Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There are no excuses.

I defy you (or me) to come up with a reason not to run today.

Monday, April 30, 2012

I ran...

It is probably no secret to most of you that motivation has eluded me for months. I can trace it back to the post-marathon blues of the Marine Corps Marathon. I tried running through them. I even scheduled another marathon to try to avoid them...but nothing worked.

Since January I've been through peaks and valleys in running, and some days I thought I was "back". Unfortunately, I could never shake them. Today ends perhaps the worst month of training that I think I've ever had in just shy of 3 years of running. Prior to today I've had 5...yes FIVE workouts all month long. I last ran on Sunday morning April 15th, and when I walked home, I honestly didn't care if I ever ran again.

I have pulled myself away from the running community...isolated myself from the "rah-rah" tweets and blogs. Everything I heard about motivation, everything I've ever heard or said simply did not work. It was never "I can't do this.." it was "I have no desire to do this.."

So I resolved to just stop...until the regained the desire to run again.

It's funny how that some people can spot things about you that you can't even see yourself. Some brave souls even tell you to your face, and you deny deny deny..

I thought I just loved running. I thought I loved the sport, the activity, everything about it. Some people saw my running for what it was. Only a couple of people had the courage to tell me to my face. They'd say, "Randy, I think you're running as a coping mechanism to deal with your mom's illness and death." I'd say "That's ridiculous. "I started running for my health, then just fell in love with it."

I'm convinced the human brain can convince itself of anything. I was convinced that they were wrong.

Since mom's passing I've gone through quite a journey of self-discovery, and after a few months with some counseling I'm beginning to see that those people were right. Although I don't miss my mom any less, the "toxic fuel" of grieving has run its course. So in order to find my motivation, I need to find a new fuel source.

Now what? I still don't desire to run.

A good friend of mine that I've met through DailyMile contacted me because he was concerned about not seeing me post any workouts. I shared with him my issues regarding lack of motivation, and he gave me a bit of advice that's been rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks. He said,
Don't wear a watch or worry about times or splits, just go out and have a chat with God and see what happens..
For probably a week after he sent the email, every time I thought about it, I reasoned that there was NO WAY I could run without a watch. How would I keep up with the miles on my shoes? How would I know how many miles I was running a week? How would I see any improvement in my pace?

You get the idea.

I'm realizing that I've painted myself into a box. The box that says I run at a certain pace,  The box that tracks how many miles I've done this week, this month, this year. The box that keeps us with how many races I've done. The box that defines my goals, aspirations and says what success looks like. This mental score card says how I stack up against YOU, and it is unmercifully critical of myself. I am what the box says I am.

I don't want to be defined by numbers, by stats, by accolades or the admiration of peers. I don't want to be trapped in this box anymore. Can I free myself from it to ultimately find out...Who am I allowed to be?

That's why I ran today.  It was 86 degrees at 5:15pm. I ran in the heat. I ran after work. I ran with no watch. I ran with no expectation of what route I would take. I ran with no regard of how far I would go. I ran with no regard of how long it would take.

I simply ran. I ran fast when I felt like running fast. I ran slow when I felt like running slow. I even took a walk break or two. I have no idea how far or how fast I went, but it was perhaps one of the most cathartic workouts that I've ever done.

I make no promises for tomorrow, next week or the next week. All I know is, today...I ran.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Twas the tale of two races...

One race was hot, one race was cold,
One race was new, one was old,
One race was flat, one race was hilly,
One race had few frills, one was frilly,
One race was costly, one race was free,
It took these two races for me to see. 

Last fall, after the Marine Corps Marathon, I began to look at spring races. Some folks from my Saturday morning training group were planning on running the Georgia Half/Full, and they invited me and my wife to go. Shortly thereafter we signed up and planned to go with them on a race trip to Atlanta.

Soon after I registered, my wife's friends who helped her train for Marine Corps told her about a race they were doing one week earlier here in Greenville. She wanted to do it with them and I can remember saying, "You're going to run a half on two consecutive weekends? Are you sure that's something you want to do?" She assured me that it was and the plan became that she would do both half marathons. In my typical smug, know it all, husbandly, runner expert way I thought...Well, *I* would never put myself through running two consecutive half marathons within 8 days like that.

Never say never.

Fast forward a few months. Christy is battling an Achilles injury that she can't shake, as I battle a warm bed and a streak of laziness that I can't shake each morning. The Georgia Half is nearing, and my goals have been adjusted to the obligatory "I'm just going to have fun".  Which is runner code for, "I've eaten too many Krispy Kremes and put too many weekly "donuts" up on the training log to expect any results."

So on Thursday March 8th, a new local magazine called Pace Running Magazine had a contest on Twitter. The winner would obtain a FREE registration to the GHS Centennial Half Marathon (which was 2 days away). Now how many possible people do you think are sitting around and seriously thinking that they could run a half marathon on TWO DAYS notice? Apparently they weren't expecting ME. I entered...and I won. Now look who is now doing two half marathons within two weeks.  The irony was not lost on my wife.

Race 1-Greenville Hospital System's Centennial Half Marathon
I carpooled with my wife's friends to the GHS half since it was a point to point race, and I started with no expectations. Since the Charleston Full, I had run less than 50 Not in a week, but total. I was a lousy excuse for a runner or motivator as I tried to work with my own motivation and PT workouts 2X per week. Race morning was pretty chilly in the mid 30's at the start with about a 10 MPH wind. Temps were supposed to warm to the mid 50's by the end of the race, but the wind would be persistent. I felt really strong at the beginning turning in some pretty quick low 8 minute miles. I didn't know how long I could sustain it but decided that I would just keep it rolling until the wheels fell off. Most of the entire race was held on Greenville's Swamp Rabbit Trail which is a paved trail on what was once old railroad tracks. It has almost no elevation change, and is pretty heavily wooded on both sides for most of the trail outside of the connecting cities. The wind proved not to be much of a factor up until mile 10.5 when we left the trail and started running through downtown Greenville. As the miles clicked off, my new goal was to keep my time under 8:15 pace, and it was working until mile 12 which brought strong headwinds and some well timed hills.

As I neared mile 13, I noticed these two guys talking, and I heard one tell the other to go on. So the other guy went on ahead, leaving his friend. As we continued to run he was making an odd waving movement with his arm as if to say "pass me". I was in no shape at this point to challenge anyone as I was huffing and puffing like the Little Engine that could. When I pulled up beside him he said something to the effect of.."You wanna go?" Not being one to ever turn down a challenge, "we went" matching each other's stride with less than a third of a mile to go. We made the final turn and the finish line was finally in sight. I dug deep and was in an all out sprint and pulled ahead of my new friend. I crossed less than one second ahead of him.

We looked EXACTLY like this. I would be Rocky in this picture. Notice my chiseled biceps?
We high fived each other at the end as we struggled to get our breath. I told him thank you, as I figured that if he wasn't there, I probably would have slogged in slowly...or at least nowhere near as fast as I did. I finished in 1:48:18. I thought that this was a great result, considering my training. I was a happy fella. I ran the race in less than my planned marathon pace of 8:20 so I considered this day a WIN.

The race was very well done, and I was proud of our hometown for hosting such a great event, and a huge shout out to Pace Running Magazine for the free entry. If you're in Greenville pickup a copy at any running/fitness store or buy a subscription and have it delivered!

Race 2-Georgia Half Marathon
Coming off of my high the previous week, I had to temper my expectations of the race in Atlanta. I had already heard all the horror stories "Atlanta is prepared." Of course, I prepared myself mentally for the non-stop fun of a rolling hill half, and figured it would be a couple of minutes slower than the GHS race.

That is until mother nature decided to show up. You know its going to be bad when the race director begins sending out DAILY emails during race week to warn people about the heat. I must commend the management of the Georgia Marathon for having us fully prepared for the contingency of oppressive heat and possible thunderstorms. Water would be plentiful on the course, and for that I was thankful.

My running buddies picked me up on Saturday morning. They are both "Streakers"
NO...not this kind of streaking.
That is to say that they have participated in this race every year. So they have a "streak" running this race the past six years in a row.  With this amount of knowledge, they would be great resources to mentally prepare, and I knew I'd have all the tools I needed to succeed. We stayed with one of my friend's sisters and her husband in Atlanta. They fed us and made sure we were well hydrated...and of course made sure that March Madness was on every second we were there!

The expo was great. It was perhaps the most professionally done expo that I've ever been to. (I'm in event marketing, so I have a critic's eye for these things). Publix did an outstanding job of welcoming and hosting the runners, and if you've ever been welcomed into a Publix store by a friendly associate, the experience was the same in Atlanta. Lots of warm friendly greetings and a great corporate experience. I purchased a few things on the floor, and I ate or drank everything anyone was handing out on the floor....well except for Nuun. I'm not a fan of Alka Seltzer. (don't send me hate mail...its just not my thing)

We got back early, ate, watched some hoops and set our alarm clocks for an early morning.

The race started at 7AM, and I was in a corral near the front. I'm not sure how that happened, but I was thankful. Standing in the crowd you could tell just how hot it was going to be; the temperature was the only thing on every runner's mind this morning. We started in the mid 60's on its way to the high 70's/low 80's by the time the full marathoners were done.

Miles 1 and 2 were very quick. I benefited from being with other fast people in corral B, and I ran with them. At mile 2 I was already dousing myself with water to try and cool off. I wasn't acclimated for any half marathon, let alone one this warm. By mile 4 I felt like things were unraveling. I knew I had been going too fast. I had put together three sub-7:45 miles. I was feeling physically ill. I wanted to puke. I have to be honest, it has been a very long time since I've wanted to puke on a run.

I decided that I needed to come back to reality, and run some 8:15 miles on these hills and in this heat.

Each water station brought the same thing. One cup in my mouth, one cup over my head. I started feeling better in mile 5 and felt like I could get back to some more aggressive running, and by mile 9 I was feeling it. I thought that a 1:45 race was within reach. I took another Gu and got ready to average less than 8 minute miles over the next four miles.

A note to all the kids out there. Know your race course. It is hard to plan to hit a certain time when you don't know that the last four miles will be hills...the uphill kind.

I have never been a Georgia Tech fan, but when I saw the students and volunteers out cheering us on at mile 11.5 and handing out water, I think I became a fan. It was the beginning of uphill running that would take us through the finish.

Around mile 12 I saw a young lady slowing to walk in front of me. I encouraged her to keep on running, so she did. She took off back ahead of me, and I thought that perhaps she just needed someone to wake her up. She slowed again and I encouraged her once more and asked her if she'd like to run with me. I told her we could talk to keep our minds off of the pain of finishing. We chatted for a couple of moments, but on one of the uphills she couldn't go anymore and unfortunately she slowed to a walk again.

Soon I saw another guy about my size who was slowing to a walk. I said "Come on man, you got this, you're almost done." He replied, "Ok, I'm going to run with you." We chatted for a few moments, and I could tell he was struggling. I tried to talk about non-running things to keep his mind off of the race. He said his name was Kyle and he lived in Atlanta. When he seemed like he was struggling, I kept encouraging him, letting him know how close we were to the finish. We got to the 13 mile marker, and Kyle hit a burst of adrenaline and took of from me. I tried to chase him down, but on this day I was his Appollo Creed. He finished 2 seconds ahead of me.

I don't know if I actually helped him or not, but I'd like to think I did. One day I'll be out there wanting to walk in the late stages of the race and I'd hope someone would do the same for me. An encouraging word goes a long way when you've got the late race brain fog.

I was ecstatic with my finish time. 1:46:49. My 2nd fastest half marathon EVER. I really couldn't believe it.

In the aftermath, I was trying to reconcile how this was possible. With few purposeful miles, how did I keep up such a pace with these hills and heat? My wife, the wise woman that she is, reminded me...I've been putting in some serious time doing squats, one legged squats, Bosu ball squats, squats with resistance bands, one legged jump squats, and various other core exercises. Could it be that it takes both miles AND core/balance/strength work to be a great runner? Who would have ever thought such a thing?!?!

I think I owe my Physical Therapist a big thank you. "Harmony, if you're reading this I told you that one day I'd thank you for these circuits of torture that you put me through...I didn't know it would show up this soon. Thank you. You'll be happy to know, I'm less sore today than through your last circuit of pain last week. Thanks for doing what you do, teaching me and not letting me off easy."

Hopefully, I'm starting to get it. Running will only take me so far. I must train my core, train my balance and become stronger to get to where I want to be.

Most importantly of all, after these two weekends, I think I've found my mojo again.

Oh, and one more big shout out - Happy Birthday to my sister, Candice!  You are an awesome sister and friend. I'm sure your pep talk as I was walking out the door was the true key to my success! Love ya!   (Sorry for all the torture I put you through as a kid, but just remember how strong it made you.) 

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention...

Another February rolls around, and my old friend I.T. Band makes his annual visit.

If you've followed my story (even before the blog started) you'll know that after starting my running journey in August of 2009, I started my first 10K race and in the early stages felt a twinge on my outer knee. I had no idea what it could be, and like many newbie runners...I simply ran through it. (No pain, no gain am I right?). After limping around the weekend, I went to the doctor on Monday to get an education about what an Illiotibial Band was. I wound up on a physical therapist's table for about 4 weeks without running in an effort to build flexibility and strength in my legs.

Less than one year later, and rapidly diminishing use of IT band stretches, my old friend makes an unannounced visit during a 10 mile race in February at mile 6. Instead of ignoring to him, I succumb to him and walk the rest of the way. That's perhaps one of the smartest decisions I ever made, as I believe it did not aggravate it to the point it did in the previous year. I had recently made my own foam roller because I heard it was a good tool to use for all sorts of running ailments.

I can only describe the feeling of using a foam roller for the first time on this with a tight IT Band as blinding, searing, excruciating, make you want to wet your pants and scream for mercy pain. I'm not too much of a man to admit that there were tears. Not Saving Private Ryan tears but tears nonetheless. Somehow I endured this pain long enough to offer some relief to it, and began using the foam roller on a nightly basis for the next several months.

Using the foam roller kept me "healthy" in 2011.

...or so I thought.

You may remember from my Charleston Marathon Recap I mentioned some hip flexor pain. I developed this pain on several of my longer (3 hour plus) runs including my marathons, but never any runs under 18 miles or so, regardless of the pace.

After Charleston I decided that I needed professional help if I was ever going to do another marathon. I want to run one and feel like I was up to the task for all 26 miles. Unfortunately in each of my three previous marathons, I wilted like a flower in the last 10K.

I check in with my old friends over at Proaxis Therapy a couple of weeks ago to help me figure out where the problems lie with my hip-flexors/abductors. My wife has been going to Proaxis for quite some time as she is in an epic battle with the Greek Warrior Achilles. After every visit she told me how awesome her therapist was, so I schedule an appointment with her. I explain my issues to our therapist and she listens intently to my problems. She asks a few questions, asks about my future running goals, then goes to work on me. She stretches here, stretches there...massages a bit... (hey I could get used to this kind of pampering) and then decides on my diagnosis.

Any guesses on what it is?? IT Band? NO...of course not. I'm foam rolling so my IT Bands are great thankyouverymuch. Besides, the problem is on the inside of my thigh, not the outside. Gotta be some kind of hip-flexor type issue. Guess again. Trust me, I have been all over WebMD...I know what I'm talking abo--

Diagnosis: Tight IT Bands.

Seriously? Here is where I get an education on how that the human body works as a SYSTEM and is completely interconnected. Apparently you can't just point at the anatomy of the human body and start working on that part. Go figure.

You know on a car if your wheels are out of alignment your two front tires might be pointed in opposite directions?
Your car will still get you to where you want to go. You might have a vibration, you might not even feel it at low speeds...but eventually you're going to have to pay the piper when the tire guy comes in and says you need a brand new set of radials.

This is where I am. Our working theory is that my IT Bands are tight and have a constant pull outward on my legs. My abductor muscles are trying to compensate for this pull and keeping them in line. This symbiotic relationship works for about 3 hours. At the conclusion of the 3 hours, the abductor muscles say "Screw this noise, we're done for today." They then decide to pack up and leave for the day, leaving me 5-6 miles from the finish line.

And so, for the 3rd consecutive year, I am battling IT nemesis. I should feel good about it though, I seem to be improving on how quickly I identify them as an issue..SCORE! (Mar 10, Feb 11, Jan 12). Let's hope this trend doesn't continue.

Where does that leave me? It leaves me doing familiar stretches from 3 years ago, and exercises that humble me to my core. (Get it? Core? #Fitnesshumor) I'm trying to stand on a Bosu Ball and do squats. Leg lifts while doing a plank. Reverse plank thingys with my feet up on an exercise ball, rolling it under my butt....OH and today I did some of these...
Not an actual picture of Randy Coffee, but close enough.
If anyone ever says or insinuates that running a marathon somehow equates you with being in "great shape"...I think I'm going to punch them right in the mouth. These are some of the most difficult and maddening exercises I have ever done, and it really gives me a sense that I've got to do more than just run if I want to go beyond 20 miles.

I'm learning my lesson kids, and I'm taking my lumps...stretching is important....strengthening your core is important. I can't do it all by running alone.*

So while I may not be very talkative on the blog or on DailyMile, just know that I'm out here still plugging along. I'm going to get better at this, and I am going to FINISH STRONG.

Please tell me I'm not the only runner in the history of marathons to think all I have to do is run...right? Anyone?

*my wife is laughing maniacally..saying "I told you so."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Charleston Marathon Recap

You know, most bloggers post things pretty quickly after they happen. Obviously I'm not like most bloggers.

If you've followed me on DailyMile or Twitter since the Marine Corps Marathon, you probably know that I've had quite a struggle with motivation, and getting excited for the Charleston Marathon. I am still yet to put my finger on it yet, but motivation and excitement really didn't ever show up like I expected. I suppose waking up every single day with a difficult marathon plan staring you in the face got old.

While in Charleston for the Francis Marion Half in September, the group of three couples decided it would be a great plan for us all to do a race at the Charleston Marathon! So we decided that's what we were going to do. When the final deadline came to sign up in early December, I signed up me and my wife (who was still hurt at the time). Me for the full, her for the half and expected my friends to register for their races as well.

I was quite frustrated at signing up for Charleston, because I paid $10 in "processing fees" for our registrations. This made me ridiculously upset. I sat here and looked at a post card with all their rates for 3 months, and nowhere did it say that there would be an additional 6.5% of random "additional fees". Its like buying a race entry through Ticketmaster or something. (Ticketmaster is the Devil)

This is considered strike one for the race.

As I circled back with my friends, I found out that they were all either injured or now not planning to I found out that my wife still couldn't run because of her nagging Achilles injury. So it was just me. With my horrible training up to that point, I decided that I'd just downgrade to the half, and not pressure myself.

Now I should warn you at this are about to take a look into the unreasonable psyche of a crazy person. It is not pretty. You have been warned....

I logged on to the Charleston Marathon site to "downgrade" (read: I've already paid an additional $20 for a race than I'll be running). When I get ready to click "save" on my change, the site asks me for another $10 DOLLARS. I hit the roof. Let's recap.

Registration fee for the Full-$85
"Processing fee" for the Full-$5.35
Registration fee for the Half-$65
"Processing fee" for the Half-$4.35
"Processing fee" for the DOWNgrade-$10

I feel like I'm hemorrhaging money to this event. Now comes the crazy person part...

"Rather than giving them the extra $10, I'll just run the full marathon out of spite."

I actually said those words. 13.1 extra miles. Poor training. FOR. TEN. DOLLARS. Are you understanding now the kind of person you're dealing with here?

This is strike two for this race

Training went ok. I did get a 20 miler in, but it was about 6 weeks from the race. I did as much as I could based on what I was dealing with on motivation. Off to Charleston we go. My friend Greg who had not trained much at all said he would run with Christy's bib for the Half. The two of us were quite a pair...both of us unprepared, just going to run We loaded up the van arrived to the "expo" near the finish line of the race in North Charleston.

We walk in, and I truly cannot describe what we saw. It looked like an old school revival tent. My wife described it as if we had just went into a rodeo. Why? Because there was a haze of dirt everywhere. This tent is dimly lit over uneven grass dirt ....(do sprained ankles and marathons go together?).
There was a thick dust covering all of the merchandise everywhere. The poor guy selling sunglasses spent his entire expo wiping down his glasses. This is not the kind of environment you want to be breathing before 26.2 miles.

We wound our way around the perimeter to get into the line for the packet pickup. Except the line was only for the half marathoners. No line for the full. They had the registrations separated by alphabet, but each station was taking anyone who would come up. So the person working the A-G line, would leave her spot to rummage for somebody's name beginning with a V. Complete chaos.

Just as I was ready to leave, the event got a shot in the arm with some real classy business. A full orchestra decided to show up..

Ode to Joy.. gets better...then the ballet starts...
Yes. An orchestra AND a ballet in a dusty rodeo tent.
By this time I've had enough, and decided to pack it in for the evening. We arrive in Mount Pleasant at our friend's house and make plans for the next day. After a great meal and a good night's sleep, it was race day! Forecast was in the high 30's to start, rising to the low 50's. Perfect, right? Well except for the winds, which were 10 MPH with gusts up to 20 MPH.

We were able to park right by the race start...which was a miracle. I got right out and got into the port-a-john lines which were huge. (Dear Race Directors, you CANNOT have too many Port-a-Johns).When the gun went off, guess where I was? Yep 2 people away from getting into the toilet. It was a chip timed race, so I tried to calm myself down and chill out that I missed the "official start". It wasn't like I was going to set any records today anyway. When I got to the start, there were runners still filing through the start line, so I just hopped in with my pal Greg and off we went. I wished him good luck, and I started working my way through the crowd.

Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in all of the world in my opinion. Some people say that the best way to really get to know a city is to run 26.2 miles through it. None of those people work for the Charleston Marathon. Within the first 3 miles, we got to run past Rainbow Row...and the battery, which is gorgeous. The sun coming up over the harbor is just a beautiful sight to see. We then take a hard right and leave town, just as quickly as we can. What comes next can only be described as lonely, desolate, destitute, industrial blight, and the color gray. We ran through every ghetto neighborhood in the Charleston Area. When we weren't in bad parts of town, we were running alongside railroad tracks beside abandoned warehouses. Now how many spectators do you think were out and about in all of that?

By the time we reached about mile 11, the half marathoners peeled off, and it REALLY got lonely. I thought about that $10. I was about to earn it. We spent the next couple of hours running through a series of out and backs through neighborhoods, deserted parks and around public school buildings. We'd have the occasional high school marching band. It seemed that every time I passed one, they were finishing up, or on break.

Around mile 16 or 17, I caught up with one of my running group buds from our Saturday Morning group runs. We chatted for a while, and it helped to get my mind off of hurting so bad. I was in bad shape. My strategy had been to stay in the low 9's for the entire race. I had bounced between 9-9:15 through mile 16.

An angel visited me at mile 17. A real live angel...and no I'm not hallucinating. I saw my wife who gave me my next nutrition bottle, and she ran with me for a half mile or so. She told me that Greg had finished the half with a new PR and that I was doing great. I told her that I was actually dying. Like "Remember where the will and life insurance policies are" dying. "Kiss the kids for me" dying. She laughed, and told me I could do this, gave me some encouragement, and told me I'd see her at mile 20.

I could make it to 20, that's all I had to do. 3 more miles, and I could see her again. Thankfully during those 3 miles I had something to help keep my mind off things. I call him "Squeaky Shoe Guy". It almost sounded as if he was wearing wet sneakers on a tile floor. EVERY. STEP. I couldn't shake this guy. Squeak, squeak, squeak.How was he dealing with this annoyance all this time?!? It was making my ears bleed.

Honestly I can't remember if I passed him, or he passed me, or if I just dreamed him. Over those next three miles my pace slowed to a high 9's pace (9:41, 9:48, 9:57). I think you can see where this is going.

By the time I hit mile 20, I was toast. I did have my fan club to run with a while. First Greg ran with me for a bit, telling me about his half. In less than a half mile, I saw Greg's wife Jacci and our friend Amy. They each took time running alongside me, trying to keep my mind off of the stupidity of what I was doing and how close I was to being finished. Amy kept commenting on what an amazing thing it was that I was running a marathon. Honestly at the time it felt a bit foolish.

About the time I saw Amy and Jacci we began the "Death Slog". I really didn't know how far this out and back was, but with every step I was hating it more and more. Amy ran with me for what seemed like a mile, and I could see runners coming back in the other direction as far as I could see. This is just cruel. Time was out the window at this point (as if it was ever truly a concern) I just wanted it to be over. Mile 21-23 10:10, 10:19, 10:22. I started eating everything that people were handing me..which at one point I think  was a bear claw. (Did I dream that too?)

The death slog is strike three for this race.

We reached the end of this double fenced road on an industrial complex at mile 23.5. Oh good, now I have to run it again. BONUS I had not noticed the wind on the way out, because it was at my back. Now I'd have to run the last 3 miles with it MY FACE.Miles 24, 25 12:33, 11:50. I had begun walking on and off. This had to be the most miserable end to a race in the history of humankind.

Christy joined me somewhere on mile 25, and was running with me (against her physical therapists orders). I looked at my Garmin and estimated that I was about a half mile away, so I took everything I had in me and put it into that last last 0.46mi-8:16 pace.

Between the wind and the terrible course, this was not a good day. I finished about 20 minutes off my PR. That's what you get when you don't prepare well I suppose.

I knew going in that there were out and backs, and that last year there was some negative feedback about the course, and that in the 2nd year the organizers would have done more to add entertainment along the awful parts of the course. Apparently that was not the case. I learned my lesson. If you have an out and back as the last 10K of a race, I. WILL. NOT. RUN. IT. Live and learn I guess.

I've got some work to do on my marathons. In each of the 3, I've wilted like a rose in the heat of the summertime on the last 10K, no matter the speed I'm running. Particularly feeling it in my hip flexors once I get over 3 hours. I'm taking some time off seeing a Physical Therapist, and see about hitting another full in the fall if I have a good training cycle. I'd just like to run one with a consistent pace. Patience was never my strong suit.
Me and my "Angel"
All in all, despite my glass half empty sarcasm and humor, I had a great weekend with some truly special people, and spent a few hours of it on a marathon course. I am not joking when I say that I would not have finished this marathon without my wife, my friends, Greg, Jacci, Amy and John. They all did everything they could to keep me going out on the course. It is a humbling feeling to know that you are loved so much by people that they'd take their time and get involved with a stupid endeavor with you. Heck, mine even made signs saying "Suck it up buttercup!" That's the mark of true friends. I'm a lucky matter what the clock says.