Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year End Wrap Up

I just finished my last run of 2009. It was an 8 miler at 8:00 at night and 32 degree weather. It took me 1 hour, 20 minutes and 22 seconds (10:03/mile). This run put me over my goal of 800 miles for the year by 2.59 miles. So, total miles run = 802.59 (the equivelent to running from Richmond to Sebastian, FL). Total time run - 130 hours 53 minutes 55 seconds. I'm pooped.

Next year's goal...1,000 miles.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Thon

What a day. Overcast. Cool. Drizzly. 15,000 of my closest strangers and 26.2 miles. Who could ask for more. My virtual running partner, Brian, met up with us before the start. He was rocking his awesome multi colored surf-inspired wind breaker circa 1983. It was a nice tension breaker. Maybe I wouldn't have a great race, but at least I wasn't wearing a garment that deserved its place in the cheesey clothing hall of fame.

Although, I did don a uniquely personalized jersey for my run. To commemorate my comeback...

It garnered a lot of comments on the course. Mostly from people passing me, but some from people I passed. The most memorable was the girl at the start line who said, "You had a heart attack? Cool....wait...that didn't come out right." I got what she meant. (She's the one in the orange shirt in the next picture)

I lined up with Ginny and Tonia. I found myself very thankful to have them there.
But as we approached the starting line, it occurred to me that I was supposed to have run #4 with Rachel. She has been my biggest fan since beginning rehab and down the long road of preparation for this race. As I moved closer to the start line, I looked off to the right for one last glance at her before I started running. Last year, I was disappointed I couldn't run with her. This year, I knew I couldn't have run without her.
We started off at an even pace. Tonia was determined to keep us from taking off too fast. For the first 7 miles we were having a great time. We joked, had a brief discussion on religion and faith and planned to run in a backwards V formation when we got on the Belvedere bridge.

We passed the first party zone and saw Rachel and the rest of our support crew. We were still smiling. Our friend Emily picked us up there and started running with us.

Around mile 9, I noticed that Tonia was starting to slow down. A few days ago, she had a spill at home and hurt her foot. She was running through the pain but it was evident it would slow her down.
Emily moved back to run with Tonia while Ginny and I made the decision to press ahead. We crossed the half way point and Ginny started to have some issues and she had to make a stop. Again, with the great angst of losing my last running partner, I continued on without her.

I began to feel the effects of the run around mile 14 but still felt strong. Until I reached the bridge. I totally cracked crossing the bridge. Wind in my face and nobody to work with. I tried to draft for a bit behind a runner taller than I. Unfortunately, his strides were as long as I was tall so I couldn't keep up long. I walked and ran and walked and ran my way across.

Making my way up Belevedere to Main was no picnic. I thought I could coast on Main for a while but things started to break down. Walking on the bridge did its damage. I knew now the rest of the race would involve a lot of walking.
I made it to Boulevard and crossed Monument. At mile 19, our friends (the Burdens and the Enderts) stood and cheered with Rachel. Rachel began running with me there and stayed with me until the end.

The last 7 miles were brutal. My hips, ankles and thighs scremed in pain. I would run as long as I could handle the pain, then walk for a few seconds up to about a minute, then run again. Though the miles wound down, I kept thinking how it felt like I would never get there. Just past the water station at mile 23, I heard a yell from behind. Ginny had just about caught up to us. Though she didn't get up to where we were, it was nice to know she made a strong comeback.
Rachel continued to cheer me on and kept me going. When finally I saw the finish line, I was relieved. But, before I crossed, I already started thinking about next year.

I finished in 4:52, only 7 minutes slower than my best marathon finished. With no goals other than finishing, I was pleased. But the greatest part of this run is I feel like I finally put closure on last year's medical event. Though I still endeavor to complete 800 total running miles before the end of the year, this was what counted.
I look forward to becoming a runner again, and not a guy who had a heart attack and managed to run a marathon. I want to get back to running because I enjoy it and not because I have something to prove.
I'm proud to say that Ginny ended up finshing just moments after I. And Tonia, in spite of the pain she must have endured from her injury, also crossed the finish line. Brian, as expected, beat us all and we couldn't have been more excited for him.
I look forward to next year's marathon...which may be in New York.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Go Time

I've missed two months here. Let me explain what's happened. Wait...there is too much to explain. Let me sum-up.

Work got extremely busy. That's all I'll say about that.

Morgan and Olivia have really integrated well into their respective schools. Morgan got a perfect score on her PALS testing and is starting an advanced reading group.

I visited the cardiologist and all is well. I'm stopping my plavix prescription next week. As soon as I get my weight down and get a bead on my blood pressure and get another cholesterol check, I'll get off the rest.

Marathon training continued with no real issues, other than me continuing to carry more weight than I want to. Losing weight during marathon training is super hard.

Marathon and the training for it has always been my thing. 18 weeks of pure Jack-time. 4 am runs that could last for up to 3 1/2 hours with no office, phone, kids, etc. This year I realized something. Its much more fun to run with people. I had the opportunity to knock out a few runs in the company of some Stroller Strides friends. Thanks Ginny, Tonia and Fay for dragging me along on the 18 and getting me past my anxiety about the southside portion of the courses. Thanks Jay and Brian for making the 20 miler much more palatable. Thanks to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today...13 months out of the hospital and ready to run the Richmond Marathon! The starting gun is in 2 hrs 50 min so I'm moving on. Have a great day fans. I know I will!!!

It's go time!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This has been a tough training season. After my last post, I picked up a very unusual virus that took 4 weeks to get over. That put a big strain on training. I couldn't put together a decent run for almost 6 weeks. I got off schedule.

Technically, I'm training with a buddy, but he and I have not actually run together yet. It took several weeks for me to get back on schedule with mileage. Then, he suffered an injury. Fortunately, we're both back on the road and I'm on schedule.

This week's run is 17 miles. It's also my favorite week in training. It aligns with the Nascar race coming to town. My route took me down to the track to look at the craziness. New York is widely known as the city that never sleeps...but when the race is in town, RIR rivals NYC. At 6:45 this morning, people were out and about, listening to music, drinking beer and walking to McDonalds for breakfast (and looking at the wierd runner guy). Plenty of colorful characters and colorful clothes, coloful flags and colorful language. I'm a Nascar fan for sure. The Nascar crowd,

Only 9 weeks (and 230 more training miles) before the marathon. Everything is firing correctly.

Today, Rich finished 15. His longest run ever. The man who 3 days ago said he was one and done with marathons hinted he might do it again next year.

On a medical note, 22 days from now will be the anniversary of the "cardiac event". Not a day goes by that I don't think about how much worse it could have been. I think about Jim Fixx and Ryan Shay..both tremendous runners who passed away during runs from cardiac issues; Fixx at age 52 during a run in Vermont in 1984; Shay at age 28 during the U.S. Olympic Trials in NYC in 2007. I try not to endulge in thoughts about what could happen. But it still weighs heavy on my mind from time to time. Old advice that still rings true...take it one day, one run, one step at a time. Worry only about which we can control. Have fun. Live well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Richmond Marathon Just Another Race or My White Whale?

Not too long ago, July 12th was nothing more than the day after my birthday and meant nursing the biggest hangover of the year and waking up (or coming to) on someone's couch, floor or front lawn. But, since 2003, the significance of July 12th has grown.

You see, in 2003, I decided I wanted to run the Richmond Marathon. At this point, Rachel and I had competed in countless 10ks and 5ks and we had completed 2 half marathons. I wanted to see if I have the metle for completing a full marathon. The year we moved back to Virginia seemed to be the best opportunity, so I signed up.

I have an unfortunate storied past with this race. My training program is 16 weeks long. It's called Less is More and it allows me to run 3 days a week with optional cross training and one full day spent on speed work. My goal from the beginning was to complete the race in less than 4 hours.

Here's a brief summary of my success:
2003 - For 14 weeks, I got up at 4:00 in the morning on Tuesdays to hit the track. Track running in the dark is scary. Track running in the dark on southside is scarrier. For 14 Thursdays, up again at 4:00 and laying down tempo runs from 4 miles up to 10. On Saturdays, up at 4 again and in the car to drive to Glen Allen for long runs. Running the roads there upon sunrise were some of my favorite mornings.

You'll notice I only ran 14 Tuesdays, 14 Thursdays and 14 Saturdays. That's because on Saturday number 14, I broke an ankle. I was across the street from the hospital, but couldn't get there on foot. I had to call in the calvary to pick me up and drive me a block. Race off!!

2004 - It was time again to think about running. In the winter of 2003/spring of 2004, I didn't spend much time planning for the marathon. In fact, my weight jumped up pretty high in that time. So, by July 12, 2004, on my first day on the road, I realized I was far too fat and out of shape and did not think I'd be ready in November. So, I quit.

2005 - This was the year. By July 12, I was slim, running a ton of miles per week and was ready to step it up. Training went well. I hit a few bumps on the way, like a serious thunderstorm during a 17 mile run with lightning and 30 mph winds. But that didn't stop me.

What did stop me? Work. Two days before the race, I was at a professional conference. We pulled an all nighter. I got home on Friday and had a few hours of sleep that night. I was able to start the race and at 13.1, I was on pace for a 4 hour marathon. But, it went down hill fast. Between 13.1 and 14, the exhaustion and dehydration set in and the intestinal troubles began. I finished the race, which I am proud of, in 4:45 But the elusive 4 hours began to haunt me.

2006 - I decided I wanted to give a 4 hour race another try. I signed up for Richmond and had a lot of fun training. Three weeks before the race, I started having knee problems. On a whim, I decided to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon in DC. It was 2 weeks before Richmond. I was lucky enough to find a number from a woman who couldn't run. If you want to look up my stats, her name was Alana Lee. She is from California and was using the MCM to qualify for Boston. But, because of my knee and my failure to plan well for the heat, Alana didn't come close. 5hrs 15 min.

Then Richmond. The knee felt good and I had a good support team working on my behalf. Rachel met me every 7 miles with Morgan and gave me a water bottle, a power gel and a kiss. At mile 19, I began to wear down. The knee was bad. People I started well in front of were passing me. I wanted to quit. Rachel appeared out of no where and didn't let me walk off the course. I limped along to the finish with Rachel and friends Kim and Ed running with me and cheering me on. I finished. 5 hrs 20 minutes

I crossed the line and swore off marathons forever.

2007 - Still sticking to no marathons. Focused on running for no reason.

2008 - Challenge. Rachel wanted to run the Marathon. She wanted us to train and run it together. After a year off, I guess I forgot about how hard it was and eagerly said yes. I also signed up for the Marine Corps again. July 12th came along and, for once, I was way ahead of the game. I was already up to 13 miles on my long run. I took a different approach to the schedule this time. Instead of track runs, I did more neighborhood runs. I didn't focus on the 4 hour finish. I just wanted to run it with my wife and have something to do together throughout the summer.

This is the race I never made it to. In late September, I had a very unusual 15 mile run. I found it hard to breathe and thought the humidity was really bothering me. 5 days later, I had a heart attack, the reason for starting this blog in the first place.

Well, it's July 12th again. Last night, I celebrated my 38th birthday at the Festival of Fish at our neighbors house. Today starts training.

I'm a bit behind this year. Carrying more weight than I want to and lacking a solid 10 mile run in the past 2 months. Also, I've had a lot of breathing challenges in the heat. Still, I'm moving forward. My first long run for this training was 8.5 miles. It was slower than normal. Another problem I've had for about a month, but I did it. Hopefully, I'll be up to 10 miles by July 25th. That will keep me on pace with the training program.

No 4 hour race this year, however. My goal is to finish and to give up marathons entirely. Had I not missed last year's, I'd probably not be doing it this year. The accomplishment of running a marathon is something I've already checked off of life's list. This year is more about finishing what I was unable to finish last year.

I want to metion here our neighbor and friend Rich who has been getting back into running for a few years now. He has been hitting the streets in the early morning and banging out a few miles with our other neighbor and friend Jeffry. Rich volunteered at a water station during the Richmond Marathon a few years ago but was never interested in participating. This year, he changed his mind and began training with SportsBackers. On July 12th, Rich ran 9 miles with the training group which he says is his longest ever run. Way to go Rich.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two Months Passed

I realize now that my life is considerably less interesting when medical anomalies are not occurring. That being said. the past two months have been active. In March, I did some light work travel. I found myself in Columbia, South Carolina, and in our old homestead of Charleston, South Carolina. While in Charleston, I had the opportunity to run across the new Cooper River Bridge. I had run a few 10k races across the old bridge.

It was as bad to walk or drive across it as it looks.

The new bridge is amazing in its construction. It has a 1 mile uphill climb and a sloping 1.8 mile down slope.

It has some great views of Charleston from the top...
And a sidewalk for pedestrians...

On the way home, I stopped in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's a little known fact that I spent my freshman college year at UNC Charlotte. I snagged a few pics of my first college dorm...Moore Hall. Overall, not a very impressive place, but the home of some great adolescent debauchery.

Before leaving, I stopped at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was too late to go inside, but the track is really impressive, even on the outside. (but you can't tell that from these pictures)

Also in March, I ran the Monument Avenue 10k and posted a PR of 51:03. I had a different goal this time. Rachel started 4 minutes ahead of me and I wanted to catch her before the finish line. I did. Right at 5 1/2 miles. We crossed the line together holding hands. (Don't tell Bright Room I "borrowed" their picture)

Work really ramped up in April and maintaining a healthy balance between work and home was exceedingly challenging.
I went to DC for 2 days to lobby our Congressmen and Senators for health care-related subject matter. It proved a very educational trip after visiting the offices of Senators Warren and Webb, plus several Representatives, including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. Though none of the actual politicians were there (Easter break), I enjoyed talking with their Legislative Assistants and getting our company into the fray that is health care reform. I took a few pictures as we went along, trying to look more like a politician and less like a tourist.

The US Capitol as seen from the Cannon House Office Building

A poor shot of the inside of the Cannon House Office Building

Also in April, I also took a nuclear stress test (no photo documentation). Dr. Newton said the test confirmed what he thought. Slight scar on my heart, but not effecting blood flow in any way. He conditionally cleared me to run the Richmond Marathon in November. Only one last thing to do...wear a heart monitor 24/7 for 2 weeks. He wants to know what my heart does when I run 10 miles and throughout a normal day. I've been wearing it for a week and a half. Glad that the end of this experiment is in site.
Now that we're into May, I find myself doing a little more travel. I'm writing this now from a hotel room in Portland, Maine. Next week I'll find myself in Virginia Beach for 2 nights and then in Bethesda, Maryland, for a single day expo the week after. In between, we'll be celebrating Mother's Day, my mom's birthday, my wife's grandmother's 95th birthday and our 7th anniversary. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway) there's a lot going on in May.

Portland is a cool town. It aligns with what you imagine when you think of a New England fishing town. I took a running tour this morning and snapped some photos along the 7 mile route I took.

This is from the pier that runs along the waterfront area. There were several fishing boats moored here. According to the lady at Three Sons Seafood, this is lobster season as well as king crab season. That means, the filmers of Deadliest Catch are on duty.

This one was loading up and preparing to head out for the day.

Though my camera didn't produce the same perspective I had, I thought this made for an interesting picture. In the foreground is the small seafood company trying to survive in this economy. In the background, the giant bank building looming over the tiny business, keeping a close watch on its investment.
Portland has a typical quaint New England look to it. Most of the buildings are made of brick. Sidewalks are brick and many streets are cobblestone laden. The streets are lined with local shops, restaurants and businesses. There is no proliferation of national chains here. In fact, I only saw 1 Starbuck's the entire time.

But just as it is quaint, it is still a city with some of the typical city amenities like tv stations, parking garages and a gloomy city-scape view and hills...lots of hills.

I enjoyed my visit to Portland. Got a glimpse of local culture and shipped home some lobster and shrimp for our dinner tomorrow night. Only $7.00/lb. here. Even with shipping, it's cheaper than buying it in Richmond.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yes...I am a bit of a redneck

On May 2nd, I went to the Nascar race at RIR. It's been 5 years since the last race I attended. In fact, Rachel was 6 months pregnant and we hooted and hollared for Jr. (He won). This time, I only hollared. No hootin. Kyle Busch won. Aside from that, it was a good day.