2016 Race #3: Buffalo Half Marathon, Buffalo, NY

Date: May 29, 2016
Gun Time: 1:36:01
Chip Time: 1:35:46
Placing Overall: 88th out of 3838
Placing in Age Group: 6th out of 186 (M40-44)
Theme Song: One Beer“, MF Doom

IMG_20160528_150716631

Let’s go, Buffalo!

Standing there on Saturday in downtown Buffalo in the 90 degree heat, facing the finish line, I will admit to having felt some trepidation.

It was the hottest May 28th on record in the city, and as I trooped up Franklin Street toward the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center to get my race kit with my septuagenarian father, I was thanking my lucky stars that the race organizers had the wherewithal to start the race at 6:30 in the morning when the heat would be less of a factor. My dad solemnly reminded me that complaining about things being too hot would not be tolerated, at least not by him.

“Would you be saying the same thing on a grey, depressing January day?” he asked pointedly. “I think not.”

He was, of course, entirely correct.

The expo itself was smallish in comparison to the ones I’d been to in Toronto and Cleveland, but had everything you would expect, including lots of gear for sale and plenty of other races being advertised. It was pretty much a breeze to pick up my packet, which included a smart, lightweight navy quarter-zip pullover. My dad was impressed with the whole scene, not being a runner himself and never having attended an event like this, although he did mutter a bit about the preponderance of suspiciously fit looking people hanging around the place.

IMG_20160528_150636364

The expo, with the usual accoutrements.

We lingered a while in the sweet, sweet air conditioning, not really wanting to go outside and face the fierce heat and the walk to the hotel, but eventually we capitulated and made our way back, noting the gracious layout of Niagara Square and the hulking, Art Deco masterpiece that is Buffalo City Hall. Buffalo’s got some great architecture, including loads of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, but we unfortunately were here for a pretty quick trip and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to show my father around.

IMG_20160528_154157951_HDR

The iconic Buffalo City Hall.

We did pick a great place for a pre-race meal though – Sun Cuisines is on Niagara Street just off the Thruway north of downtown, and is one of the best Burmese restaurants in Eastern North America. Buffalo has a surprisingly large Burmese community, and since my dad had just been part of a group that successfully brought a Burmese refugee family to Canada, he was keen to go. We gorged on Burmese tea leaf salad, samosas, beef curry and rice, and all of it was fantastic. My father, ever the charmer, talked his way into pictures with the staff and we had a conversation with the ladies at the table next to us about what to eat (one of them was a local elementary school principal, and given my dad taught sixth grade for 28 years they had lots to talk about).

Beef Curry

Sun Restaurant’s freaking off the hook beef curry.

Carbo loaded, we got back to the hotel just as the heavens opened up and an impressive deluge spattered the city. I made preparations and hit the hay, knowing that I’d have to be up early in the morning despite the hotel being a short walk from the start line (my dad had no delusions about being there to see me start the race and said he’d catch me at the finish).

The next morning dawned with clear skies, and temps were in the high 60s as I walked up Delaware to the starting corral. The race organizers had made it a point in the lead up to the race to issue warnings about the impending heat and implore everyone to hydrate properly, slow down, and be safe. This came with a comprehensive race plan to open fire hydrants along the course, have an additional 6000 lbs of ice on hand, and provide mobile trucks with bottled water, additional EMS and nursing staff on the course, and additional ambulances stationed nearby. In other words, we were going to be well looked after.

I felt absolutely tip top, and was itching for the start of this one. My plan was to basically find the 1:35 pacer and stick with him for as long as I possibly could in an effort to get that PR. The weather seemed to be playing ball and I felt like I could get off the course before the heat really became a factor. I soon found the pacer and after the anthems and some fireworks from the start gate, the gun went and we surged out of the corral.

13312670_1151839321549154_859898349467375076_n.jpg

So the race kinda went like this:

First 5K – 21:42 at split

The race for this section took us up Delaware Avenue, around Gates Circle, and briefly into Delaware Park where there was a turnaround. There was a surprising number of people out to cheer the runners on despite the early hour. I ran right beside the 1:35 pacer for a pretty good chunk of this part of the race, but, just like in Toronto, I ended up getting ahead of him when he stopped for hydration at the aid station at Mile 2 and I didn’t. I seem to be making a habit of losing pacers. Anyway, I felt great, but I was trying to hold something back so that I didn’t get completely zonked before the end of the race. As you can see from the split, I was moving, probably faster than I needed to be. There was a bit of a gentle uphill for part of this but mostly it was pretty flat.

Second 5K – 44:14 at split

I mean, geez. This split was faster than the one I did in Toronto, and I was aiming for it to be slower. It didn’t hurt that it felt like the whole section, which was largely run along Linwood Avenue back downtown, was downhill. Also, Buffalo people are great. Loads of encouragement, people handing out Swedish Fish, a random dude in a black bathrobe standing in his driveway and hollering exhortations at us as we went by, a sign that said “If Trump Can Run So Can You”, and lots of other joys along the way. I started hitting every station for hydration from this point as it had started to get a little warm and the sun was beginning to beat down on us. As we reached the 10K split, which was basically right beside where the start line had been, the relay runners were handing off, and I was pretty pleased that I hadn’t yet started envying the ones who were done running.

Third 5K – 1:07:07 at split

This is where things started to get a little tough, though not as early as they did when I ran Toronto. The course bent toward Lake Erie along Prospect Avenue and through some of the urban neighborhoods. Did I mention Buffalo people were awesome? Continued great support, and at one point a guy was standing out in front of his house with a hose for the sole purpose of misting the runners with cool water. We went over a slight rise as we crossed the bridge over the I-190 and turned south along the lake shore. There was a bit of a pickup in the wind here off the water, but not much, and I basically just drafted off people as we headed into La Salle Park. It was at this point around mile 9 that I really started to tire. I was having no problem from a cardio perspective keeping the pace, but my legs were laboring a little bit. Interestingly, the 1:35 pace group caught up to me at this point, and I heard the pacer telling the other runners he was maxed out and wasn’t going to be able to continue holding it, and he ended up dropping off (I talked to him about it after the race and he was pretty bummed). I resolved that I wasn’t going to let this group run away from me and willed the legs to keep going.

Fourth 5K – 1:30:26 at split

Gut check time. The course took us out the spit of land along the Erie Marina and back before bending west back into downtown. You know what I was thinking about, as the heat and humidity were building and my quads and hamstrings were screaming at me to stop? Beer. That’s what. Specifically, that Mile 27 beer brewed just for this race, a big glass of which was waiting for me at the finish. I thought about how cold it would be. How it would hit my throat like a blessing. How beautiful and hoppy it would be, and how it would fill my stomach with its wondrous goodness. It called to me like a shining amber beacon. At the Mile 10 aid station they had towels saturated with icy water which helped revive me, at least for a bit. Miles 11 and 12 seemed to take forever, as those of you who have toughed out those last miles can appreciate, but as soon as I hit the 20K split and saw my time, I knew I had a PR in the bag, and damn if it didn’t feel awesome.

The home stretch – 1:36:01

I was completely gassed by this point, and was just giving it every ounce I had left. I reached the point with a couple of hundred yards to go where the marathoners split off from the half, and looked around for my dad, but didn’t see him (as it turned out, he didn’t see me either and we ended up meeting back at the hotel). I could hear footsteps coming up behind me and thought, no fucking way am I letting anyone beat me to this goddamn finish line. With all the strength I had left I broke into a sprint and crossed the line right at the 1:36 mark. On wobbly legs I wandered over to where the medals were being handed out, and lo and behold, another surprise – it was players from the Buffalo Bills doing it, which was extremely cool (linebacker Randell Johnson gave me mine and he is a VERY big man).

So, I went inside and got that beer. And it was damn fine. There were lots of other goodies on offer as well – tons of fruit, Clif Bars, bagels, Dunkin Donuts coffee, a pretty good spread all in all. I loved this race, and not just because I smoked my PR by 2 minutes. It might be my favorite one I’ve ever done, and it’s all down to the people and volunteers who made it happen. Way to go, Buffalo. I will be back.

IMG_20160529_171401199_HDR

Advertisements

A sporadic January. Plus more plans.

January, ecchhhh.

Running in January is hard for me for a few reasons. I teach 3rd and 4th year undergrad students as part of my university duties, and the only time of year both classes are in the building is in January and February due to the weird co-op schedule. This just means for the first few weeks of the year I am in the shit work wise, if you’ll pardon the expression. It’s hard to find running time when one is working 60+ hour weeks.

Then, there’s the obvious – the weather sucks. No getting around it. So an inordinate amount of time is spent on the hamster wheel, which is a bit disheartening. I do try to bundle up and get out there when I can, but if the footing is crappy (which it usually is) I tend to stay indoors. The dark doesn’t help either. Though Cambridge is kind of pretty in the winter.

 

79287_1

Nice to look at. Not so nice to run in.

My kids are great at sharing. One of the things they share is horrible mutant rhinoviruses from hell. So I’ve also been sick for a big chunk of the month, including a brutal sinus infection that I’m just getting over. I haven’t run in over a week, having seemingly spent most of my time boiling water for sinus irrigation (wouldn’t want the amoebae eating my brain, after all.)

info-sinus

Yeah. Gross.

On the bright side, the toughest part of the year is almost over, and I’ve got my running schedule more or less set. I’m gonna stick with the 12 races per year target I set last year and tentatively things look like this:

Orlando Xtreme 5K, Apopka FL. I know, I know. 5K races aren’t “Xtreme”. There is a half marathon also being run as part of the day which I suppose is slightly more “Xtreme”. I had originally planned to run a race in the Everglades, but the cost of the race plus a 6 hour round trip drive plus the cost of a motel worked out to close to 450 CAD. So, some other time. Damn Canadian Peso. I doubt I’ll be too fast in this one given my lack of January activity, but we’ll call it a tuneup.

Laurier Loop 5K, Waterloo, ON. They moved this race from the fall, and I’m not too sure what the weather will hold for a late March race in Southern Ontario, but who cares. Plan on doing this one as a team with B (the McFastlanes return to strike terror into the field, in other words).

Run for Retina Research OE Canada INC 10k, London, ON. Never run a race in London, but it’s only an hour away. This one looks like it might be pretty good.

Cambridge Mill Race 8K, Cambridge, ON. My local, as previously described.

Buffalo Half Marathon, Buffalo, NY. Buffalo gets a bad rap from some quarters, but I really like it there. There’s way more cool stuff to do and see than it’s given credit for, and Buffalo people are great. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

Peach Bud 10K, Stoney Creek, ON. The main reason for running this one is it’s midweek and fits into my schedule.

KW Run for POGO 5K, Kitchener, ON. I was delighted that they made this race part of the Run Waterloo series, because it’s such a great cause. Doubt I’ll finish in the top 5 again this year though as the level of competition is bound to go up considerably.

B & O Yorkville 5K, Toronto, ON. This time I’ll pay closer attention to the sizing of my race kit.

Harvest Half Marathon, Wellesley, ON. Nice quiet half marathon on country roads north of the city for my second long event of the year.

Oktoberfast Run 10K, Kitchener, ON. For those of you who don’t know, our city has the second biggest Oktoberfest celebration in the world after Munich, due to the huge numbers of German immigrants who settled here. This race has been run for years, is supposed to be very fast, and should be fun (though my suggestion would be beer stations instead of water on the course).

Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon, Hamilton, ON. The big enchilada. At this point, I’ve decided I’m going for it. It’s fast – the #1 BQ marathon in Canada (not that I’m expecting to BQ).

YMCA Jingle Bell 5K, Cambridge, ON. Might as well finish with a local.

This will probably change, but for now, onward and upward. Now, let’s get some more warm weather – it’s 43F here today (7C) so I might actually be able to get out there for a change…

 

My plans for 2016, or, wherefore art thou, marathon?

Well, it’s December here, and I gotta say that we’ve been pretty lucky with running weather as the temperatures for the most part have been several degrees above the norm. I went out and did a 44 minute 10K tempo run today in lovely 40 degree weather with calm winds and it felt great. This isn’t going to last forever, though, and it got me thinking about my race schedule for next year. I’ve got a few things figured out, but I also have a few questions. It’s getting somewhat difficult to work the weekend races in with my wife working 20 weekends a year and no one to watch the kids. Here’s what I know for sure.

  1. My next race is going to be in Florida in February, and it’s going to be in the Florida Everglades. Despite the fact that my dad’s going to be in Central Florida when I visit him, he expressed interest in making the 3 hour trip down to Fakahatchee Strand State Park so that I could do the 25K race that is part of the Everglades Ultras series in late February. This looks super cool, though I may be dodging some gators along the way, and we’ll see if El Nino decides to drench us with rain.
  2. I need a March race, and it’s not gonna be in Costa Rica. We’re heading down to Central America in early March, and I was really hoping to do the 10K race that was part of the Arenal Ultramarathon Series. Unfortunately, we are heading back that weekend and it’s just not going to work. There’s not a lot of choice when it comes to March races in Ontario. In fact, there’s none. Not sure what I’m gonna do about that yet.
  3. I’m going to do another three half-marathon-ish races in 2016. Right now I’ve got the Everglades 25K and the Buffalo Half as targets. I have to pick one out for the fall so that will require some thought. I’d love to travel to one, but have you seen the Canadian Peso’s exchange rate recently? Geesh.
  4. I’m definitely going to do the Kitchener Kids for Cancer Run again. Not only is it a good cause, but it’s now part of the Run Waterloo series, which I was really thrilled to see. They have a 10K this year as well.
  5. There will be another 12 competitive races in the plans for 2016. Don’t know how it’s going to break down yet, but it’s happening.

Here’s what I don’t know for sure (running schedule wise, I mean – there’s lots I don’t know about everything):

  1. Will there be a marathon in 2016? Man, I don’t know. Maybe. I’m gonna see how things go with the spring races. I think if it does happen, it will almost certainly be the last scheduled race in my area, Hamilton Road2Hope.
  2. Would the mystery race please sign in? There’s some talk about a trail race this spring here in Cambridge which sounds pretty killer. Have to see if it will work in my schedule, and indeed if it’s actually going to happen.
  3. Can I finally break the 20 minute barrier in the 5K? Hope so. I just started a new training regimen that’s a lot more formal. We’ll see if it works.
  4. Is this plan to do a series of races in the US National Parks viable? More on this later, but I really like the idea. Plus the family are all keen hikers. It may not be viable, because, Canadian Peso.

Anyway, I’m excited. Hope everyone has a great 2016.

2015 Race #10: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon, Toronto, ON

Date: October 18, 2015
Gun Time: 1:39:01
Chip Time: 1:37:49
Placing Overall: 729th out of 10220
Placing in Age Group: 93rd out of 674 (M40-44)
Theme Song: Going the Distance“, Cake

It was weird how this race kind of snuck up on me. With a lot of changes happening in my personal life and plenty to distract me, I suddenly realized one day in early September that I had a half marathon in six weeks and I hadn’t really done anything to ramp up my mileage from my weekly maintenance totals or even to start preparations. The good news was that I had been putting lots of speedwork in with the 5K races and I felt absolutely tip top physically. So, I thought I’d ensure I at least got a couple of 10+ mile training runs in, which I did four and two weeks prior to the race date. These went well, so I rested for most of the week prior and got up on a cool Sunday morning ready to give it a go.

I had a bit of an adventure getting down to University and Dundas where the start was. All the promotion for the event warned against trying to drive downtown because of the 20,000 plus people that would be attending, so I figured I’d leave my car near Bloor and Christie and take the TTC down to Osgoode which would give me plenty of time to warm up and get to the starting corral. An added bonus was I wouldn’t have to pay a crapload for parking and get stuck in the jam of people trying to get out of downtown after. Smart, right?

Well, starting gun was at 9AM, and I got to Christie subway station at 7:45, as planned, after a trouble free drive into the city. The day was looking to be a perfect one for running, with no wind and the temperature around 40 degrees. I could feel the adrenaline start to pump as it always does on race day as I fished for a token and made to enter the building.

My next thought: Why is the door locked?

And on the heels of that: Oh shit. It’s Sunday.

The subway, you see, doesn’t start running until 9AM on Sundays in Toronto. NYC we are not.

CQxTjzoW8AAhLFR

No TTC for you!

This was really annoying given the city made it plain it didn’t want people driving downtown, but it didn’t give us what would be the best alternative in terms of transportation down there. So, I had to decide whether I wanted to try and drive over and try to find parking, or take a bus, or what. I decided I’d briskly walk the 2 and a half miles or so instead and treat it as a warmup. This ended up working out OK and I’d be able to take the subway back to the car and get out of town fairly easily.

MSIU-MARATHON-01

Off we go.

I still was able to get down to Nathan Phillips Square and find the bag check in plenty of time for the race, and made my way to Corral A after doing some light stretching. There was the usual banter from the organizers in the countdown to the gun, and Jean Paul Bedard was going to be running his third consecutive marathon distance in 18 hours, which is pretty damned impressive. Even better, he was doing it to raise funds to support victims of sexual abuse. Good on him – and you really should read his story, it’s quite affecting. Kathleen Wynne did make an appearance in this one, running the first 5K with Jean Paul and firing the starting gun. I tried to stick near the 1:40 pacer, who was from Kitchener near where I work, with the overall strategy of staying close to him until midrace and then upping to negative splits to try to break the 1:40 mark. The start was the usual surge-forward-and-stop that you get in big races, and this was the biggest one I had ever been in. We streamed up University Avenue and as is typical for me I was trying to control my pace and not let the adrenaline take over.

STWM15_JP-Bedard-with-Premier-TF-1024x683

Jean-Paul Bedard, with the premier to his right.

As we rounded Queen’s Park Circle, though, I was cruising along and before I knew it, I had passed the pacer by a considerable distance as we ran along Bloor Street. We bore left onto Dufferin to head south toward the lake and I felt like I was trying to hold back enough that I wouldn’t die in the second half of the race, but was still going at a pretty good clip. It helped that this stretch was all downhill, though I found myself having to keep an eye on the streetcar tracks in order to avoid tripping.

Now I was pretty much neck and neck with the 3:05 marathon pacer and thinking, damn, am I going to regret this later? I don’t run with a Garmin or anything like that – I typically like to run by feel, so I really had no way of knowing what my pace was. We surged over the Gardiner Expressway and onto Lake Shore Boulevard, and I concentrated on keeping pace and form. Hitting the 10K split, I was rather astonished to see that my split was below 46 minutes, which meant that with the time taken to reach the start line after the gun I was probably under 45 minutes for the first 10K (it turned out to be 44:32).

We also had a good view by this time of the race leaders coming back along Lake Shore, which was quite a marvel. Soon I reached the turnaround just past KM 12 and started heading back toward downtown, which suddenly seemed very far away. Gut check time started around KM 14. I could feel my legs starting to fade and my hamstrings were tightening up. A steel band along the side of the road perked me up briefly, but at the next water stop I had to take a short 20 seconds and stretch things out. I could tell my pace was dropping by the rapidity with which the 3:05 pacer was running away from me. This is where the lack of work going in really hurt me. Soon I was running alongside the 3:15 pace group and willing myself to try to stay with them. Unsuccessfully. By KM 18, as we were in the shadow of the office towers, they were at least 50 yards ahead of me.

I kept waiting for that 1:40 pacer to come up behind me, but it wasn’t happening (little did I know he would actually end up finishing around 1:42). I got a real boost from the cheering throngs that were lining Lake Shore at the turn onto Bay Street and the final stretch. Gritting my teeth, I watched the distance markers pass. 20KM, 1KM to go, then 800m, then 600. They seemed to be moving by awfully slowly. I went around the bend with 200m to go and could see Nathan Phillips Square, and finally the finish line. With a glance at the clock I allowed myself a smile as it was still at 1:38 and change. I crossed as it flipped over to 1:39 and trotted over to grab my medal relieved and happy. Mission accomplished – my first sub 1:40 time.

AC_STWM12_1453

The finish line crowds were good. And pretty loud.

One thing that’s nice about finishing with the first hundred runners in a big race is that there aren’t any lines for food afterward, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the offerings (bagel + cream cheese + cookie + banana = boring). I considered sticking around for some entertainment and a beer, but with the family not there and fatigue setting in I decided I would just get out of Dodge and head home for a sleep and something more substantial to eat. So I can’t comment on the post race festivities. Maybe next time.

I would deem the last major event of my year an unqualified success. It was a fast course, great weather, no major problems, and I really think I can go faster with some better prep. I was sore for a couple of days after, but rested up properly this time, and it was on to the final two events of the year.

12108045_10153649581267052_9002656957045870361_n

2015 Race #5: Rite Aid Cleveland 10K, Cleveland, OH

Date: May 17, 2015
Gun Time: 47:06
Chip Time: 46:30
Placing Overall: 88th out of 2483
Placing in Age Group: 13th out of 121
Theme Song: Running Down A Dream“, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

My son is not impressed with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He’s eight years old, so you can’t really blame him. His experience with music is pretty much limited to the likes of Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars, with a little LMFAO thrown in. None of these are what you would call particularly well represented at RRHoF. It seems Dad’s stupid dinosaur bands didn’t really rate with him, so this made for a lot of aimless wandering, and complaining. Worse still, Lori railed at the lack of Bon Jovi related memorabilia (I won’t say the RRHoF missed the mark on that one, exactly). Leaving aside the discussion of whether a museum could ever be considered “rock and roll”, I will say that I thought the Rolling Stones pinball machine contained therein was particularly badass.

All this sightseeing was possible because of my bumping down from the marathon to the 10K. This became fairly evident to me as we strolled downtown Cleveland in the afternoon as the last of the marathoners were straggling in, and I happened to note that everyone wearing a blue bib looked like they were in dire need of a rollator.

BEFORE.

BEFORE.

AFTER.

AFTER.

Perhaps this impression had a lot to do with sour grapes, given that I opted not to run the marathon myself. I don’t know, but those people looked like they were in some serious pain.

The weekend included a pretty large race expo and the kids had lots of fun roaming around picking up little freebies, as kids do. Pretty soon we had a bag full of odds and ends, and I picked up my shirt which was pretty nice (the 10K shirts were less so, but obviously I had already paid for the one that went with the marathon). Seeing the marathoners all stoked and raring to go was awakening the little voice in my head telling me I should go for it, and to hell with the injury. What’s more, I chatted for awhile with a couple of firefighters from Parma Heights who were planning to run the full 26.2 miles – in 40 pounds of gear, raising money for ALS.

Suddenly, I felt a little like I was wussing out.

However, common sense did prevail, and as for race day, I started with a quick warm-up on the bike at 5:30AM in the gym at the Marriott (which as you might expect was completely deserted at that hour) and went outside to join a stream of runners who were making their way toward the start area. Light was just starting to touch the sky in the east, and the day was dawning not particularly hot but very, very humid, with some ominous slate colored clouds roiling above. Passing a giant billboard of King James (as if we needed a reminder of who actually runs this town), we arrived in front of the Quicken Loans Arena where a large crowd was gathering. The organizers made a big show of proclaiming that they had 20,000 runners participating in the event, but it’s worth noting that this includes a fairly large division of walkers, and the 5K and kids race the day before, so the number of runners in the 10K, half, and marathon was rather closer to 10,000. Still, it was by far the biggest event I had ever participated in, and felt like it once we got into the starting corrals. The marathon organizers, doing credit to the great city of Cleveland and its storied place in the history of rock and roll, got us all pumped up with a rousing array of tunes, starting with, uh, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk“.

Yeah. That happened.

This image isn't from the 2015 race, but you get the idea.

This image isn’t from the 2015 race, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the skies opened up a few minutes before the start of the race, drenching everyone. Whether Trace Adkins had anything to do with this remained to be seen. I was at the lead edge of the B corral, and in front of me a couple of young guys were nervously discussing running their first marathon. Turned out they were 19 and 17. God. I hate it when my competition could be my kids. I should have been in the A corral, because after the gun I got pretty much totally boxed in by slower runners for the first 3/4 mile or so. I guess I should have figured out that would happen given the size of the race, but chalked it up to lessons learned.

All hail the king.

All hail the king.

Once things thinned out as we came around the back side of the Q and Progressive Field, I managed to kick things into a higher gear. I felt good and the groin seemed strong. We surged over the Cuyahoga at the Hope Memorial Bridge and at this point the 10K runners split off from the rest and headed past the West Side Market into Ohio City. The long straightaway down Franklin Blvd was generally quiet, but a few Clevelanders were out to cheer the runners on. Eventually we made our way up onto the Memorial Shoreway and started heading back into downtown. The legs were getting a little heavy by this time and it was obvious that my conditioning had suffered quite a lot with the month off. As we passed the 5 mile mark another runner asked if I had the time, which I didn’t.

“Oh, well, we know it won’t be more than another 10 minutes,” she said sunnily.

I was able to dig down and find a last reserve of strength as we came down off the Shoreway and the finish line was in sight. A young blond guy, maybe mid 20’s, came up beside me and started barking like a Marine drill sergeant down the stretch, exhorting me to sprint to the finish. I could see the clock just turning over to 47 minutes as we hit the line and I was pretty pleased considering my goal was to go sub 48 minutes with all the time off.

Given that it was still before 8AM, I didn’t expect Lori and the kids to be there, but they were, and Lori snapped a rather happy looking photo of me with my medal (which had a cool spinning guitar in it). Race run, off we went to find me some carbs.

SONY DSC

My results looked a bit more impressive than they maybe were; the almost 2500 runners in the 10K included the walkers, who were also timed. All in all it was a pretty nice return to form, I didn’t get hurt, and the dream of the marathon is still there. Better start pricing rollators.

021

Well, sh*t is about to get real up in here…

…because I just officially signed up for both the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and the Great Lakes Marathon Series.

Also, and probably more important, I will be fundraising for gastric cancer advocacy and research through supporting the Debbie’s Dream Foundation with my run, due to a close family member who has recently been stricken with the disease. Here is a link to my fundraising page: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/mcfarlanetom/clevelandrun.

So it’s on. Can’t back out now. Also, thinking about getting one of the snazzy GLMS training shirts:

GLMS-Training-Shirt

They only take cheques (or, I guess, checks??) in US funds, so will have to work that one out…

Me and the Great Lakes Marathon Series, or, Does This Garmin Make Me Look Quixotic?

I don’t remember what finally made me decide I wanted to run a marathon.

Oh, there were probably many factors involved, most of which would count as the usual suspects I’m sure; being able to call myself a marathoner at parties and sound like a badass, big honkin bling, the fact that a track rival from high school was now a Marathon Maniacs member and was running the things like it was some sort of uncontrollable bodily function, the opportunity to agonize one’s body in exotic places, and all that. I vacillated over whether to even try for some time, but as I slowly got back in shape from years of self-inflicted lethargic purgatory it seemed to me that to make the attempt at least was now falling into the outer provinces of the realm of possibility.

So began the internet searches for training plans and wading through the titanic amount of information and opinions available out there. I was never under any misapprehension that it would be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, but just getting some sort of cohesive plan figured out proved to be daunting. However, eventually I got to the point where I felt like I could at least move forward.

I do remember when I decided it would be cool to run the Great Lakes Marathon Series.

I found out about the series through the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon website when I was scouting it for possible entry. For the uninitiated, the GLMS is a series of 25 marathons taking place along the shores of the Great Lakes. The series’ webpage claims it is for “runners who are interested in experiencing a variety of marathons along the Great Lakes, while at the same time making a positive impact on the ecosystem of the Great Lakes Basin.”

Super. Me, I just happened to note that 15 of the 25 marathons were within 4 hours drive of my house, which appealed to both my sense of activeness and laziness simultaneously. I considered this a win-win.

Here’s the thing, though. I still haven’t run a single marathon yet. I’ve always had a tendency to get so far ahead of myself I’d need a piggyback from Usain Bolt to catch up. My plans tend to smack of grandiosity, and though sometimes they come to fruition, they definitely often end up with me forgetting I ever made them and wandering off to eat a sandwich. I have no idea which will happen here. But dammit, I’m gonna give it the old college try. I do have some reasons to stick with it which will probably become clear. And I’m gonna blog about it because I enjoy writing, it’ll give me a creative outlet which I probably need, and, well, because I’m self-indulgent. And being self-indulgent is what the internet is for, right?