Thursday, January 17, 2008

Twenty-Six Point Two

Event weekends for Team in Training are special. You train hard for months. Fund raise your tail off. Then before you know it your on a plane. Thankfully things are busy building up to the race. Meetings, race expo, and then my favorite, the pasta party. TNT throws a big banquet for all the racers, complete with fantastic speakers and great food. During the night you see the pictures of all the people from around the country that you are racing for. There are people we are racing in honor of and people we race in memory. Adams picture flashed at all three races and it hit me like a ton of bricks every time. It's just so crazy that he's gone. My emotions range from disbelief, that he's gone, to pride, "that's my bro, what an amaizing man." Each pasta party I made a choice to channel those emotions to good come race day.
This pasta party hit me extra hard because the weight and sacrifice of all three events hit hard. So many letters. So many inspiring responses. So many miles of training. I was there and the race was just hours away.

This was my first marathon, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I could run a good race but how good? I did the Las Vegas half Dec. 2 and finished 1:31, but that's half. I gave that race everything I had. That weekend was our honored team mate Mckenna's funeral. McKenna was just 10 and delt with cancer since she was two. She was a princess and loosing her really hit me hard. I didn't know her, but things like that shouldn't happen to kids. Parents shouldn't have to deal with burying a child. Reality is painful, life is hard and certainly not fair. I am thankful there is more that this life. I am thankful we have a choice to be better and not bitter.
I ran the Las Vegas half with all I had. After the race my legs felt weak. I knew that I would have to train a lot harder if I expected to do that for 26.2.
So I did. No skipping runs during the week. I followed my training schedule and come Phoenix my legs felt strong. My coach said that typically you can double your half marathon time and add ten minuets and that will give you a close finish time. I knew I had a chance. But what would happen after mile 20?

Everyone I have ever talked to about a marathon has always told me their horror stories about what happens after mile 20. Your body is trained for 20, it's after that when it gets tricky.
My race prep all weekend felt great. Food was good, sleep was good enough. Great focus and a new "race" hair cut, the mo-hawk. I felt fast anyways? I had written Adams name in big letters on my left forearm in black sharpie marker. On my right I wrote Dan (my mentor/pastor who was taken by cancer in 03). On my wrist was a pink silk "princess" bracelet that I tied on and on another bracelet I wrote McKenna. As a team we painted our finger nails and toe nails pink. I wimped out and just did my thumbs and pinkies. It still looked fast! I knew that when people would cheer for me I would raise my arms and they would see why I'm running. What a gift that turned out to be.
At each big race there are "pace" people that will finish exactly what their jersey sign says. So if you want a 3:10 time you run with that guy and you will finish at 3:10. That was my plan. Don't think just follow. I am a classic over-thinker so this is a good thing. Race starts and I felt good. The pace felt do-able....that was mile one. Mile two my shins started to feel tender. Mile three they felt hot. I was nervous.....keep running, pray it goes away. Mile four was better. Mile five better yet, but now I had to pee! I didn't want to stop once. Now I gotta go. I knew at some point I would have to take care of that because it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. I was feeling really good at this point, (around mile 8) my plan was to pace ahead of the group for a while and quick go. I broke ahead slowly and when I got in front I felt great, strong, like I could keep going at that new pace for the rest of the race. Two problems, we wern't half way done and I had to pee. So I took care of my business by some bushes and watched my 3:10 group go right on by. I really had to go. Finally, done. I was about 100 yards back but I had no panic. I took my time and slowly caught back up. Feeling comfortable, back with the group, I started dreaming how great it felt pulling away, how strong my legs were. I started to wonder how soon was too soon to pull a head for good. Patience, just focus and run.
Man it was fun. There was a live band playing every mile and a school cheer leading squads in between each band. Every time people would see my name on my jersey and cheer me on I raised my arms to Adam, Dan and McKenna and it sent chills up the back of my neck every time. Focus, be smart, save your energy, mile 20 lay ahead!

13.1 came and I took mental stock on how I felt. Those questions of "when should I pull ahead" disappeared. Those thoughts turned into, "can I keep this pace and hold on to this group?" Around then I started to put my nutrition plan into play. I wore a race belt, loaded with 32 ounces of my Gatorade/power mix, and some gummy shot blocks and race goos. Over the next 8 miles I slowly ingested my calories and hydrated. Mile 20 came and I was good.
In the group I was running with were two big, shirtless, tattooed runners. They looked fast and intimidating, they made it look easy. I figured them for cocky runners that were too cool for everyone else. Over the miles they were great. Talking to everyone and making it look too easy. One other thing that caught my eye in our group was a guy that was wearing a real Florida Ironman race jersey. He was a bit older and built like a brick-house. All I know is, I wanna be cool like that.

So happy sticking with the group mile 22 comes and a group of 5 starts to pull ahead. Wouldn't you know. The two tattooed guys and the Ironman jersey were part of the group. I had a second to think about it......and I was gone.
At this point of the race I drew back to the century bike race. I remembered how important drafting was and I figured it could help here too. So I pulled in behind the group of five and pretended like I fit in. I kept my mouth shut and watched what they did. I studied their efficient strides (just like my coach Suzanne had explained earlier in the summer) and followed their lead. I knew I was taking a gamble and did my best to ignore my tired legs. When ever I began to pay attention to fatigue I immediately focused on old memories with Adam. All the adventures, laughter and projects. Eventually you loose that focus and the body reminds you that your tired. Immediately go to the amaizing memories of Dan Roelofs and all the things he taught me. Body flashes back and recall all the generosity and letters that encouraged me to get there. The promise I gave, to give it my all! Body fades back in "Leg's are getting tired here," immediately go to McKenna the reason our team is racing. Run for her memory and her parents in such a hard time of life. That really got me strong. I'm rarely the smartest guy in the room, but I know that running is easier that loosing a child. There was no room for weakness. I will run strong!

Mile 23 a hill is coming. I'm running the loop in my head and the guys are talking about how we were on pace to come in at 3:07. Holy %#@*! I couldn't believe that I was with them, but I was. But slowly I was dropping. They were really picking it up. So, keep pretending and do your best. I'm at this point, back a good 7-8 strides, and one of the tattooed duds slowly drops back. He gets back to me and says "all-right?" I replied "All-right is a good" He says "yea, I'm just all right....thought I would drop pace a little good with that?" I wanted to scream in celebration! I replied "Yea, I guess I could drop a bit."
Guess I could drop a bit?! I was all ready dropping. And here this guy just happens to do it at the same time. I have to say, I do not find this a to be lucky or happen-stance. This happened in all three of my races and all at the crucial gut check times of all three races. I praise my God and King for that stuff because He knew exactly what I needed.
Mile 24 over the bridge. I trained on hills every day, no bother right, but now it's a hill on a 26 mile run. I go back to my mental loop and think about my amaizing wife and our little girl. What a gift! I draw off the little baby growing inside Janet and think it may be a boy. I have to set the bar high. Can't slow up now, gotta set the bar high! Mile 25 took forever. Mentally you know it's over soon but you can't see the finish yet. I hated the end because it was one turn after another and no sight of the finish. Finally someone says, "three more turns and the final stretch." I looked for something left in my tank. I saw empty. I was proud, you never want extra for the final stretch. My coach said from the Disney tri, "If you can sprint for the finish you didn't give enough earlier, make sure you have nothing left. Leave it all on the track!"
I did, I stretched out my stride and picked up what little I had left. My airway got tight as I came down that final stretch. I did not get passed and I raised my arms in joyful triumph as I crossed the finish line.

The phrase I would use to describe how I felt at the finish line is "mentally wiped out." I made it I used everything I had within me, and now I'm done. The emotions of the summer rushed. The emotions of the race flooded. The hole in my heart felt huge. I didn't know where to go or what to do. Race helpers looking at me asking "is everything ok?" Of course I'm ok, I'm done. But my brother is still gone, Dan is gone, Mckenna is still gone. I turned the corner and slouched over a fence and sobbed.
Eventually someone came over and asked if I was going to be all right. I replied, "Oh yeah, it's my first time, and that was a strong finish!"

Finish time 3:08:38
205th / 6489 overall
pace 7:12

I miss you bro!
That is worth running for, training for, fund raising for. We are making a difference. Get excited, Get involved!
If you don't have time to get involved and you want me to keep going. Click on the link at the top of the page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

3:10 to Boston

Marathon weekend.....where do I begin. I just have time to give the quick update. The final event for me this season was the Phoenix Marathon this past Sunday. The weight of so many things encompassed it. At times I felt very overwhelmed but I knew that if I focused properly that I could us it to run a great race.
I had a great time getting to know everyone on the team better, many of them I had never meet for one reason or another. All in all I was very impressed with everyone on the team and very proud that everyone was a finisher. A Hero! A difference maker! I am so proud to be a part of that group!
Our chapter raised close to $100 thousand dollars for cancer research and support. All chapters in total at the race (2000 + racers) raised 3.6 million dollars over the season and that weekend! That is worth running for, training for, fund raising for. We are making a difference. Get excited, Get involved!
I may have run the race of my life because of the things and people that inspired me to run. I promise to share the details of my race because honestly, there was more to it than just my legs moving. My finish time was 3:08:38. That put me 205th overall out of 6489 finishers. 162 out of males and 30th in the age class 30-35. My pace was 7min 12 second miles on average. And I honestly have goosebumps thinking about the amaizing experience it was.
I can honestly say it was the most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever done, and if anything was different that day the results would have been very different.
I am so proud to have honored Adam, McKenna and Dan in this race.
I can honestly say "I gave it my all" to everyone who supported me with your generous gifts and thought, letters and prayers. THANK YOU for getting me there!

I will share pictures and the amaizing thought and details soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Golden Birthday!

Happy Golden Birthday Bijou!

I'm hoping that the phrase, "better late than never" applies. It has been a very busy two weeks around here and I have wanted to get this up since the first, but sacrificing sleep before the big race is not a prudent thing. I must say that Bijou's birthday was very special. Janet and many helping hands worked hard to make it special.
Our theme, being a new year baby, and her name meaning jewel, was "JEWELS."
Pretty original, I know. Crowns, rings, necklaces and other pretty things.
Bijou got in a good afternoon nap and we were ready to party!

My two princesses.

Eventually she forgot about the crown on her head.

Grandma can always get a big smile!

She loved her card's, and sat very patiently while we read to her.

She lover her hat she got from auntie Erin.

Her favorite toy was "Elmo's world cart" from The Bone family. Derby, Brad and Amy
She still can't get enough of it!
Lots of help from Derby and cousin Adison.

Time for the cake!

The moment Janet was fearing. She loved SUGAR!

There is literally nothing she dose not like to eat. And cake was no exception. She was a two fisted little princess once she hit that chocolate cake!

Eventually we had to stop her or I'm pretty sure she would have finished the entire thing.

What a special time it was. It was so neat to see her with everyone who was there. We have been so blessed with Bijou and the special relationships that have blossomed because our precious little girl. Life is so precious, it was before, and it is now. We have experienced so much in the past two years. From deep loss to blessed life. It is so important to give each day, each moment perspective. We serve an awesome, gracious God, who gives us the ability to endure the darkest of valleys, to the most joyful mountain peaks.

Everyday is a chance for new beginnings!
Happy Birthday!