Finally… a run

I survived the weekend and came out the other side feeling much better.  My recent bout of sickness culminated Friday with me leaving work early and crashing at home.  I thought some fresh air and a slow walk would help, but… Nope… I started out and then headed home and got rest.

The weekend was not restful however.  Saturday I went with RS to get a new TV for his room, JR got a new bed and HM got tires for his car.  That was just the major parts of the day.  I must say, through I wasn’t feeling great, I was better.

Sunday found me running again.  I don’t think I went too soon.  I felt good, it was a beautiful day and so TJ and I went to the park to run a few miles.  I had hoped to get in about 6 or so, but could only manage 4.  I still have some congestion in my chest which the run helped, but it also impacted my ability to run further.

So I am 90% better.  I don’t want to have a relapse, but I think I am past that.  I must say, this was the first time in my memory of the past few years that a cold knocked me down for a week. It was pretty rough overall.  I looked so bad on Friday that my boss made me go home early from work.  That was a first also.

Today finds me tired, but doing much better.  I really want to get back to my running schedule as I have a half marathon in 7 weeks.

By the way,, the weather today is going to be strange here in the deep South.  It was in the mid 50’s when I got up.  By lunch we will be in the 30’s and by the time I run this afternoon we will be back in the 40’s.  All we need is snow to make this a perfect day. 🙂

The rest of the story

The Lehigh Valley Marathon was special for me in that I finished it.  As I was running near mile 23, I thought to myself, “If I finish this, I bet this will be one of those moments that flash before my eyes right before I die.”  Funny what you think about when your body is close to collapse. 🙂

This post is about the unusual occurrences that happened before and after the marathon.

First, wanting to be careful and make sure we know where we were going, TJ and I drove to the Lehigh Valley Hospital Saturday afternoon.  I looked it up in my GPS and we drove there fairly easily.  We ran around a large parking lot for 2 miles and drove home.  I felt better knowing where we would be going in the morning.

That morning I woke up at 3:00 AM and never went back to sleep.  We left the hotel at 5:45 to get to the marathon starting line at 6:00.  We drove there fairly easily other than a traffic jam (at 5:50 AM on a Sunday morning).  They were working a bridge on the Interstate and had a lane shut down.  But we still managed to get to the hospital by 6:00.

Hmmm.  There was no one there.  No police, no runners, just a hospital.  My stomach sank.  We were at the wrong Lehigh Valley Hospital.  TJ figured out where the OTHER hospital was and I looked it up on my GPS.  Fifteen minutes later, we were at the right hospital, in another traffic jam.  Talk about nerve wracking!  We were 45 minutes away from the start and stopped in traffic trying to get to the parking lot.

We finally got to the parking lot and ran for the porta potties.  There were a total of 6.  We waited another 20 minutes, did our business and headed to the starting line.

Marathon Starting Line

Marathon Starting Line

They counted down the start and we were off.

(See Finishing the race! for details of our run).

The finish line was chaotic for me.  I just crossed and couldn’t hear anything because of the loud speaker and people and just lots of noise.  I told my mom and brother (that I had FaceTimed a few minutes before the finish) that I had to hang up (since I couldn’t hear them) and hung up on them.  Then I looked up and TJ was coming towards me.  He was a sight for sore eyes.

Just finished

Just finished

Getting Finisher's Medal

Getting Finisher’s Medal

I got my finishers medal and a water and just tried to make sense of the situation.  TJ suggested I go to the medic tent and get checked out.  I didn’t look very good I guess.

The medic tent was well done.  I got and IV after 3 needle pricks and laid there for an hour while it filled me up with fluids.  I felt badly for TJ having to sit and watch me get an IV for an hour, but he never complained.  Finally, I got up SLOWLY and we walked out to find the shuttle back to the starting line.

This is where everything went wrong.

TJ and I literally limped to get the shuttle.  The race is run in a straight line, so we were a half hour away from our car.  No one could tell us where to go to get the shuttle, but just pointed us in a general direction.  We finally found the spot…  Two hundred marathon runners stood in a line for a shuttle.  We waited about 10 minutes and the first shuttle pulled up.  It was tiny.  Probably 20 seats total.  It filled up with some runners and took off.

At this point I was becoming desperate.  I had to check out of my hotel in an hour and my 2 youngest sons were waiting for me.  On top of this, my phone battery died and TJ’s had only 4%.  I had to get back to the hotel to get a shower and head to my mom’s birthday party 3 hours away.  I walked around SLOWLY and looked for anyone I could ask for help.  I saw a police officer and told him my situation.  I asked if I could get a cab.  He said the wait for cabs was really long.  He was nice, but no real help (not that there was anything he could do).

A half hour after the first shuttle left, another shuttle arrived.  This was a full sized bus.  The line made progress.  A half hour later the tiny shuttle showed back up and took a few people.  There were probably about 50 people in front of us to get the next shuttle.  I should be able to make it.

I love runners.

We all stood in line after running 26.2 miles and everyone talked, laughed and waited.  A nice lady in front of me lent me her phone so I could call the hotel and my kids.  It was getting late and I had to make a decision.  Did I make my boys pack the room and sit in the lobby until I got back or did I bite the bullet and stay another night in the hotel.  It was now 1:00 PM.  I knew it would take 30 minutes to get back to the starting line if I could get on the next bus.  Then it would take about 15 minutes to drive back to the hotel.  I knew what I had to do.  I called the hotel, paid for another night and had HR call my Lovely Wife and let her know we were staying.  She called my mom and told her we would miss her birthday.

Now the frustrating part of the day.  We waited for the bus.  We stood in the sun for another hour with no shuttle and no explanation.

Nothing.

A runner forced suggested we move the line to the sidewalk where there was some shade, so everyone reluctantly moved.  As we waited on the sidewalk by the main road, one runner held out a $20 bill to passing cars asking them to give him a ride.  Finally one stopped and loaded about 4 people.  Everyone cheered.  We all talked, vented, stood, sat and baked in the sun.

Finally a guy came up with a couple cases of bottled water.  That was nice.  But we still stood with no bus.  In fact 2 large buses went past and just kept going.  Talk about some upset runners.

Finally a bus came by and stopped.  Cheers.  Only 2.25 hours later.  We started to load.  I wasn’t sure I could get on this one, but I knew I would give it a try, even if I had to sit in the toilet.  Then another bus pulled up behind the first bus.  BUT… It didn’t wait for the first bus to load and then move up, it just opened its door.  So we were in the back of the first line and others were loading in the other bus.  I was an unhappy camper.  Fortunately, TJ and I made it on the very back of the first bus.  People were actually sitting in the isles.

30 minutes later we were back to our car.  3:00 PM, 3 hours after we got in line, we arrived back at the hotel.

I wrote the race director and asked about the transportation issue.  They were apologetic and gave me a free pass for next years marathon.

Sorry for the long post.  I wanted to get all this out.  I must say that although it was a tough afternoon, I met so many great people.  Exhausted runners standing for hours and smiling.  Everyone was great.  It wasn’t fun waiting and I was upset to miss my mom’s 85th birthday, but I will remember this marathon for a long time to come!!!

Hangin’ with “The Dog” and tryin’ to taper

Just hanin’ with the dog this morning and resting after my 5 mile run. I was able to get out and get my run in before it got too hot, but it was not a great run and the reason for that goes back to yesterday’s run with Neill…

"The Dog" hiding?

“The Dog” hiding?

First, my hangin’ with “The Dog” picture of the week. This is courtesy of my eldest son. “The Dog” loves to be under things and in tight places. TJ got her from the Humane Society and she had been abused as a puppy. She was 8 weeks old when we got her. She is a great dog and a great addition to our family, even when she hiding (or thinks she is hiding). 🙂

On to yesterday’s run. I really enjoy running with Neill. We have a great time talking and he is a strong Christian, which is always encouraging. Our run went well overall, but we both had problems to overcome.

My problem was with my left foot. The top of my foot where my laces tie started getting sore. I tired to just run through it, but it became more and more noticeable. Finally at a Gatorade stop, I loosened my shoelace and that seemed to help, but it was still sore. This is the issue I had today also. That muscle on the top of my foot seems just be aggravated, which is bothering since I hope to run 26.2 miles at this time next week.

I may, in my taper, just not run a couple of days and let my whole body heal. I know that just about everyone would agree with that plan, but my head says no. In the end, what a fellow runner at work told me was good advice. He said, “You want to get to the starting line feeling 100% and like you could run the best race of your life”. That is my new goal. Besides, there isn’t anything riding on this race and as long as I finish, it is a PR!

So on to the final week before my marathon. TJ and I are excited and hope to do well. We head to PA on Friday morning about 4:00 AM with HM and RS. RS wanted to run the marathon, but he is too young according to their rules.

I hope you all have a great week ahead and please, run some miles for me. 🙂

Retro Run 5K race recap

Wow, what a weekend.

To being with, our vow renewal went awesome Friday afternoon.  We had a great family time all of the day.

One thing I learned…

5 pieces of Pizza Hut pan pizza + 1 milk shake + hot weather + run immediately after = a really hard 4 mile run.  🙂

On to our 5K race yesterday.  I really had fun.  It was Birmingham in July at 6:00 in the evening and it was just under 80 degrees.  At the starting line it began to rain, which felt nice, but into the race a bit, it got very humid and hard to breath.

All in all I had a good race.  I didn’t know what to expect since I haven’t run much the past two weeks.  But I ended up coming in at 22:04 which is my second best 5K race time, so I am happy with that.

TJ, RS and my friends Neill (@bigBigGeek) and David (@David_Topping) all did really well.  Neill and David both set PR’s.  On a warm humid evening like yesterday, that is amazing.  TJ did incredible.  Just shy of his PR, but he has also run 360 miles in the past month.  I don’t know how he does it.  JR and HM both came to watch and cheer us on.  That is always a nice thing and really helps.  Thank you both!!  My Lovely Wife was home with her bad back, but she kept up with calls and texts.  I really missed her there, but I understand why she couldn’t sit there for 2 hours.

Today is normally my long day.  After averaging near a 7 minute mile for 5K just 14 hours ago, I may take today off or just go out for a short run later.  I haven’t run under an 8 minute mile since May and my legs are feeling it this morning.

Tomorrow starts a new week and hopefully I’ll be going back to my 45 – 55 mileage.  Marathon in 7 weeks.  Oh my!

Vacation / running / record month

It was a great weekend thanks to HM.

For Father’s Day HM took my lovely wife and myself to Chattanooga, TN.  He paid for the hotel, food and gas.  It was a great time and nice to get away for a couple of days.

Of course, as I planned this trip, I had to figure out where to run.  I looked online and found out that there is a bike/pedestrian path that runs next to the river appropriately called, “Riverwalk”.  So Saturday morning at 6:00 I went out to find this Riverwalk and to run my 8 miles.

It took a while for me to find the beginning of the main path, but some nice people on bikes pointed me in the right direction and I was on my way.

I had a great run.  It was beautiful, peaceful, and the course was relatively flat, especially compared to my neighborhood.  Here are some images I took with my phone as I ran…

The Riverwalk path

The Riverwalk path

The view from the Riverwalk path

The view from the Riverwalk path

My run on Saturday went really well.  I took Friday off running as I had run the 9 days prior and we had to travel after I got off of work.  So Saturday my legs were fresher and I felt much better than I had the past week.  It also didn’t hurt that it was about 30 degrees cooler than the last day I ran in my neighborhood.  So I pushed myself a bit, which I haven’t done in a while because of the heat.  I worked a few miles at trying to keep my marathon pace and was fairly successful.  To be honest, if it weren’t for my trying to find this path in the beginning, I would have averaged in the 8:00 – 9:00 range for the whole 8 miles.  Alas I ended up at 9:02 pace which isn’t bad.  In fact it is the best pace I have had since the heat kicked in serval weeks ago.

Sunday was different.  I woke up at 3:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I really didn’t “feel” like running.  I was tired and sore, but I went out anyway and ran the Riverwalk.  It wasn’t nearly as fun, but I still managed a 9:58 pace for 8 miles.  My goal was to run 15 miles, but I ran out of time as we had to eat and check out of the hotel.  Also I was just tired and couldn’t do the extra miles, even after we got home yesterday afternoon.  So, sadly I missed my first 200 mile month by 7 miles.  Still it was my first month over 150 miles, so 193 isn’t shabby.

Looking forward, I think I will cut back this week and try to let my body heal.  My achilles is better, but did bother me yesterday.  Also during my Thursday run/walk in 101 degree heat, I wasn’t paying attention and tripped in a crack in the sidewalk.  I lunged forward and had to catch myself.  It really messed with my left hip which hasn’t been a problem since the half marathon in February.  It was better Saturday, but much worse on Sunday and last night I woke up in pain.

So, with 1o weeks to go to my marathon, I am having to pull my training back to recover.  On the bright side, it is not supposed to get out of the mid 80’s here for the next week.

Today is another planned off day and I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

Thanks again HM for the trip!

Thank you note to my family, friends, bloggers, runners, etc…

Yesterday was my off day, so I just walked 2 miles and went home to rest.

I thought I would take a moment to say some things about my gratefulness to my family, friends and fellow bloggers who read this blog.  So this isn’t a running blog post for the most part.

I so appreciate the support of my family; my Lovely Wife, kids, mother and brothers.  They are all supportive and caring.

My Lovely Wife, as I have mentioned, has lost a lot of weight and is still working diligently to keep it off.  I know it is a constant battle that I don’t have to face as I can run and keep my weight down most of the time, but with her back problems, she has to do it all through diet and will power!  She has always been supportive of my running.  Even now that it takes about two hours a day to get ready to run, do my run and then cool down outside with the dog, she never complains or makes me feel like I am taking too much time away (I hope that is a good thing :)).  She always tells me to run fast, don’t get hurt and have a good run before I leave.  She comes to most of our races and sits and waits patiently as we prepare, then run and then cool down.  I can’t say enough how much she means to me and how much I appreciate her and her support.  I couldn’t get to where I am today without her.

My kids have been great also.  The ones who run, TJ and RS are always asking me how my runs go and how I am doing.  I really enjoy when we can run together, even though it isn’t often because we all run at different paces, but it is a great time when we can.  My kids who don’t run (yet) BL, JR and HM are also supportive and come to my races and ask me how my running is going.  I am so appreciative of them and their encouragement.

I also appreciate my Mom and brothers who read my blog and are excited as I pass new milestones.  Both my brothers run and though my mother can’t, she is familiar with the sacrifice as my late father and sister were both runners back years ago.  I guess I owe my running to my late father who started it all in his mid 50s.  He just one day got out there in his running shoes and started running.  My siblings followed after and they all ran the Marine Corps Marathon in DC each year.  I do wish my dad and sister could be here to see me run, but they do see I believe.  I couldn’t do it without their inspiration.

Finally, thank you to the blogging / tweeting community of runners and dieters and friends who follow my blog and twitter and encourage me.  I don’t have a Facebook and frankly didn’t tell many people about my blog.  I now have over 70 followers and have had views from over 45 countries.  Quite amazing to me.  I know I can get repetitive with my posts at times, but that is what running is about.  Doing the same thing day after day after day.  Anyway, thank you to all who read my blog, comment and like my posts.  It is very encouraging and give me motivation to improve and move forward.

Okay that is all for today.  I just wanted to take a post and give my gratitude and appreciation for all the support.  I could not be more thankful to have this blog.

Thank you!!!

Spring Scramble 5K pre-race update

I had a great run yesterday.  5 miles with no pain and a lot of fun.  It was the perfect run to have right before my big 5K race on Saturday,.

I must admit that I am still a little nervous about Saturday’s race.  I really want to PR it and I would love to get below 21:00.  My race PR is 22:10 and my neighborhood PR is 21:29.  Time will tell.

Today is my off day before the race.  I usually run much better after an off day and I hope that will help.  The unknown is my running shoe.  My Saucony A5’s had to be returned with a hole in the sole, so I am going to be running in Asics Piranha’s for the race.  I’ve run in them twice so far.  Once was last week as we ran the course to get the lay of the land.  The other time was 2 days ago when I did a hard workout.  The shoes seemed to be sloppy on my feet and started causing a lot of pain on the bottom of my foot.  I think I had them tied too loosely and when I tightened them, they seemed better.  It is a little concerning though since I don’t want to be in the middle of the race and be in pain from and unknown shoe.

Tonight we do our pre-race routine.  Chicken caesar salads with macaroni and cheese.  I can thank by big brother for that since at a 5K we ran last year in Pennsylvania he and his wife made that for dinner the night before and we have eaten it before each race ever since.  We’ve since added watching Seinfeld, “The Race” during dinner – just to get motivated :).

TJ and I are healthy but RS and HM are getting over a bug as is my Lovely Wife, so I don’t know who exactly will be showing up tomorrow.  Either way, it will be fun and hopefully I’ll be prepared.  There will be several people running from my work and @bigbiggeek is coming so that will be fun.

I’ll try to post a short update after the race.

Tom