PAYING IT FORWARD…

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LA Marathon Expo ’17

As I sit here with my tired legs still recovering from last Sunday’s Los Angeles Marathon, my mind keeps drifting back to the race. I had grand plans, including the hopes of a marathon PR. Unfortunately, it was not one of my better running days. All my best laid plans (of mice and men) went very much awry.

But rather than focus on why the wheels came off during my marathon, I’d rather highlight how a friend helped me and how I was able to pass that help along.

I had started feeling fatigued way too early in the marathon, around mile 7 (not a good sign) and by mile 12 I knew my day was in the midst of going completely south. All strategy and game plans I had made went right out the window. I was in survival mode (relegated to power walking) with only one goal in mind: finish.

In the midst of 25,000 other runners and a multitude of fans, I briefly felt utterly alone. I was in the weeds. I began what I felt was going to be a sucky solo trudge to the ocean.

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Yup, hitting the wall sucks.

Imagine my surprise when shortly before mile 14 a familiar voice rang out saying “Thought I’d come run with you for a few miles.” The voice belonged to my buddy Stephen Germain, a fellow Team To End AIDS (T2) runner. Except he wasn’t running LA this year… even though he could have.

Let me clarify.

Stephen is a longtime T2 member; he and I ran side by side for a good chunk of the 2015 race. This year he had run the training program again with T2 and raised funds, so he was qualified to run (had a bib number and everything). But business trips had kept him on the road for most of Feb. & March, so instead of running he chose to come out and cheer on his friends. Oh, and I should also mention that Stephen has been one of the top donators to my T2 fundraising the last two years. He’s the kind of friend you feel very lucky to have.

Back to the race.

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The T2 gang with Stephen dead center.

I originally figured I’d see Stephen at the T2 cheer area (at mile 15), but instead he came running onto the course when I came by near mile 14 to offer moral support. What he didn’t realize is he was giving me some serious race life support. Stephen knew I was not in a good place, so he let me vent about how bad the race (and everything else) was going. And boy did I vent. It was a bitch session of epic proportions. And after I spouted about life, the universe and everything, Stephen offered a few choice words of encouragement… and walked along with me.

Now I had figured that Stephen just would hang with me a mile or so until we reached mile 15 and the T2 water stop. That would have been the sign of a good friend.

Nope.

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When you’re stuck in the weeds, it’s great to have friends by your side.

Stephen stayed by my side through miles 14, 15, 16 & 17… all the way through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Yup, four miles and two towns worth of companionship. He let me stew when I needed to and also offered support where necessary. He was like a psychiatrist in running shoes.

I don’t know if I would have finished the race if Stephen hadn’t gotten me through those shitty middle miles.

When Stephen finally said his goodbye and merged back into the crowd, my lingering thought was how could I possibly repay that act of friendship and kindness. Well, I guess the running gods heard me. Cut to mile 19.

At that point I was focusing on just putting left foot in front of right. I was certainly in a better frame of mind, thanks to Stephen, but now I was seeing that if I didn’t pick up my pace I wouldn’t break the 6-hour mark for the marathon. Now mind you, my marathon PR is 4:58 and I was originally hoping to best that on Sunday. So I was running a full hour behind my goal pace and I sure didn’t want to miss coming in under 6 hours.

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Do you fartlek in public?

But up ahead I saw another one of my T2 running buddies. And he was just standing on the course looking pretty dejected. I approached and asked how he was feeling. Well, he made my marathon’s trials and tribulations seem like nothing. He’d already thrown up twice, was really hurting and strongly considering throwing in the towel. And then he simply asked if I’d help him make it to the finish line.

Screw breaking 6 hours.

I told my friend that I’d walk with him the rest of the way and we’d finish together. So for the next three or so miles we walked at a slower comfortable pace, making sure he drank enough and didn’t cramp up. We talked and bitched, doing whatever we could to take our minds off of aching and tired muscles.

As we approached the mile 23 marker, my friend turned to me and said “Are we going to break 6 hours?” I told him I’d probably miss it by a few minutes, but he could still make it if we stayed at our current pace (he’d started the marathon 5 minutes after me, so our times weren’t quite the same).

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Tastes like I finished. Run on!

My friend said  he didn’t want me to fall short, that he was starting to feel better and suggested we start doing fartleks… basically picking random points to run to in between walk breaks. So from mile 23-25 we took turns choosing starting and stopping points. We’d turned the suckfest into a game and actually found a way to enjoy ourselves.

After we hit mile 25, my friend told me he was feeling much better and that he wanted me to speed up solo (to guarantee that I broke 6 hours). I gave him a fist bump and then took off. Oddly enough I felt more energized than I had since the start of the race.

So I ran the last mile at a decent clip and crossed the finish line with a time of 5:55:15. Yup, it was my slowest marathon ever, but I still had a smile on my face. I waited at the finish line for my friend to cross just a few minutes later. We hi-fived and then got our finisher’s medals at the same time.

Not a fast race by any stretch, but a still damn good one.

Pay it forward… and Run on!

THE END OF AN ERA…

This past Sunday morning I donned my T2 shirt and cap in preparation to run the Los Angeles Marathon as a proud member of the Team To End AIDS. It was my 8th time running this great race with T2. Unfortunately, it’s also the last time I will be running a marathon with them.

“Good morning T2!”

Sadly, 2017 is the last year of the Team To End AIDS endurance training charity program.

Granted, the entire team knew this bitter fact when we started our training for the 2017 race back in October. We vowed to have one helluva final season. But now that the training is over and the race has been run, the harsh reality has finally hit me.

I’ve been involved with charities before, all of them worthwhile, but T2 wasn’t just another cause I supported. I looked forward to seeing the T2 gang on Saturday the way you look forward to meeting up with your best buddies and hanging out. They were an important part of my life. They were my running family. Read the rest of this entry

THE WEEK OF…

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It’s on!

Race week is finally upon us. On Sunday March 19th, myself and approximately 24,999 other pavement pounders will be lacing ’em up for the annual Los Angeles Marathon to trek the 26.2 miles from Dodgers Stadium all the way to the Santa Monica Pier.

For those of you who don’t know about the LA Marathon and its scenic “stadium to the sea” route, you should check it out. It really is quite a sight. Think of it as a running tour of the city.

Okay, actually think of it as a multi-hour sweaty, trying not to heave up your lungs and crash to the ground ending up in the fetal position, running tour of the city. As you question your worth as a human being, you’ll pass by: Dodger Stadium, Disney Hall, The Chinese Theater, Sunset Blvd., Rodeo Drive, the lovely Pacific Ocean and many other sights. Here’s the course map. Read the rest of this entry

MY FIFTY FIRST DRAGON…

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Click above.

There’s a short story I remember from my childhood called “The Fifty First Dragon” by Heywood Broun. Click on the picture to the right to give it a read.

It tells the story of a nervous knight named Gawaine le Cœur-Hardy and how he found confidence thanks to the magic word “Rumplesnitz” given to him by the headmaster.  Gawaine went on to slay more dragons than anyone.

Click on the picture to the right to give it a read.

Good story, isn’t it.

It’s kind of funny because my original running coach, Scott Boliver, used to talk about “slaying the dragon” when it came to running… and in life. As for Coach Scott, he truly was a dragonslayer.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I completed my 50th half marathon (aka slayed 50 dragons) back in December. So the half marathon I ran this past Sunday was my own 51st dragon. Read the rest of this entry

FAST FRIDAY…

Hi Everybody,

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Just keep moving.

Been swamped the past few weeks. But real life can keep you running ragged (that’s a different type of marathon). So just time for a quick update today.

My Los Angeles Marathon training is going full tilt boogie as my running coach is doing his best to see if he can make my legs explode. Between speed work and hill training, I’m definitely putting my man gams through some serious workouts. Here’s hoping all of the hard work pays off.

I’ve got the Surf City Half Marathon next Sunday (my first race of 2017). Now I wasn’t originally planning on running Surf City this year, but my coach wants me to use this race as a gauge to see what I should realistically be shooting for with the LA Marathon. So he wants me to run Surf City… hard. Real hard. Hell yeah!

And tomorrow morning our T2 team will be gathering pre-dawn as we log 21 glorious miles running all over Burbank and Glendale. It’s the second longest training run of the season (the 23 mile monster is in 3 weeks) and should be a fun four-hour jaunt. Read the rest of this entry

PHASE 2…

phase2I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that your 2017 is off to a rousing start complete with an exciting list of “New Year’s resolutions.”

For those dawdlers who have yet to start on your resolutions, worry not. This is really the first full week of 2017… Jan. 1 falling on a Sunday and the “official” holiday being on a Monday kinda made the whole week feel a tad wonky. So pick this week as your starting point.

As for me, my Los Angeles marathon training got a resolution-sized kick in the pants this past week courtesy of my running coach. We’re just past the halfway point in our 5-month training prep and James informed myself and the rest of the T2 gang that we are now entering “Phase 2.” Read the rest of this entry

…HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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2016 RESOLUTED…

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Run run Rudolph!

A week ago I ran my last race of 2016, the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 10K. Clad in holiday colors and matching reindeer antlers (of course), I lumbered through the streets of (you guessed it) Santa Monica and Venice. I had a really good time and also finished with a pretty good time (58:41), my fastest 10K for the year.

Now that I’ve placed my last piece of 2016 race bling upon the wall (time to get another medal hanger too), it’s time to take quick glance back at the running year that was.

Back in December of 2015 I stated that my overall plan for 2016 was to “take it as it comes.” Meaning simply that I wouldn’t obsess over obtaining goals, but rather just go forward and have fun. In hindsight, that plan seems to have worked out pretty well. Read the rest of this entry

…GOLDEN!

I hit the “Big 5-0” on Sunday.

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Booyah!

No, I’m not 50 years old… not yet.

And I wasn’t recruited by Hawaii 5-0… also not yet.

But the Lexus LaceUp Riverside Half Marathon was a momentous race for me as I completed my 50th half marathon.

That’s right, I’m golden baby.

It took me just under 7 years to log the 655 cumulative race miles (13.1 miles x 50 for those of you bothering to do the math).

Note: In between those halfs I’ve also managed to rack up ten full marathons and twenty 10Ks, but this post isn’t about those. Read the rest of this entry

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS…

A picture is worth a thousand words. -Multiple sources

Earlier this week I posted a bunch of photos from the REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon (yay, free photos) to show how my race went.

On Thursday, however, I received an e-mail that there were a few additional photos to check out. I took a gander and knew I had to share one of them with you. Here it is:

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It’s just a shot of me having crossed the finish line looking down at my left wrist for some reason. No big deal, right?

Actually, it’s a very big deal to me. Here’s the story behind it…

I’m actually looking at the blue bracelet on my wrist. And written on the bracelet is one word: Strength.

The bracelet was one of several given to me by Scott Boliver, the man who taught me how to become a marathoner.

I’ve written about Scott before. In fact it was one of my very first posts on Tripping The Kenyans back in January of 2014. Please give it a read. I’ll wait.

Link to my post about Scott Boliver.

So when I got this photo from the race, it really hit home.

I sent it off to Scott’s parents to let them know that even three years after their son’s passing, he still is impacting my life (and I’m not alone). They appreciated it.

My thanks go out to the nameless race photographer who snapped the photo. It captured something very personal and very special to me.

A true Kodak moment.

Smile for the camera…Run on!

CANYON CITY CANDIDS…

10574212_1416925418529812_3006742470463802857_nJust a quick post and photos today from last Saturday’s REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon. I had a great time running down the San Gabriel Mountains and into the town of Azusa. The weather was nice (not too cold up on the hill) and some overcast skies definitely helped keep the temp from getting too hot.

Kudos to REVEL for putting on a great race and giving all of the runners free race photos and a personalized video (I’ll post that when it’s ready). For those of you who are interested in running one of the REVEL races in 2017, you can check out there website here. Read the rest of this entry

…MY RACIEST MONTH

Ah, November is upon us.

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It’s a runny month.

Which means many things:

  • Baseball season is over (Congrats Cubs).
  • Football season is heating up (Go Packers, Badgers, and ‘Noles).
  • It’s time to vote (Get out there America).
  • Thanksgiving is just around the corner (Gobble gobble).
  • Christmas is right behind it (have you seen the stores).

And November also means one other thing to me: It’s time to run races. Read the rest of this entry

THE MAN WITH THE PLAN…

11150477_476062995889424_5336102178984688662_nLast week I posted about my new running coach James and his strategy of kicking me outside of my comfort zone. Well, I got to execute this strategy for the first time in a race with this past weekend’s Lexus LaceUp Half Marathon.

Let me lay down the game plan and tell you how it went.

The goal of this race was not to shoot for a PR. In fact, James didn’t even give me a finish time to shoot for at all. Rather, I had three things to focus on…

  1. Change my run/walk ratio from a 4:1 to a 9:1 (this would cut my walk breaks in half).
  2. Start slow and increase my pace with each mile… with a speed bump at mile 10 if I was feeling good.
  3. Keep my overall effort at around an 8-8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Read the rest of this entry

ZONING OUT…

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Let’s go outside this, shall we.

This week, just a brief post about a particular “zone.”

I’m not talking about “time zones,” those things that drive us insane with jet lag when flying cross-country.

Nor am I talking about “The Twilight Zone,” that crazy place stemming from the marvelous mind of Rod Serling and the reason why you should always have two pairs of reading glasses… just in case of the apocalypse (TZ fans know what I’m talking about).

Nope, today I’m talking about a much more popular and destructive zone… The Comfort Zone. Read the rest of this entry

THE “BYE” WEEK…

This past weekend I experienced a pair of “byes” and it gave me a strong moment of clarity to reaffirm why I love distance running and races.

byeLet me ‘splain.

My main college team, the Wisconsin Badgers (Go Bucky) were on a bye this past Saturday and while I did keep tabs on my other alma mater Florida State (Go ‘Noles), I kind of felt disinterested in college football for a weekend. It was similar to how I didn’t really care so much about pro football last weekend when my Green Bay Packers were off. A little bit of out of sight, out of mind.

Now also this past weekend I didn’t run a race. I’ve got a half marathon in two weeks, the Lexus LaceUp Ventura Half Marathon, so I was just doing a long run in preparation. Believe it or not, most weekends I don’t run races (only about 12 out of 52 weekends annually am I actually on a bling hunt). Read the rest of this entry

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