Friday, December 12, 2008

I Was Selfish!

First of all,
There was bad news and there was good news.

The bad news? I am no longer a member of the “almost marathon” club. I am an actual marathon runner. I completed the Las Vegas Marathon in December 7th in 6 hours 4 minutes and 22 seconds.

I decided a while ago to be selfish for this competition. I was going to look out for me this time. I did not contact the usual podcasts. I didn’t make the usual announcements. I was in this one for me. I didn’t want to hex it.

I was almost superstitious about it. I wore different socks, different shorts, different shirt and a different hat. I wore a Chicago shirt that I trained in for both of my marathons! After all, I couldn’t let Chicago totally defeat me.

My best friend in the entire world, Tom, went with me to Las Vegas. I’ve known Tom since Junior High School. We got a package travel plan a while before the travel dates. Tom had talked to his family and explained our plans to them. They decided to drive up from Phoenix and support the cause. We had Tom’s Mom Peggy, Dad Don, Brother Don, Nancy (Don’s wife) and the kids, Julia and Mitch. What a support team I ended up with.

The first night, Tom and I went to the expo as soon as we had the rental car. That would save us time for later. I got the bib, the paper chip and the goody bag. I did buy 3 Powerbars, 5 Hammer gels, “26.2” gizmo socks, a pair of sunglasses, a hat and a coffee mug. I guess that I had confidence this time around

The Great Las Vegas Santa Run!
We agreed as a group to participate in the 2008 Las Vegas Great Santa Run. It is an annual Las Vegas charity event that set the Guiness Book world record in 2007 (since defeated). 6 of us participated in the 5K. Don and Tom ran with Mitch and Julia. Their time was 45:30. Nancy and I walked it in 55:44. Of course, all of us were wearing Santa suits! It was a fun way to spend the morning. Afterward, we all went to the MGM Grand and had an excellent buffet.

The Quiet Before The Storm!
Soon after that, I went into solitude mode. I went back to the room and started preparing for the event. I guess that everyone has their own routine. I know that I have mine. I took out my lists and my equipment and got to work. As the race was to start at 6:05 AM the next morning, I got to bed at about 8:30 PM. I set the alarm clock for 4:00 AM.

I guess that I slept the night before fairly well. I did not think that I did. Tom said that he came in at around 9:15 PM. I heard him come in, but do not remember much after that. I woke at about 3:50 AM. I waited a few minutes but turned off the alarm before it went off.

I turned on one light. I started the coffee pot. I went through my morning ablutions and got dressed. Tom and I were out the door by 4:45 AM. We went to Don’s room and he opened the door. He had been waiting for us in the dark. We started the drive to the start line.

Ever been to Las Vegas? The Las Vegas Strip is slow at the best of times. It was nigh on impossible to approach the Mandalay Bay on that day. Don drove as close as he could get. It was a trial. I finally got out about 2 long blocks from the start line. I moved in and joined the gathering runners within a few hundred feet from the start. When the announcement booth started up it was 5:35 AM.

Time passed slowly. It was a cool morning, but almost perfect for a long race. I was dressed minimally. It was cool but I knew that after the start I would get warm soon enough.

The Marathon
The wheelchairs started at 5:55 AM.

They moved us up to the starting line after that start. Before I was ready, they started the race. To my right, the skies suddenly lit up with fireworks! We began to run and our way was lit with that barrage of explosions. It was a spectacular way to start. As we ran down the famous Las Vegas Strip, many of the casinos put greetings on their marquees as we passed them. Very cool!

The beginning of the race had throngs of spectators lining the strip. I did bring the cell phone this time. After following the rules at Chicago, I decided to always run with a cell phone, legal or not. It makes no sense not to have one.

I carried 3 Hammer nutrition gels (they were in my hat). I ingested them every 30 minutes. I had 2 banana Powerbars for run time after that and I also had Hammer Perpetuem mixed up and ready. I was also using Hammer Endurolyte capsules. I took 2 every 30 minutes until toward the end.

I did take the Flip Ultra video, but did not use it during the run. I did take some videos before the event started. I did not take my iPod nano or the nike+ system for this run. I wanted to experience it!

As I said, I was selfish this time around. I was in this one for me. I treated it as a long run (practice). I talked to other runners, but didn’t take names. Wearing a “Chicago” shirt, I either talked to others or they talked to me. Happened several times! There are some strong opinions regarding the Chicago Marathon!

Before the half-marathon runners and the marathon runners separated, near the downtown area, the run-through chapel was situated. Several couples either were married or renewed their vows. Of course, wedding cake was offered to all of the runners. (Nope, I didn’t take any…)

The two races split just before the downtown area. Volunteers directed the half-marathoners to the left and the marathoners to the right. Of course, the runners took up the call! “Half-crazy to the left! Fully crazy to the right!” was heard many a time. This is it, I thought to myself. Now I am committed (or should that have been committable?)

The most interesting part of this long run was the strip and the downtown area. There is nothing in the world like running North on the Las Vegas strip. Casino after casino. Very cool.

After that, streets all seemed to look the same. There were long sections of many-laned streets with high brick walls. There weren’t many spectators on the street but there were quite a few that were observing us from over the walls!

There was a clock at every mile. Most miles either had water or Gatorade. Some had both. It was easy to track progress and pace.

I passed the 13.1 mile chip reader at 2:44:53. I figured I would have a 6 hour finish. Undaunted, feeling very good, I trudged on. The batteries gave out on my Garmin 205 soon after the half-way point.

Concentration and the Run
I used many mantras as I ran. They were based on 26.2 miles. The first 10 were the legs – Easy. The second 10 was the brain – Somewhat tougher.

I used two mantras in miles 10 to 20. One was simply, “Breathe,” as I timed my run to a pace. The other was the remaining miles in the set.

The final 6.2 were broken up as follows:
20 to 21 – My Doctor, Nathan Persoff (he started me running).
21 to 22 – A Podcast that supported me in this endeavor.
23 to 24 – A fellow runner that has inspired me.
24 to 25 – Very special friends and supporters.
25 to 26 – Family, work and close friends.
26 to 26.2 – Tom Martin, who was coach, friend, fan and major supporter!

I repeated the names over and over as I placed one foot in front of the other!

At times, I thought that the large casinos would never come into view, but slowly, they did. When I finally saw the Mandalay Bay (starting and stopping point), it became my focus as it got closer and closer.

The Finish!
I never really doubted the finish on this race. I sure felt a lot better when I was at the casino. As I ran by the parking complex, Tom was at a door! He greeted me when he recognized me! I was very glad to see him! Instead of saying that, though, I asked how far it was to the finish. He told me it was a half-mile!

Half a mile! I am doing this one! I suddenly felt great! Tom was taking pictures and cheering me on. I kept going. I glanced over to the doorway again and there were Tom’s parents. They were waving and cheering me on!

Tom said that the others were at the 26 mile mark. I moved on! I saw the others and threw my arms into the air! Mitch ran up and started to run alongside. Julia soon joined us. I turned the corner and saw the chute! I couldn’t help it as my eyes teared up and I got emotional.

I ran up to a lady runner. I told her that we need to cross the finish line and I expected her to beat this Grey-haired guy. She smiled, touched my shoulder, and told me that we should go for it. “Lead on,” I said, “Lead on!”

We took off. I took the glove off my right hand and tucked it in my belt. I grabbed my hat off my head, held it, and raised both arms! I ran over the finish line! I am a marathoner!!!!!

Crossing the Line!

My fellow finisher came up to me, shook my hand and had her husband take our picture. I thanked her and turned toward the medals.

Shaking Hands!

I shouted, “I just finished my first marathon and earned my medal! I want my medal! Who has my medal?”

The ones that were handing out the medals all smiled and held them high. I turned to the prettiest young lady and lowered my head. She placed the medal over my neck! I winked at her and asked if I could give her a hug! I gave her a bear hug and lifted her off of her feet! I placed a kiss on her cheek!

I walked away again with tears welling up in my eyes. I did it! I took a moment to let it soak in. I gathered my wits and walked around the corner to family and friends to share the moment with them. I also got my picture taken for the finisher photo!

The Finisher Photo!


I want to thank everyone that supported me in this endeavor. There were times that I lost the faith. It was people like you, dear reader that had more faith in me than I did. I appreciate it! Thank you.

The Las Vegas Finisher's Medal!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What happens in Vegas...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Viva Las Vegas! (I hope so!)

Support -
I have a lot of support from a person like you. I appreciate it. You are the person that keeps me going in this quest of mine.

In just a few days, I will be running the Las Vegas Marathon!

You can read about the Las Vegas Marathon by clicking on the name or by going here - I have not found a way to track runners for this marathon as of yet. If I do find a way to, I will announce here and on Twitter ( That there is no way to track me does not disappoint me.

Am I Ready?
I have thought a lot about this event. Let me say that I have thought a lot about running a second marathon. Let me say that I have thought a lot about attempting another marathon run.

Many of you have run a marathon. You know what it is like to run the distance. I know what it is like to almost run the distance. At least, for my first one, that is. I made a run that day in Chicago for 24.7 miles. I was a DNF. Both legs cramped and dropped me to the ground.

I do know that a DNF (Did Not Finish) is far better than a DNS (Did Not Start). A DNF is also not a finisher. It affected my opinion of myself, my running and my ability to persevere. In other words, I was disappointed in myself and doubting myself.

I know that I was not the only one that was a DNF at Chicago. There were people all along the course. I saw one young couple. The young lady was pushed to exhaustion. She sat down. Her companion, a young man, was still on his feet, running in place and was trying to influence her to keep going. It was touching. I saw a young lady with an Aid attendant at about mile 22. She was on her side and down and out. Another runner was holding her hand and consoling her. There were others.

I thought that those feelings had run the course. I decided to continue the training so I would be in shape. I decided on another marathon to run. Now, the time is here!

My Pre-Race Routine -
I have started my usual routine before a race.
· I am drinking a lot of water. I know that I am hydrated.
· I have prepared my medicines and supplementals for the weekend.
· My menu is set until race day.
· I am thinking of the course and starting the pacing preparation.
· I’ve had my hair cut (this one is important, at least to me).
· I’ve been running in the running togs I’ll use for the race.
· The bags are packed with the casual clothes that I am taking.
· I have prepared checklists for the evening before and morning of the marathon.
· I have a mantra for when I need it.
· I’ve packaged my nutrition products and containers.
· I’m thinking my way through a long, mental preparation process.
· I have not prepared a mile dedication chart this time. I’m doing it this time for me. Is that selfish?

Your Support -
I am basically ready. I am still apprehensive. I realize that this may or may not apply to you or the events that you have attended, but what do you do or would you do to prepare yourself for the ordeal that a marathon can be?

I appreciate strong votes of confidence. They can be empty though. I would really like to know how you prepare and succeed at the events that you participate in.

Why do we blog? I try to be positive most of the time. This time I don’t know that I am that positive. That’s where my friends and supporters come in. I need to let you know how I feel. I need to know how you keep yourself strong. Help me out here, please!

Thank you, supporter!