarter mile or so I was getting into a rhythm and passing some people. It wasn’t until about a half mile into the race that I looked down at my garmin: 7:45 pace. WTF? – that’s what I thought to myself. I kept going, passed the one mile marker: 7:56 for mile one. NO way can I keep this up.

Just after the first mile we turned around and headed back to the start/finish – I was still passing people, and I started to find a pace that I thought I could maintain. I could start to feel the heat (why is it above 80F in October?) taking a toll on me as I neared the two mile marker: 8:27 for mile two. Ok, this is the pace I had as a goal, or close enough.

I passed the start finish line and headed out for the other out/back just as kid maybe 12-13 was finishing. Always nice to see the younger kids taking part in this absurd pastime. Here is where I started to struggle. Less than a mile to go, I just want to hold on to the pace as best as I can and finish. Make the last turn and head to the finish with about a half mile to go. Just as I’m approaching the finish I see T – she looks like she’s going strong. I push to the finish and can see the race clock. Even though I know my chip time will be less the clock shows that this is a PR for me. Cross the line, stop my garmin.

Finish time by my garmin: 25:47
Chiptime: 25:48

I took 63 seconds off of my PR. I feel pretty good going into the HM in three weeks. T (she has her own story to tell) and I celebrated with some good beer after the soccer game. All in all a good day.