Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"120, 240 Whatever it takes"


Round two with the wiring project for the air compressor. I just finished the 240 receptacle box last night when it occurred to me that I had wired it upside down. Rats. So here I was lying on the cold garage floor re-wiring the box. Once fixed, I head down stairs. I turn off the power at the main box to the sub panel box. Moving a couple of breakers around I wire and slide in the dual 30 amp breaker. I cross my fingers and turn on the power, no flames, no sparks… I head up to the garage. I check the air compressor one last time and plug it in. I grab the knob and give it a twist. It fires right up. Perfect, and I finished just in time to take the boys to play flag football. It is an unofficial practice, but it goes well and the boys look good.

The afternoon is spent with miscellaneous chores that take me right up to dinner time.
We end the day watching Toy Story, a classic. Bed can not comes fast enough, I am exhausted.

December 29, 2009


I am a man on a mission. The days are quickly running away and my vacation time is nearing an end, unfortunately my “to-do” list has not reached the end. I head to Home Depot and pick up the supplies necessary to run 240 volt line for the compressor. At home I dig in. Surveying the layout I head down stairs to the basement. Looking around I see a spot about 8 inches high where I can put the receptacle boxes. It works out great. The day is spent running wires and wiring the boxes.

In the morning I will drop in the new circuit breakers. This day goes by way too fast. Jack heads to the movies with his buds. Wil has a sleep over with his bud.

Though I wanted to go to bed early, it is nearly mid-night when I finally go to bed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back On Track

I wake up early. Not too early, it is already 6:00 when I start running. I am running alone this AM. It feels good. It is cold out, though I am only wearing to long sleeve technical T’s and it feels okay. I have my hat and gloves on and that helps. The first mile is uneventful, it feels a little quick but not too much. Just after starting the second mile I decide to turn it on. I pick up the pace, I lengthen my stride. I want to open the lungs. Am I in shape for this no… should I be doing this… no. The lion just wants to roar! I am feeling it, a good tune comes on the iPod. It is like pouring gasoline on the fire. My legs are heating up, my lungs are burning and my heart is pounding. My body would like to stop, but my mind overrides my body and keeps on pushing. I have a certain spot in mind where I will back it off though I refuse to give any margin until I have reached that spot.

I visualize a race, I visualize a runner a head, I visualize a finish line. This is no longer a training run, it has become a race. This type of running is different from a marathon. A marathon is endurance, grit, determination, this type of running has those elements but is more about power, speed, and screaming raw energy, right now it feels good. I see the runner ahead, I push harder, the legs turn faster, the stride opens up. I am closing the gap… meters to go I catch and pass my imaginary runner.

A small victory to start the day. I cool the jets, my lungs are feeling it. During the run, I noticed my left leg is having difficult catching up with my right leg. I know where I need to do my work this winter/spring.

At home I find out that Kim’s parents are coming to visit today. We scramble to clean up. A lot of work is done in a short time.

It is good to see her parents. The girls head to the shops… the boys we head off to Sears for tools, the Guitar Center, wear Kim’s dad jams on guitar while I pluck and struggle (the boys played on the bongos), next stop lunch, Five Guys, it is a good burger. With Jimmy (Kim’s Dad) in town, I steal his expertise, we head to Home Depot. He points out everything I need to hook up the compressor.

Back at the house we hook up with the girls. Jimmy is jamming on the guitar while we listen. He plays so well. I have a long, long way to go.

As they leave for home, we just hang around. It feels more like a Sunday though it is Monday. I take care of a few work emails. Again, on vacation, but customers are important.

The evening is leftovers and later watching football on the couch and trading a few email with Jay. We pick our next race... It will be the first race of 2010.

Another great day.

Weight 182. Need to do better.

December 27, 2009


I get up early and we all head out for breakfast. I feel fat. I eat lightly at Mel’s Heading home there is much to do. I have a plan.

I first I put a varnish on my painting. It looks great. Next, I head to Sears. I pick up a few supplies. After Sears, I go to Home Depot. I return some purchases and pick up my 60 gallon air compressor. I have been hoarding gift cards so I could buy the compressor. It is a critical tool to restore the Mustang. My winter/spring project.

The compressor is just what I wanted and I am able to get it home in the Expedition, though it is huge. I call my neighbors and they help me unload the air compressor. Over the next several days I will hook it up and run a 240 volt line to power the beast.

Kim suggest that we head to Taco Mac to watch the Giants play. It is the last game in the old Giants Stadium, I remember seeing them play there with my brother years and years ago. They Giants need to win to stay in the play off hunt. Rather they stink up the game and loose. They are out of the play-off picture. Not only did they loose, they play with no heart and are creamed. Tough to watch. A family wearing Eagles gear snickers as we leave. Typical of an Eagles fan, maybe I am being sensitive. Dang Giants.

At home I am back in action. I have a project to complete, an access through a closet to a storage area has no door. I need to build one. I go to it. I frame out the door opening. Next I build the door. It is so much better than the last door I built. It also helps that I have the right tools. I good miter saw and framing square. I use good wood chisels to notch out the hinges. The door is square and fits tight. I finish the door just before the Sunday Night Football game comes on.

The day was busy and productive. Jack and Wil and big help to me today. Kim too she gives me the time to get this stuff done.

Thanks Kim, Jack and Wil.

December 26, 2009


I get up early and decide to go for a run. Not much, just a simple 5 mile run. Arriving at LTF, the parking lot is empty. I start off slow, but warm up well and pick up my stride. I am no out to do anything but put in a good run. Back at the gym I stretch and head home.

Kim heads out of the house and the boys and I just play, goof off and just hang out. Later we meet Kim for lunch. It was a year ago today that my Mom passed away. She is missed. My mom was a good mom, a lot of love. My brother heads over to see my Mom and Dad at the cemetery. He takes a bottle of Southern Comfort, their drink, and he calls me. We toast them together.

The afternoon is spent fixing a few drafty windows. I should have done it months ago, but at least it is done now. Much better.

We meet friends for pizza for dinner. At the last minute Jack and I decide to go see Avatar. It is amazing. The storyline predictable, but he movie making is great. We get home at 1:30 AM. I am exhausted.

Weight today 183... Too much eating the past few days. Dang, 5 pounds!

December 25, 2009

Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to all! It is a wonderful day.

December 24, 2009

Thursday. Christmas Eve day. I want to finish the painting today. My goal is to have it done before Christmas. I get up early and meet Jay for a swim. I see Jeff, Ann Marie, Stacy and the gang. I wish them all a Merry Christmas. As they leave, Jay and I start our swim workout. It is tough to begin a workout while everyone else is finishing. We get the work done. It feel good to be back in the pool. Though I still struggle in the water.

Back home I am jumping to dig into the painting. I put my iPod on listening to music while I paint. I am in a good mood. Why not, it is Christmas Eve. The painting is going quickly. I feel good about how it looks and knowing it will help raise money for a good cause.

I wrap up the painting early. Jeff Craver stops by and we sit for a while and have a beer. I know he has to go, but I enjoy his company and thank he and Tarran for the great cookies.

As Jeff leaves, I finish up the painting. It take a good part of the day. The afternoon is spent doing a few last minute details for Christmas, wrapping a few purchases.

We get ready for church. It has been a while since we have been, but is feels good to go, it just feel right.

Back at home we settle in for the night. No big dinner, just snacks while we are backing. Cookies, bread, and other treats. The day is calming down, though the boys are getting more excited. Jack is in the know, but Wil can not wait much longer for the man in red to show.

Soon enough bedtime is upon us. Wil and Jack head to sleep. Kim and I put It’s A Wonderful Life on the television and start pulling out the packages and gifts. Christmas is thinner than the past, but the love and happiness is still just a s strong. The best gift a year of good health for the family and friends.

Kim and I settle to bed. I will not sleep much. Though I will not have any presents under the tree from Santa, I am no better than a child on Christmas Eve. I wake every 2 hours to see if it is time to get up.

December 23, 2009

Wednesday. I get up early and put in a good run. I feel good. It is an easy run, my last before Christmas. Jay and I keep it light, 5 miles, an even 8:00 minute pace.

At home I have Kim help me move the table, my “canvas” for the painting. It is heavy, but she is tough. Several months ago I volunteered to donate a paining for an upcoming charity event. I have donated to the group for the past 4 years. In the past, they have had artist paint a chair. I have done some really cool chairs for them. The first was a rocking chair that looked like a cow. This year as I was browsing the chair selection I was not impressed with the offerings. Nothing really grabbed my attention. While walking through the warehouse, I saw several ornate dining room table tops. Apparently when a dining room table top is scratched, they remove the legs and send those back to be used again my the factory, however the tops are sent to charities. The charity take a few bucks and slaps on 4 x 4 legs from home depot. Basically you have a $1,000 - $2,000 top with $20 table legs. But it works and is good for those who need them.

The tables are great and the ornate edges looked like cool frames. Laying there I say not table tops, but some really big canvases. I suggested that they take 3-4 prominent artist and have them paint some “Master Work” size paintings to be auctioned. They loved the idea and said, great, you be the first.

So the table top sat in my house 2-3 months. Sure I have been busy, but I knew what I wanted to paint, the problem; I have not painted in 8 months. I really have not painted much since my Mom died the day after Christmas last year. I needed to get past this. It has been almost a year since my Mom passed.

Once Kim and I dragged the top in the house I got busy. My goal today, prime the top, so I could have a surface to paint on.

I had thought about doing a stop frame video of the painting process, but really I just wanted to dig into it.

I was able to prime the top, sketch out the painting and get started. It was odd at first. I was having difficulty getting the paint to flow like I had in the last. Part was the fact the surface had no “tooth” or texture to paint into, the second, I was rusty. Much of painting is not just knowing the color, but having the feel for the flow of the paint.

After a fight through the first cow, it starts coming back… I can feel the paint. It is blending , the colors are starting to flow and the with every stroke I am getting my confidence back.

The more I do to the table the better it looks. The last time I painted in my dinning room I was painting a life sized cow for the Cow Parade.

It is starting to look good. I am finding my groove.

Weight 179

December 22, 2009

Tuesday. The day is filled with running around making last minute purchases. I spend the majority of the day with the boys. It is a good time. I spend more time working again, though I am on vacation. Oh well it comes with the job. If it were easy anyone could do it.

I meet Jay at lunch and get a decent swim in.

I will start working on the paining tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

T - F - S - S - M

December 21, 2009

Monday. I wake up at 5:15 AM. I feel good and I am happy that I laid out my running gear the night before. It is cold outside, 31 degrees. I have my long running pants, under armor, and two technical shirts. I also have a really cool running hat and gloves. I am excited to get out there and run. It has been over a week since the race and I have been itching to get out there and put a run together.

Meeting Jay we planned on a easy 6 mile run. As always we goo out too fast. What a laugh. You’d think we have learned with the results from the marathon. We do back it down, though it does not matter, by mile 3-4 all the hot spots that hurting during the race come flaring back up. Not a surprise. We likely should have only ran a couple of miles. By the end of the run, we are done.

Amazing how much a 26.2 mile run destroys the fitness built over 4 months. Over the next several weeks I will gradually build back the fitness with a greater emphasis on speed.

Monday is jammed with calls though it is my day off. Oh well. The afternoon I visit my cousin and the evening we have a Christmas party downtown. The party is fun and the view from the tenth floor over looking the city is fantastic. Afterward we head for dinner. It too is great, Six Feet Under a favorite of ours. On the way home, we turn on the radio to listen to the Giants game as we drive. IT IS NOT ON THE RADIO, and I forgot my satellite radio. Rats. No problem, I call brother Dave and he give us a play by play while we are driving. The Giants look great and I enjoy the game sitting on the couch with Jack and Wil. Good stuff.

Tomorrow I will swim and also work on a painting. I need to start painting again.

December 20, 2009

Sunday. Enjoying the time with Kim’s family. We relax and spend time just hanging around. Nothing outstanding, but the day goes by. We pile in the car for our 3 hour ride home. It too goes by quickly as we listen to football on the radio. At home we head for pizza a salad. We are all in bed early as the Viking do nothing against the Panthers and lose in the fourth quarter.

December 19, 2009

Saturday. GAME DAY! It is one week past the race. I am still smiling, that little personal victory will stay with me for years. I gather the family and we decide to head to Mel’s for breakfast. I load up knowing that it might likely be the only thing I eat this day. Earlier we decided we would head out to August for a family party after the game.

Breakfast done, we head home and get ready for Jack’s game. We get there early and run through our plays. I had planned on putting our kicking game together on Friday. With Friday rained out, we are putting some last minute play detail together on Saturday just before the start of the game.

It is the first game of the season. The boys are nervous. I tell them good, you are supposed to be. We line up and one and win the coin toss. The one co-captain yells out “defer” before I can say a word. “What” I yell no… not defer. I override the decision, “We’ll take the ball”. As we are walking to the sideline I ask what are you thinking… “That’s what I do in Madden 10” he tells me. I laugh.

The boys are lined up and the ball kicked, game on! Our first series stalls, we make a number of mistakes and turn the ball over. It is deep in our territory, but I refused to punt and put it on the defense to raise to the occasion. The opposing team, the Bengals, have a few good plays include a great passing play to a girl on their team. She is good and as tall as our tallest kid. She is easily one of the top players on that team. The good pass is followed by a good run and the Bengals are on the move. I mix up the line a bit and call out a few players to adjust their play. They are seeing the ball, but not taking the right angles. The adjustments work and force them to turn it over on downs. Between the downs one of the boys asked me, “how do the block the girls without hitting her in the “boobs” coach” Uh… Just block her. I really had not thought about it, but I tell them to hit the opponent right in the chest. I say aim a little higher. Okay.

With the ball in our hand the “jitters” gone, the boys march down the field. We have a thirds and long and I bring out a trick play, “The Bomb” We shift the left running back to the right end of the line. The ball is pitched to the right running back. It looks like a sweep, while he is moving, the tight end releases down field, uncovered, and the running back picks up his block. The ball is launched and caught. It takes us to the one yard line. I call a power shift center and Jack punches it in for a touchdown! We go for two, a power shift right, we have the left end release. Jack rolls to the left, the linebacker is forced to cover two people, he goes for Jack and leaves the end. Jack throws it over the defender, 2 points!

We end out with 4 touchdowns, and a safety! The score 30 – 0, the boys played well, Jack went 6 for 8 and scored two touchdowns.

We start the season with a win and the boys are excited. It is a long season though.
At home we pack our bags and head off for a family party with Kim’s family in Augusta. It is a party, Kim’s dad and others brought their guitars and put on a show. Cool.

A good day, start to finish.

December 18, 2009

Friday. Another day of sleeping in… well not really, I am up again at 5:00 AM. Jack has his big school project, the desktop store front. The desktop store front is a business project, the kids must develop a project, write a business plan, and operate the store. Jack decided to make “designer t-shirts” and sell them to his classmates. I was pleased with his business skills, he had a few challenges; 1) he knew that the kids really would not spend more than $5, 2) he knew that the shirts cost $10 to make. With those hurdles, he decided to find a sponsor. HomeTown Mortgage read the business plan and cut Jack a check. I was impressed he negotiated a business deal and cut his cost by 50%. Next he worked with the printer and negotiated the first 5 shirts for free… now his cost was $50. He did well. The shirts looked great too. I dropped Jack off at school and his store top looked good. I wished him well, but with 60 other store fronts I told him not to get his hopes too high, that he might sell a few shirts, but no matter what I was proud of all the work he had done. Back home I took care of meetings and email and at 11:00 I was to return to the school to pick up the remaining merchandise from the store. I walked in to the cafeteria and Jack was hanging with his buddies. I asked, “how’d it go”. “Sold out”. Jack sold out within an hour! There were 21 kids out there wearing the various shirts that Jack designed.

I picked up the gear congratulated him and drove off with a smile on my face, brimming with pride. Kim and I talked about it during our weekly lunch date.

The rain has been coming down and it caused me to cancel practice. I am happy that I had my “volunteer” practice on Wednesday. Saturday we will just go with what we have that day.

A few of the families on the team decide to head out for Pizza. We return to our house for a few drinks and cookies. The evening runs into late night. I think it was 1:00 AM when I finally go to bed. A fun and successful day.

December 17, 2009

Thursday. It is official, I really am bored. I considered the idea of swimming this morning, but with all the work that piled up last week and knowing that I am off the next two weeks, well, I am essentially, jamming all this work into one week. The day is highlighted with William’s class holiday party. We have a blast and I enjoy reading to the class. The rest of the day slips by uneventfully. Sometimes that is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The good things in life are free...

December 15, 2009

Tuesday. Recovery. Is it possible I am already bored. I planed to take a week off and let my body recover. Though I did not swim this morning, I did still wake at 5:00 AM. Too many emails and work to finish up. I sat in one place at my desk from 5:00 – 11:00 AM jamming on email, writing proposals, talking to clients and setting up meetings, this was followed by a rush of meetings and calls that did not stop until late in the evening.

I was down stairs working when Kim flashed the basement lights letting me know that dinner was ready. The evening shot by. Another game of chess with Wil, a few songs and it was time for the Charlie Brown Christmas.

I had seen the special once already this year, but how can you pass on Charlie Brown Christmas . A quick show of hands in the family living room and all agreed Snoopy is the best character.

Bed time came quickly and Wil was fast asleep. Jack and I played Madden 2010 again staying up too late before being chased to bed by Kim.

There were only moments available with the family today, but they were all good.

Popcorn and Beer

December 14, 2009

Monday. Recovery. Last night I sent Jay an email saying I would meet him at the gym at 5:45 AM for our run… followed by “oh I forgot we already qualified, sleep in we deserve it!”

The legs are still stiff and though I make it to the gym for lunch, work calls and I have to cut my stretching short. I do see Corey as I am entering LTF, he is leaving. Not much is said we but we both nod to each other and share some small talk. His support and belief has been great these past few months.

The day is filled with work and the little things that make up life. I eat more cookies than I deserve and spend the evening with the boys. Wil and I have started to play a game of chess each night, followed by Christmas songs, me on guitar while he sings. It is not pretty, but we play and sing loudly and just do not care.

Jack is growing and he is quickly becoming a teenager. I will hug him as many times as possible in a year or two that will be gone. He is a good young man and I am proud of how hard he is working at school. We both stay up too late watching Monday Night Football. It is a common bond that we will likely always have, Kim comes to shoe him off to bed as Dad has let him stay up too long. I hope he will remember fondly the time spent on the couch eating popcorn and watching football.

Yeah, I was eating popcorn (and drinking a beer). I missed that these past few months of training, not that I stayed completely away from popcorn and beer, but I did so sparingly and never with our considerable thought. Tonight I just enjoyed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Next Day

The day after.

It is Sunday morning. The previous night Kim and I attended a Christmas party in the neighborhood. As much as my legs were barking from the run earlier in the day, it only served as a reminder of the accomplishment. It was good to spend time with Kim and I enjoyed the party. I spent the evening with a big smile on my face.

Sleep came quickly, but by 4 AM, I was up. My legs were aching. After several unsuccessful attempts at falling back to sleep, I decide I’m up.

Too early to wake anyone, I head down stairs and turn the lights on the Christmas tree. I sit on the couch and I think about the last 24 hours, when I remember that my buddy Bobalu is running today, his 35th consecutive White Rock Marathon.

Bobalu was the guy who told me the power of having running buddies. He also told me the four best things about running, something he shared the first time we ever ran together. A run that turned into a continuing friendship. I have found many life long friends through running.

Sunday breakfast at Mel's is a treat, they all ask if I made it, we celebrate with a big plate of bacon!

Later in the day, I make our "Fake Thanksgiving" dinner. We all enjoy an easy day relaxing and a great meal. Kim wins the "Marinich of the Week Award" for her support and sacrifice over the last 16 weeks.

The night will be spent with the family on couch, we'll all be wearing our Giants gear and cheering on the team.

So what are the four best things about running, for that, you have to run with me.

Race Day

Day 111

Boston Qualifying RACE. Saturday. Though I fell asleep easily last night, the rest did not come easy. I am up every two hours. Each time I glance outside our room that overlooks the race start, the sky is clear. Good. I fall back to sleep.

At last the alarm rings. The sky is clear, as expected, the weather has pushed back. A quick look at the weather on my computer and it is still calling for freezing rain. I dismiss it, it will not rain during the race, however, the temperature is cool, 31 degrees, and windy, surprise. The wind is blowing at 10-11 mph. A quick debate, tights or shorts… trained in shorts, run in shorts. Done. Top. My last race I wore a tight fitting top, I found it hard to breath during the race. I quickly drop my UnderArmor and decide, two technical long sleeve shirts. Done.

Looking out the window I see runners gathering at the start line. I eat a banana, half a bagel and force myself to eat a whole cliff bar, I wash it all down with a 26 oz of sport drink. The activity around the start line increases, it is almost time. Jay and I see Ann Marie and Stacy heading over to the start. My phone rings Kim and the boys wish me luck. I go over my check list, everything is ready, it is time. My phone rings again, my brother, David. He tells me have a great race, but the last thing he says really hits home, I thank him and hang up the phone. It’s time.

Moments before the race we are all gathered. Providing each other support for a good race. The runners are moving toward the starting line. Bart Yasso, who I had spoken with the day before is standing shoulder to shoulder with Jay and I as we move to our starting position. Bart, is considered the “Mayor of Running” having competed in over 1,000 races on all seven continents. He is also the Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World magazine, yet today, he stood there like all of us, just another runner.

Prior to the start someone Jay knows says he will run with us. He too needs a 3:30 to qualify for Boston. Jay welcomes him, and lets him know; we have a plan and will not deviate. A rifle fires and we are off, a hundred and ten days of training suddenly put into motion.

Over the last two days Jay has debated about wearing or not wearing his Garmin. Convinced to not deviate from our training, he wears the Garmin. Within a1/4 mile Jay says too fast. 7:45, we back it off the next two miles are run at a 7:55 pace. Jay's friend who joined us at the start line is well out of site. I look to Jay and say, “Trust the Garmin” we both nod knowingly.

Unlike my last marathon where the first mile was an 8:30, followed by a 7:15, and the pace jumped up and down like an EKG, ultimately ending in disaster, this race I am a steady. My pace does not waver, miles, 3, 4, 5, I think about the various land marks I passed on so many training runs, I know this pace, I keep it locked in, though the temptation is there to pick it up, that has all to often been my failings in previous marathons.

I feel good as we click-off the miles, and we begin to settle with a group of runners. The banter is light, we are all focused.

Hitting mile 11, the neighborhoods that have shielded us from the wind are gone. We are heading due east into the teeth of the wind. Earlier I shared that when the wind hit we would work as a group, like ducks, each of us taking time up front while the runners behind enjoyed the benefits of drafting. It works and a group of us work together.

Though the grade was rolling during this stretch, it seem to be mostly uphill and the wind and cambered road made it all the more challenging. In hindsight, I spent too much time at the lead on this section, but working with Jay he would later pay me back.

We passed Corey, not much was said, support was given, my resolve strengthened. I knew that though I felt strong at the moment, that moment could change at any time and I was beginning to look for the exit from this section and start the road back to the finish line.

A few miles after crossing the half-way mark, (13.1 miles @ 1:45:05 perfect) the course turned south back into the neighbor hoods. The wind now at our backs I stood a little taller and let my shoulders act like a sail. I began to look for the mile markers. It was between mile 13 and 16 last time (Vermont) that I had found myself in trouble, long before I expected. This time I was good. My conditioning was good, my legs were feeling as you would expect after 16 miles. Many of the group we had been running with pressed on ahead with the wind at their tails. Jay and I kept our pace.

Let them go, we are running our race today, I shared. Stay focused, relax the shoulders, lengthen your stride, keep all the leg muscle involved. Though I was saying this out loud, it was not for Jay’s benefit , but to audibly remind myself. Later I would find out that this advice was heard beyond my own ears.

Mile 17 snuck up on me. I was surprised and happy to see it. Mile 18 too came and went, though now I found myself looking for the mile markers. At mile 19 I make a mistake. My nutrition had been good so far, Gatorade at each stop, a gel at miles 7 and 14, but I thought I would wait until mile 22 for my next gel.

At mile 19 there was a station providing gels, smartly Jay grabbed one, I was indecisive and by the time I thought, "yes I need this" it was too late! I was past the station.

There I was on the course, one gel left, but no water ro sport drink around. I grabbed what was left from Jays gel and squished the last few drops out. It will have to do.

Up ahead we see the guy from the starting line that took off ahead of Jay and I, unfortunately he was done and walking. As we passed he tried unsuccessfully to join us, but his energy had been spent too early. We keep moving, keeping pace.

Mile 20 came, still no water station, I was becoming more focused on the miles and my time. I could sense that tough times might soon be ahead. My hamstring in my left leg and my left quad were starting to bark. I ignored it.

I thought to myself, 6.2 miles, a 10K in 48 minutes. I can do this. It is just like the 10K loop from Life Time. Mile 21 seemed long, still no water. Mile 22 I was beginning to feel the fatigue. I looked at Jay and much like our training runs, he had come alive. At the 21 mile mark we had switched positions. I was now running on his shoulder. DO NOT LEAVE HIS HEALS, I tell myself. I felt if I let the gap widen at all I might not ever close it.

Between Miles 21-23, it is my dark time. Negativity starts to creep in… I briefly think, no, not after this far, I can not fail after this far. I beat down the negative thoughts and focus on what I know, my conditioning and breathing are good. My legs are just tired and though I am hungry, I will find a station for Gatorade soon and things will get better.

I pull on thoughts of my family, my wife, my boys, my brother, friends the support and sacrifice they have all made so I can be here right now. It keeps me moving.

It appears Jay has speed up, the reality is I was slowing down. Running is a singular sport. It is you against yourself, what can you do, how much pain can you take. Jay and I have enjoyed training together for 16 weeks. Each of us feeding off the other to better our conditioning. I look at Jay he is strong right now and I am fading. Jay go. Nope, were good. I steel myself and look inward, time to find out who I am. Yes, it hurts. Yes it would be easy to stop, but that will not happen today.

Finally a water station, I take my last gel, gatorade and we keep running. I had waited too long for my nutrition and had lost 10 seconds this mile. I tell Jay he can go. Were good he says, though I see he is looking at his watch more frequently. I tell myself get to mile 24, than I tell Jay, we get to mile 24 we can pick it up.

Mile 24 appears. I look at my watch we are off time, still within the limits of our qualifying time, but I have caused us to give back 20 seconds from our earlier pace. We see the some of the group we had been running with earlier, their burst of energy spent, we swept past them quickly.

With the gel starting to kick in I can feel my tempo slowly increasing with each footfall. My energy is back, I am out of the dark place and had weathered the storm. I tell Jay, keep the pace until we hit mile 25 after that we are going to light a fire.

In the distance I see it, mile 25. A memory that I have carried for years is at the front of my mind. I remember vividly running at Disney one year and jogging next to a pace group, the pacer, looking over to a female athlete and saying to her as they passed mile 25 “your going to Boston” with pure joy in his voice and her guttural response followed by a burst of energy as she sprinted away towards a Boston Qualifying time. I have wanted that moment for a long time.

I hit the 25 mile marker, “let’s go” I say to Jay, “Just like track workout”, soon we are ripping it. We are passing people quickly and the distance is shrinking to the finish line.

I know right where we are on the course from driving it the day before, that little drive paid off. I am looking at my watch and calculating our time, we are well within time, I would later learn from Jay that at one point during that last mile we hit a 6:45 pace.

I see the hospital ahead and know that the finish line is nearing. The 26 mile marker is in sight, there is no pain, no fatigue, I feel light and strong, my body is moving without effort. Passing the 26 mile marker, my watch says I have nearly 4 minutes.

The finish line is soon in sight. I see the time on the clock , our pace dictated a 3:30:00, but the competitor inside says do better. Break 3:30. I keep the pace, and the last 100 yards my body and mind feel like raw crackling energy.

Crossing the finish line five years of work escapes me as I yell “Yes!”

My mind is racing... I think about what my wife shared in her email to me. I was pushed by the support of my family and friends their thoughts kept my legs turning when they were tired and only extensions of my body.

I look to Jay and tell him, we’re going to Boston and I thank him for the great friendship these past 16 weeks.

This marked my 10th marathon. My second singular attempt at qualifying for Boston, the “El Dorado” of running. My first try failed miserably, but further strengthened my resolve for this day. I can vividly recall at one point in my life thinking, a marathon was just too long, that I am not built for that type of running. That thought takes me to what my brother said to me in his call before the race.

“It does not matter how you end this day, or if you qualify or not qualify, but that you dared when others would not even try”

With my Boston Qualifying time in hand, I now can look to my next race, but my greatest success is that I dared.

Nervous... Good!

Day 110

Boston Qualifying Training. Friday. Tomorrow is Race day. Waking early, I enjoy a good breakfast, a 3 egg omelet, spinach, mushroom, bacon even a little cheese… it is good.

Jay also has an omelet, though his is an egg white omelet. Funny, I am standing there as the girl making the omelets calls out to Jay, Hey “egg white” your omelet is done. I laugh and tell Jay that he just got tagged with a new nick name, “Egg white”. He must have been a little sensitive to the new moniker as he calls me “Chubby”. Good to see we are keeping this light hearted.

I spend some of the morning working though I am on PTO. Again, emails and calls. Jay and I decide to go drive the course. We want to know what we are up against tomorrow. We learn a few things, 1) many of our friends who have told us this course is flat, do not know the meaning of flat. Though it is not as hilly as Alpharetta, it has numerous rises and several are deceptive long up hills, 2) it is a technical course with numerous turns and 3) we see what the last 5-6 miles looks like.

Though Jay is a little taken back by the grade, I know that we are good. Having trained in Alpharetta with the variety of hills we trained on, we will be good. I share with Jay that we will be running the tangents on the course, from one turn to the next, we will make a straight line.

A quick lunch and we hear from our friends, they have all arrived. A great group of athletes and friends. Hooking up in the hotel lobby, we all just relax. We sit in the lobby for almost 3 hours chatting about previous races, training, the race, the course, the holidays, family, expectations, hopes and fears.

It is the longest I have sat and done nothing in six months. Dinner plans are made and we break up heading to our rooms to get ready. There are 13 of us heading for dinner. The hostess was very accommodating and we are seated far sooner than expected.

As the time to the race draws near I find my mind racing, rather than my typical extroverted self, I am drawing inward. As a coach to both my sons footballs teams I have often found they too become quiet as game time approaches. I can see it in their faces. I would ask, “Are you nervous?” a slight pause, and a hesitant “Yes”. My response is always “Good, your supposed to be nervous!” the first time I shared this, my oldest was shocked. “Good, why good?” he asked. I told him, that being nervous was the way the body and mind prepared itself, that he was nervous because he wanted to perform well.

Now as I sit at the dinner table, I am engaged with the conversations, but inside, I am getting quiet. The time is drawing closer. I am becoming my twelve year old son. I want to do well.

Heading back to the Hotel there is talk about the weather, I am not concerned about the weather, I can not change the weather. Later as I lay in bed, think about the day ahead tomorrow. I consider the training, 437 miles of running, not one run day missed, I only missed a handful of swim workouts, my core workouts good, lifting, I could have done better, but I can not do anything about that now. My mind begins racing. I email my wife good night. Just before falling asleep, she replies, “Gooooooo Marinich’s, Have a great run. Try to enjoy it and focus on this race, not the next one”. My mind quiets and I fall asleep.

Time To Go

Day 109

Boston Qualifying Training. Thursday. My sleep is restless, not because I am thinking about the race. All the work is done, whatever happens on Saturday I can not change now. Rather I keep waking knowing that I need to be tied up by the “Elves” before Wil wakes. It is payback time.

The previous evening, I tied the elves up and placed them on the train tracks under the Christmas tree. Wil and I have shared a love hate relationship with the elves since they have arrived. It tickles Wil to see me go on about the mischievous elves.

Finally morning arrives and I quietly head down stairs. I place myself in a chair tied up in ropes, a Santa hat on my head and the elves sitting with their prized catch, me. Wil has a great laugh to see the tables were turned.

The morning is spent with more meetings and work activity than I have had all week. I do not move from my seat as one meeting is followed by the next. Between meetings I squeeze in phones calls and simultaneously send emails.

In the back of my mind is the upcoming race. I have already packed and my running gear is an assortment that should have me prepared for any type of weather.

A few emails pop up from Jay, providing and estimated time for his arrival and our departure.

I hang up on my last meeting as Jay pulls in the drive way. Quick hugs and kisses with the family and I am out the door. The ride to Huntsville is 4 hours, however both Jay and I are pressed with more calls for work and the time goes by quickly.

It is dark and cold when we arrive. The hotel is nice and hosting a managers evening, free beer and snacks, tempting… but no. Heading right to the room, we change and head out for a 20 minute run. We start at the beginning of the marathon course and enjoy the crisp air and the ability to stretch our legs after the long ride.

The light are turned out early, we both know that tomorrow night, the night before the race sleep will be restless.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One More Goal

Day 108

Boston Qualifying Training. I spent the evening decorating Christmas cookies with Wil, they came out great and I only ate two, hard to pass up a cookie that is designed by your child. Later we all settled on the couch watching Christmas shows. A Charlie Brown Christmas and a new special by Disney, “Prep and Landing”, they were both good.

Charlie Brown Christmas, a classic, surprisingly Prep and Landing was equally good, different, but good. Most of the recent animated holiday specials have been lame, either forced or contrived. This was original and a good story, humor for the kids and the parents with a good message. It had me thinking, what are the top Christmas shows (animated), I am having a hard time ranking but if I were to pick five, I would say, Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, that is four, number five is tough. Little Drummer Boy was good but is so religion based that they do not put it on TV anymore, Frosty, cute, bad animation though, Olive the Other Reindeer, could make the list, but after last night, I would have to say that Prep and Landing may have taken the fifth spot. As I am laying in bed I try to think of anything that might bump it off the list when I finally drift off to sleep.

Strong winds and heavy rain wake me from my sleep. I look out my window and see a small stream running past my house. The water coming down is heavy, very heavy. I go back to sleep and hope that the rain subsides. I do not want to run my last run on the treadmill.

Waking a little past 5:00 AM, I no longer hear the rain, I feel fresh as I dress, my body a little less stiff than it has been. I feel good. Driving to meet by buddies at LTF for the last training run, it is hard to believe that 16 weeks have gone by since I started this journey.

Looking back, it went by fast, I remember looking at the schedule on the first day and it seemed daunting. I am happy that I made it through the training program healthy; I was able to complete every run, that amounts to 435 miles over the last 16 weeks. I weighed 181 on August 24th and trimmed down to 177, hitting as low as 175, my goal weight.

Meeting Jay we hook up with a new runner, Bill. He and his daughter are also running the Huntsville Marathon on Saturday. Though our pace is a little quick for Bill he joins us. Unfortunately, we go out a little fast, however at the end of three miles I have us exactly at 24 minutes, 8:00 per mile, race pace. It felt good and we carried a conversation through most of the run. Corey who had run with Michelle earlier met us at mile 2.3 and ran in with us, his company was appreciated as well as his support these past 16 weeks.

Finishing, we jogged back to LTF. So many thoughts swirled in my head. The first being, “DONE!”, the training is done, every workout hit, weights, lifted, diet and sacrifice made, and habits such as going to bed too late changed. It has been 16 weeks of dedication. Obviously that is a great accomplishment, but one goal remains. The point of this journey, a qualifying time for Boston, I am confident in my training, but still fear the unknown. I have done my best to eliminate many of the unknown, distance, covered, 5 x 20 miles runs, nutrition, absolutely certain on the evening before meal and fairly confident on the nutrition during the run, where and when to take gels. Cramping, I have had issues with my left leg on the long run, but it is ready. At this point I need to stop analyzing the training, the race and just relax.

On race day I will line up with over a 1,500 others and at 9:00 AM ET, the gun will go off. I know I have enjoyed the journey, the support by my wife, kids, family and good friends these past weeks have been great.

Weight… I walked by the scale, but I feel good.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Day 107

Boston Qualifying Training. Last night I enjoyed hanging with Wil and watching Santa Claus is Coming to Town, a classic. He was curled up next to me on the couch, I can remember doing the same thing when I was his age. That little classic transcends generations.

Wil off to bed, I turn on Monday Night Football for a few minutes. I really need the Ravens to win. It is not looking good. I have had a 10 game lead on Kim for our family picks. Now with 4 weeks left in the season, she has had two great weeks and I am only up by 3 games going into the last 4 weeks. The race is on.

It is 5:45 when I wake up. Sleeping in feels good. I arrive at the gym a little earlier than Jay head to the bikes. I see the gang in the pool. Not this week. No swimming, it is too fatiguing.

At the bike I spin, not aggressive, just an easy spin. Jay arrives and we turn the peddles for 30 minutes. This is followed by a light stretch. Heading down the stairs, I shower and walk past the scale. No more scale until after the race. I head home and put Wil on the bus and see Jack off to school.

Getting ready for work, I feel guilty, like not enough was done for today’s “workout”. I barely broke a sweat. I have to keep myself focused. I know that Wednesday will feel better when we run the 3 mile pace run.

Weight… I do not want to know.

Monday, December 7, 2009

All I want for Christmas is a BQ time.

Day 106

Boston Qualifying Training. The start of Week 16 and the last week of training. I wake 15 minutes early and decide to roll over for the extra sleep. I had an incredible dream in those 15 minutes, so it was totally worth the extra few minutes. When I wake up I have a smile on my face, it is easy to get going. I hop out of bed and dress quickly. Stepping outside the stars are bright, but clouds are rolling in, it gives the sky a surreal look.

Arriving early at LTF, the gang shows up and off we go. The run, 6 x 400 @ 1:35, with the warm up done, we get right to the workout. I start us off and hit within 2 seconds of goal. The pace is effortless. The next five 400’s are just as close and equally easy. Jay say's "it feels as if we are running at 85% effort', he right. We are ready. We all finish up an head back to stretch. The banter is light and mostly focused on what to wear on race day.

I head home and put Wil on the bus, Jack off to school and me off to work. My weight, yeah I know I said I would not weigh myself until after the race, but I could not stop myself from stepping on the scale as I walked by. Weight… 177. I’ll take it.

Race day is like Christmas.. it can not get here fast enough, 6 days to go!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Giants Win, Yeah Baby!

Day 105

Boston Qualifying Training. Sunday. For the past two days I have been waking up at 5:30, not just waking, but wide awake. I decide to roll over and catch a few more Z’s. An hour later and that is enough, I’m up. The boys are up too… St. Nick did come last night and left games and a new Giant shirt for each of the boys.

There is a lot to do, but we start our Sunday like every Sunday morning, off to Mel’s. Mel’s wife is a big, huge, Alabama fan and she was brimming over with pride from the win Saturday, knowing her team would be going to play for the College National Championship. It was also her birthday on Friday, she is 75 years young and going strong.

We make our picks, have a great breakfast, including a big plate of bacon, my last bacon before the marathon. Breakfast done we head out to take care of errands.

At home the final touches to the Christmas decorations are made. All the trees are up and trimmed, decorations hung and light strung. I clean up the yard and plant a flower bed with various colors for the winter. The garage is cleaned out, the cars are cleaned out, filters are changed, rugs vacuumed, floors swept, and the leaves cleaned off the deck. Time for dinner. I make a favorite City Chicken. It takes a little time, but it is great. Cubed chicken, skewered, rolled in Italian bread crumbs, egg and again Italian bread crumbs. It is fried to crisp up the breading and than baked. Perfect. Healthy, not likely, tasty, you bet. I practice some willpower and only have two and some fruit for dinner, a cookie for desert and I am good for the evening.

The Marinich of the Week Award is handed out by last weeks recipients, Jack and Wil. It is a tough choice... it comes down to Kim and I and barely inch her out for the honors. She is likely more deserving, but we stand by the decision.

The Giants are on today, we are all dressed in out colors. Kim makes a confession to NOT having wore her lucky Giant panties on Thanksgiving. Clearly that is why the Giants we destroyed by the Broncos. Today that mistake is not repeated. This is a win or go home game for the Giants. If they are going to stay in the play-off hunt, they have to beat the Cowgirls. I do my best to not get emotionally involved but my blood runs Blue and Red and soon enough I am cheering and jeering at the television. The investment pays off with a Giants win. The bad part is I have already ruined my boys, though it is fun to watch as they are in to the game too, cheering and high-fives all around.

We enjoy the remaining evening just relaxing. A few emails for work and the rest of the day will be just watching football and hanging on the couch as we get ready for a great week.

Tomorrow will be the start of Week 16, the last training week and the last track workout. I will enjoy the 6 x 400’s though it will be cold in the early morning, it will be fun as the gang will be in high spirits. Jay and I will hit our marks and focus on pace. The idea this week is to stay sharp and watch the diet. I am already feeling a little fat and likely I am over 180. I do not want to know. I feel good and my body feels healthy going into the last week.

Let's Have a Parade

Day 104

Boston Qualifying Training. Saturday morning. I wake up early, not for a run, but a parade. Jack, Wil and the football team are in the John’s Creek Christmas Parade, representing the Newtown Recreation Parks department. The cold weather was not a lot of fun, but the kids had a great time.

The day is spent raking the yard and hanging with the boys. We head out for dinner and enjoy and relaxing evening. The boys put their shoes out in hopes that St. Nick would visit in the night. I am happy that he’s coming… it gives those darn Elves a night off of their mayhem.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Trust Me... He Says

Day 103

Boston Qualifying Training. The last long run. I woke up several times during the night, once again anticipating the long run. Unlike the last few runs I was not concerned about my ability to hold pace. I knew that I could and it would feel good. When the alarm finally went off I was ready to go. I made the usual bottle drops and met Jay at LTF.

The run started with a nice comfortable pace, though a little fast, 7:50’s not too bad. Jay said, not to worry, he had us dialed in for a good consistent 7:59 pace. In his word’s “trust me Bob”. We plotted along the next several miles… I would occasionally ask Jay, how are doing. The same words “trust me”, okay. The pace never seemed too fast and at time may have felt a little slow but Jay would always give me that reassuring nod and say, “trust me”, and I would and keep on running.

Climbing the top of “Mount Westside Parkway”, I looked at Jay once again, “Bob… trust me”. Okay. The run took us to the intersection of Haynes Bridge and Academy, we were now 2 miles from the completion of our last long run. An easy 10 miles with 8 miles behind us. I took a moment to consider how effortless this run has been. I also thought about the five 20 miles runs, the two 18 miles runs, the 17 mile run and the three 15 mile runs that we have completed to arrive at this point. So far we have run 428 miles of training runs.

I look back to Jay knowing and expecting him to once again say… “trust me Bob…” and know we are right on pace. Glancing over I see Jay, he says nothing. I look again… nothing. I ask, “how we doing?” Uh.., um… we're behind. We need to pick it up. What!?!?

The reality is we were not really behind. Our pace goal was 7:59, we were at 8:02 which is qualifying pace. I give him a quick jab with “trust me Bob” "oh ah 8:02".

We decide to pick up the pace though we do not really need to. It is down hill so it was easy enough to just lengthen our stride and roll down the hill. We end with a 7:58 pace. Jay turns to me, "see trust me".

Back at the gym, we hook up with Corey, Ann Marie and Susan. We stretch and chat about the upcoming race, hotel stays, driving route and the normal things one would discuss before a race.
Unlike my last marathon, I feel a great deal of confidence. It will not be easy, it is not a slam dunk, but the confidence from knowing I have done the work and stayed healthy through the process is comforting.

There are two more runs until we are finished, but they are throw away runs, 6 x 400 at the track Monday and a 3 mile marathon pace run on Wednesday. I will not gain or lose conditioning from these runs, they are only to keep me mentally focused and sharp.

The next week will both drag by and fly by as my anticipation for the start of the race on Saturday grows. If I could I would run the race tomorrow.

My weight was 178 today, disappointing, but I decided I need not worry about that right now and it is likely I will not step on a scale again until after the race. Rather I will eat smart and not over eat.

Today will be busy at work with calls and emails. I have my standing lunch date with my wife at noon and football practice with Jack and the boys in the evening.

Tonight we’ll settle around the TV tonight watching a Christmas movie and finish putting up the holiday decorations. A pretty good deal.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Day 102

Boston Qualifying Training. This sleeping in thing is different. I did not get to bed as early as the previous evening, however I did sleep until just after 6:00 AM. I felt good as I stretched and got ready for the day. I knew the many of my friends were like halfway through their main set in the Masters swim workout. Jay and I are opting out of the morning swims.

Today we will hit about 2,100 meters, 300 warm up, 100 other, 100 drill, 5 x 200 on 4:00 and 1 x 500 250 paddles/250 free and a 100 cool down. We keep the workout intense, but reduce the distance as we draw closer to race day. Next week I will drop the swim completely and substitute it with 20 minutes of easy spinning on the bike and stretching.

Downstairs Wil is slightly disappointed. The Elves that are typically tearing up our house and making a mess have been productive during the night a strung all the lights on the Christmas tree. It looks great. Wil said he prefers when they make me angry. Wil has too much character and that is a good thing.

Meeting Jay at lunch, we dive into our workout, pun not intended. I have been swimming for a while now and for a brief period of time felt that I was gaining speed. However today I am almost right where I started. Jay however has really dropped his times. A few more tweaks to his stroke and swimming form and he’ll be graduating to the next lane. We do not spend any time on the wall and each set is promptly followed by the next. Our main set is done with no cheating on the time and soon enough we are completely done, 2000 meters in 30 minutes.

Hard to believe. I ask Jay is that a mile, he has no idea, but neither do I… Looking it up on the net, 2000 meters = 1.24 miles. Not bad, we hammered out 2000 meters, or 1.24 miles the equivalent of a half-ironman distance swim in 30 minutes. Again, not bad.

A quick cool down, shower and I step on the scale. The scale shows that I am back to 177. I really thought my weight would be more like 174, oh well. How I gained 2 pounds from yesterday I have no idea, but I tell myself this is not the time to worry about the pounds. I will gain weight during this taper time. I just need to eat well and not over do it on the calories.

For lunch I decide a salad and slice of pizza would be good. Stopping at our new pizza place, Vintage Pizza, I catch up on emails and phone calls and make it a productive meal. When it comes time to pay, the owner picked up my tab. Nice… I drop a generous tip and head home.

More work ends the day and takes me up to dinner time. Tonight, pasta, the same as it has been every Thursday for weeks now, nothing fancy plain pasta with butter and a little salt.

Tomorrow I have my last long run before the marathon. Only 10 miles. It will seem short compared to our 20 mile runs. I’ll be in bed early tonight we start running at 5:15, which means a 4:40 AM wake up.

The day will end with the family hanging our Christmas decorations on the tree. Each of them a snap shot in time, a memory from Christmas past, childhood, dating, marriage, some good times and some with have sad memories. Over all it will be grounding and help me remember what is so important not just at Christmas but year round, family.

Like A Mouse on a Wheel

Day 101

Boston Qualifying Training. Sleeping in two days in a row. With Jay traveling it was decided we would hit our tempo run during the lunch hour. The goal was to hit the Greenway, however it has been raining non-stop for the past 12 hours. The closer we get to lunch time, the more I know that the Greenway is out. It is now my hope that we can hit a quick loop around LTF, anything but the treadmill. The hours pass, the rain does not. By lunch it is raining harder than anytime this week. Treadmill.

I think the treadmill has a great place in fitness, I also know my greatest increase in speed was the winter I did speed training on the treadmill, but with marathon training I find it both physically and mentally challenging. Today’s tempo is 7:14 for 3 miles with a 2 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down.

As I travel the stairs to the rows of treadmills, I take one more hopeful glance outside. It is pouring and I see a guy in the parking lot building a large boat and gathering animals two by two. I give up hope of an outside run and steel myself for what will be a challenging run.

The 2 mile warm up does not go quickly and I determine that there is nothing on the 20 TV’s in front of me that will keep my attention of distract me during this run. The only option I find interesting is ESPN, but it is 15 yards away and I can not reasonably run with my neck craned 90 degrees. I decide at that point to get the most of what I have in front of me. I know this will be boring, I know it is be mentally tough and physically challenging as the treadmill pace never wavers. I embrace the challenge. I think to myself, this is the last few miles of the Marathon.

The tempo miles begin, the pace quickens and I adjust my stride to meet the accelerated pace of the treadmill. My breathing rate is high and so is my heart rate. I focus on the miles and watch them tick away. The sweat pouring from my body is now as steady as the rain outside, I embrace it, I finally start to feel good, I have found a rhythm. It is not easy and I still have to focus, there is no let down. I have passed halfway and the time starts to go by more quickly.

I glance over at Jay, his ipod on he is gliding, a little less of a struggle than myself but I am used to this. Again I think to myself, at some point during the marathon I am going to feel bad, I need to recall these mentally challenging days to pull through and keep moving forward. With that thought, the miles seem just slightly less challenging.

I know that though the miles are short, but work was done and I am better after running this tempo run than before.

Showering off I am happy the workout is done and it went well. I hop on the scale, I expect it to be 177-179. To my great surprise I am 175! Witnessed too, Jeff was walking by and I had him look at the scale. In hindsight, I am certain Jeff had no interest in looking at me standing on the scale naked to verify my weight. Clearly a good friend.

When I started this training, my goal was to hit 175. I figured if it were to happen it would happen on the last 20 mile run, or perhaps the last 13 mile run, it did not, those days were 176 and 177 respectively. I was a little down that I did not hit my goal weight at that time and decided to not worry about it after all I believe it hurt me during my last marathon that I was dieting the last two weeks trying to loose weight, (something I knew better than to do).

Why so hung up on 175. I believe that 175 is a great weight for me, I wrestled in college at 165 and 158 and my natural weight at that time was about 172-175. To consider the fact that I am at near college weight is great. Obviously there was a lot more muscle mass at that time and my waste was 32 inches where today I am at 34, still I take this as one more victory on the road to this the Marathon. Another goal achieved, with 4 more runs to go, I hope to knock off another goal. A few days after that I hope to complete my main goal.

Weight 175!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

...97, ...98, ...99, ...100!

Day 100

Boston Qualifying Training. One hundred days. Wow, time flies. Day 100 comes on the first of December. Last night I decide that my body needs rest, I made a decision to sleep in and hit the pool at lunch. The sleep feels good. Waking I dress head down stairs.

During the night the Christmas Elves made their appearance. Jack is in the know, but Wil, he is beaming with joy and enthusiasm. Wil knows the Dad can not stand the antics of those mischievous Elves. I fake a big scene about the darn Elves making a mess, Wil laughs even more. Who knows what they’ll do tonight.

Kim and I get the boys off for a day of higher education and I make the trip down one more flight of stairs to my office. The day is busy with work and lunch time comes quickly.

Heading to the gym, I stand on the deck of the pool. I hate the pool. I know I’ve said it before, but swimming is not an area where I find any love. However I do know that it is helping me with my conditioning. With less than two week to go, I only see myself in the pool 2 more times after today.

On the plate for today, 300 warm up, 100 drills, 100 breast; followed by 4 x 200 and 4 x 300 and a 100 cool down. 2600 meters, and it goes by fast. As easy as it would be to skip, I am happy that I made the time to get the workout in and feel better for doing so.

Back home the day is filled with business calls, email and trying to close a few deals. Tomorrow is tempo, 2 EZ, 3 at a 7:14 pace and 1 cool down. Jay and I will hit the greenway at lunch and follow the run with some stretching. I enjoy the running conversation with Jay and we both have challenged one another these past 4 months.

Weight 177, I’d like to stay at this weight between now and race day, though with the decrease in exercise it will likely go up. Need to not worry about it and focus on the next few days knowing that I am race ready.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's That Smell... Childhood

Day 99

Boston Qualifying Training. Track Day! I wake the first time at 2:45 AM and roll over with hours top sleep. I wake the next time and I still have 45 minutes to go. I am like a kid on Christmas Eve, after all it is TRACK DAY. My alarm goes off and I am out of bed in a flash. Dress and ready to go I head downstairs. The Christmas tree smells great, it brings back a hundred memories of growing up as a kid and I smile as I leave the house.

Stepping outside I immediately know I am over dressed. It is warm, like 50 degrees warm. I am happy for the good weather. We certainly paid for this good weather early in the training with more training runs in the rain then I had ever experienced before.

Running from LTF, we talk about our jobs and business, we talk about the T-Day run our friends had, they all had rocking times. Arriving at the track we do our warm up lap and set up our markers.

With the splits written on my hand, I take the first 1K, with the goal of 4:03 and the first 200 meters is targeted at 0:49. I start us off slow, we hit 0:52, followed by a 2 second decrease per 200, we end at 4:00 even, 3 seconds fast. Good. Jay is next, we are fast out of the gate and end with a 3:54, 9 seconds too fast, but reasonable. I hit 4:00 even again and Jay is better on his next one with a 3:57. The last 1K, I am dead on the first lap, 0:49. I drop a second every 200 and on the last 200 we speed it up just for fun. A cool down lap and we are back to LTF. All too easy. A good confidence builder.

Jay and I run into Ann Marie while stretching, she is giddy about her new bike and rightfully so an all carbon fiber bike, she and others hit a 38 mile ride on Saturday, the bike sounds fast and smooth. I think about my steel bike held together with duct tape and think, maybe next season.

She shares the great race everyone had on Thanksgiving, clearly we are all peaking at the right time.

Swim tomorrow will be 2600 meters and done. I will not over do swim these last two weeks. I may hit some easy weights, core and stretching at lunch but nothing insane. This will be more a mental workout than physical.

I am home in time to put Wil on the bus and spend time talking with Jack before he leaves for school. Kim and I share a few moments together before we both head our separate ways for the day. Work will keep me busy. I am happy for such a great family, they have been so supportive of my training. I am a very lucky guy.

Weight, 178. Not bad considering my last meaningful workout was Thursday. I’ll be smart about my food intake and try to keep myself active today.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tall, Lean and Glistening Green - Smells Good Too!

Day 98

Boston Qualifying Training. The days are slipping away with less than two weeks until race day, I focus on my diet and being smart about my training. I have a reasonable breakfast rather than my big 3 egg omelet as I usually do on Sunday morning.

There is not much football talk at Mel’s this morning. Though the Giants beat the Falcons and we joked about that game, the Gmen were beat soundly in Denver and we all know they just do not have the team this year.

Back at home I hear the rake calling me, but it will need to wait. Jack wants to go play football with the neighbors kids and parents. I to want to play also, but I take a chair and my laptop. Today I am a spectator, while also getting some work done.

Jack has a blast and I'd like to jump out there and play, but with three and a half months invested, I will stay a spectator.

Back home, I pull out the rake and leaf blower and go at it. I have several piles built up and decide to take a break and get something to drink. Coming back to the yard, Wil is spying the freshly raked piles. I know what he is thinking. I decide to redirect his energy and hand he and Jack garbage pails. Get to work boys. They do. They are both hard workers and not afraid to work along with dad. While we are taking care of the back yard, Kim is planting tulips bulbs in the front.

Afternoon comes quick and we finish our yard work and head to pick out a Christmas tree. I am an adult, I am supposed to make grown up decisions. But the fact is I am a child when it comes to picking out Christmas trees. I love them, and I like them to be BIG. With 9 foot ceilings, our tree is typically 8 feet 11 inches. I do not think twice to spending $100 bucks on a tree.

Back home I once again find that the tree is too tall. I opt for my second tree stand. It is lower to the ground while still massively sturdy, weighing about 35 pounds. The second stand works and sure enough, 8’11”. This tree is narrow compared to previous trees I have bought, but it has great personality and great fragrance. Kim will spend hours putting on the lights, wrapping each individual branch. We’ll have over 600 – 700 lights on the tree. The main tree will be decorated with special, meaningful ornaments. We have a few trees we’ll put up, but the others will have themed decorations, Kids, Giants, Dalmatians, etc.

With the tree up, chores done, we settle down for an easy evening. A few emails to catch up for work and the winter flag football season. I spend the rest of the day watching football with Kim, Jack and Wil.

At dinner the "Marinich of the Week Award" is handed out to Jack and Wil for all the great help they provided Kim and I this week. They proudly split the days of the week and decide who keeps it in their room first.

Tomorrow starts Week 15. I will watch my diet carefully over the next 12 days and have decided to not make any Christmas cookies or Chex Mix until after December 12th.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

T Minus Two Weeks... Let The Count Down Begin

Day 97

Boston Qualifying Training. The last workout of Week 14, tempo. It is an easy workout as we taper for the race. The run; 1 mile EZ followed by 5 miles at 7:29 pace. I calculate the splits, 1:52, on the quarters and 0:56 on the 200’s.

I run at the track as it is the best way for me to keep pace. I have struggled by going too fast when running alone. By hitting the track I eliminate that possibility. I wake early and head to the August Butler Bulldogs High School. This is the same High School Kim attended, how many years ago..?

When I arrive it is dark and cold, 34 degrees. The track is gated. I see a gap in the fence and surprisingly, I fit through. I warm up though with the cold weather it takes bit longer than usual. After a mile I am ready to go. I set my watch and I’m off. 20 laps, @ 1:52.

The laps go by quickly. I feel good the whole time, though I am running the inside lane on the first 2 miles, I decide to hit lane 3 on the last three miles. I was looking at my times and hitting each quarter too fast based on my calculation. I figured the inside lap was short. I switched to the outside lane and did add a second or two to each lap, but well under my time by 4-5 seconds every quarter.

Back at the house, I see that the inside lap was right on… .25 of a mile. The fact, I was hitting the mile at about 7:09 or better. The thing is it did not feel that bad. I’ll take it.

Back at the in-laws, we all head to Waffle House. I eat well, blueberry waffle, hash browns, and bacon, chased down with a chocolate milk. Yeah me, well deserved.

The remaining day is spent playing football, practicing guitar and helping Kim and her parents with a few chores. Wow am I relaxing.

We head home, but not before we pick up some great pork barbecue for tomorrows dinner. Once home we meet friends for pizza and a beer. We’ll turn in early tonight.

Week 14 is done. Today marks two weeks to go!

The Turkey Was Stuffed... Not Me!

Day 96

Boston Qualifying Training. Well I did not over eat yesterday, but the Giants left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Ugh. The damn Giants. I did not yell or scream… they are just bad. Bad plays make me crazy, bad teams, you just shake your head.

I up wake and drive to Bo Jangles, man I love a spicy chicken biscuit. If we had one of these in Alpharetta I would weigh 200 pounds.

I spend the day with the boys. We hang out play football and do a lot of nothing. I worked on the Mustang trunk lid, it looks better than I thought. I did a pretty good job. I learned a ton from Kim’s dad. He’s painted enough cars that I was able to pull from that experience.

I am looking forward to restoring the Mustang after the Marathon… after I paint our bedroom… after I re-tile the master bedroom shower and floor. One thing at a time, Huntsville first.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Day 95

Boston Qualifying Training. Happy Thanksgiving. This is how great my wife is… She knew I wanted to get this run in with Jay. She knew how important it was for me to have a good run for my confidence. Rather than leaving for Augusta to be with her family last night, we leave today after the run.

I wake up at 5:08 and drop of the bottles for the run. Meeting Jay at the gym, we are off. It is a good run. We hold back and spend the first 9 miles really reserved, we are within a few seconds of the goal time 7:57. Good for us.

The conversation is good and we talk about the plans for Thanksgiving. We also talk about what a great job we have done with this workout schedule. We have now run 407 training miles since we started 14 weeks ago. One more step to building confidence for the race.

By the time we hit mile 12, we have picked it up and gained 45 seconds. We are almost to the end of the 13 miles run, one more mile. Jay decides he wants to show some speed. We end the last mile with a 7:15 mile. We finish 1:24 ahead of our goal time. We both feel good. Pace 7:53.

I step on the scale 176. Yeah baby!

A quick shower and I am home, car packed we hit I-20 east. While driving I talk to all my brothers and sisters. I miss seeing my family and the big Thanksgiving meals we had all together. I talk to each of them for 10 minutes of so. Life goes by too quick. Hanging up from my last sibling, I hear from Corey. Everyone had a great race. Good stuff!

Arriving at Augusta, we enjoy the time with family, throw the football around and generally just do nothing. That is not something I do often, but today, it feels good. I am relaxed. Kim's Dad and I jam on guitars, he's good. Me, I'm learning, but having fun.

Though Thanksgiving is typically reserved for football, there is bad news, their cable is broken and we do not get to watch the first two games. The good news, we will see the Giants game.

Go Giants!

Swim, Weights and Pasta

Day 94

Boston Qualifying Training. I wake up and head to LTF. The boys had been up until 2:30. Not me, though I did not go to bed until 1:00 AM. I do sleep in, well sort of… I wake at 7:00 and I’m off.

On the pool deck I talk to a girl who is in lane 1. She is wearing an iPod shuffle that is water proof. Coooool. I want one of those. Santa are you listening, er... a reading!

Yesterday the guys (and gals) swam about 3,600 meters. I will not be doing all that, though I will get work done. I warm up with 300 meters, followed by 4 x 300 at 6:00 and 4 x 100 at 1:55. I end with an easy 100. Enough I head up stairs to meet Jay. We hit the iron, though lightly, not wanting to do too much this late in the training schedule.

Back home, I am busy and the day flies by. The evening is reserved for football. That’s right, it’s back! Flag football, this is the Winter League. I have a great group of boys on the team. We practice for an hour and I am back home quickly.

The morning will be a 13 mile run at marathon pace. My plan, stuff some pasta in my belly and go to bed. That is exactly what I do. The morning will be here soon.

Short... it's short! No.....!

Day 93

Boston Qualifying Training. Tuesday morning. Typically I would be standing on the pool deck getting ready for a mile plus swim in lane 2. Not today. Today I have a family meeting. I still wake at 5:00 AM, but only because I have to be at meeting southwest of Atlanta at 8:00 AM. I drive early to avoid traffic.

The meeting goes well and I feel good knowing I am taking a good step towards taking greater care of my family.

The day… It is my day off. Back home I take care of chores and by the time the boys are home from school we decide that this would be a good evening to have Jacks sleep over and Laser Tag party. Laser tag is a blast. The boys have a good time, I think I had an even better time. After wearing ourselves out running around in the dark blasting each other, we head home.

Pizza for dinner we head to the game room. It is decided that a Madden 10 tournament is in order. After setting a bracket, the games begin. The battles are fierce, one by one, we watch as one advances and another sits down. Miraculously, I am in the finals, but not just the finals but the number on seed.

The final pits me against a neighbor with a strong set of thumbs and more hours in front of Madden 10 than anyone should consider. It goes into three overtimes. I drive the ball all the way down to the 13 yard line. Against better judgment I kick a field goal rather than trying to get closer. I figure with 13 yards to go, I’m good. I hit the button, full power, perfect, I kick…. And … its… No GOOD!!!! Somehow it falls short, I curse John Madden and call the programmers names that 12 year old boys should not hear. The next series, a tackle is missed and I lose. Not happy.

I go to bed, knowing I want to make up my swim in the morning.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giants Win... Finally

Day 91

Boston Qualifying Training. Will they win… it is desperation time for the Giants. With picks in had, we enter Mel’s for breakfast. Adorning our reserved table are banners and Falcon’s gear.

The workers are rubbing it in… Falcon’s versus Giants today at 1:00. Next week's breakfast will be fun, more so if the Gmen win.

After a few more errands, I drop the family off at home and head to the gym. Plan, swim and lift. The swim is good not great and I only do 1200 meters. Next stop weights… I forgot my sneakers and my shorts! Disappointed, I shower and head to the car.

Sitting in the car, it hits me, I still need my “race shoes”. Off to Dick’s to pick up a new pair. Nothing better than a new pair of running shoes! My old pair had nearly 400 miles on them and they are nearly done. As long as it is dry tomorrow, I will start breaking in the new shoes.

Back home it is emails and work as I watch the Giants. Though they try their very best to lose the game, the manage to hold on and win the game in overtime. I’ll take the victory, but clearly the Giants have issues and even if they manage to make the play-off’s, it would be tough to see them going far. But you never know.

I listen to the winning OT field goal in the car, sitting outside the Roswell Whirlyball center. Jack and his team have their team party. It is a blast, everyone has a good time.

We end the day watching the How the Grinch Stole Christmas… a classic.

Tomorrow starts Week 14, 8 x 800 at 3:12. I am ready. I am a little over weight from the over eating the past few days. Need to be more diligent. Weight 180 !!!!!!

No Where To Go... I'll Take It

Day 90

Boston Qualifying Training. Saturday. Rest. Football is over, no games, no where to be. We wake early in the house and decide to eat breakfast at Waffle House, healthy, no, but the kids love it.

We belly up to the counter, another fun thing for the boys. We laugh and share stories. My wife comments on my recent haircut. I share with her that the girl cutting my hair said there was not much she could do with my hair as there is so little of it to cut. We share a laugh. Proudly I let them know that she also said I had the nicest blue eyes she had ever seen… without hesitation Jack says, “Did she see the rest of your face?” We all burst out laughing. A good quick wit.

We finish off breakfast the remainder of the day is spent with errands, but mostly playing with the boys.

We end the day downstairs watching the new Star Trek movie that came out. Huddled on the couch we just relax. Nice

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bring on Week 14

November 20, 2009

Day 89 Boston Qualifying Training. Week 13 ended this morning at 12:35 AM with the culmination of the last of five 20 mile runs. 89 days ago, I looked at the five 20 mile runs in the schedule and could only think, wow, that is a lot. It was over whelming to look at all at once.

With my failed attempt at Vermont, I wondered, can I do it. Though for Vermont I took a different approach, every run was geared at marathon pace or better and my body was not ready for that kind of pounding so soon. I broke down and only completed three of the five 20 mile runs during that training.

This time, I followed the program, I stayed on pace, sure sometimes a little faster, but within reason. The result, 13 weeks down, I feel healthy and strong. The next few weeks I will watch my diet and work to stay sharp.

As for the run itself, I had been having trouble sleeping the night before the big runs, too much thought about what lay ahead. Morning all to often came too soon, partly the interrupted or restless sleep, partly because we were leaving at 3:45 AM. Yesterday the idea came, to me, why not do it at night, 10:00 PM – 12:45.

The course mapped, I put the proposal in front of Jay. Surprisingly he agreed. The idea of sleeping until 7:00 AM sounded too appealing to pass up.

I made the bottle and GU drops, my idea was mile 8, 13, 17 and on race day, 21 for GU’s the city of Alpharetta was peppered with Gatorade bottles and water for our last 20 mile run.

Meeting at LTF at 9:30, we were off and running at 9:45. The first few miles were a little fast, they always are, and they were a little tough, after all we were running when we would typically be sleeping. Besides, those first few miles are perhaps our most difficult. At about 3.5 miles I still had not found the groove and briefly worried that maybe we should have waited until morning. Too late now. By the time we hit the first water drop, the body was warm and the pace was found. Jay and I locked in a pace and were much like a metronome for the next several miles… a steady cadence as our feet fell in unison.

Looking around I noticed the crowd at 11:00 and 12:00 PM are completely different that what you see at 4:00 AM. At 4:00 in the morning, you see the news papers being delivered, (a finite job that will likely be gone in 5-8 years) the occasional person who leaves for work way too early, the people heading to workout.

At night the it is completely different, when we start, there is still traffic coming off 400, the streets are filled. I am amazed at the number of people that are out. The number does thin as we close in on 11:00 and again the crowd is different, they are likely coming from a bar and it is a very good chance that they have had more than one drink this evening. We take extra precaution as we cross the roads. By 11:45, the only cars we are seeing are patrol cars. The streets are empty and we run down the middle of the road with no concern.

Another big difference is the smell. The smells are different and better! At 4:00 AM, you have the smell of garbage and it is not uncommon to have garbage truck pass you leaving a foul taste in your mouth. Last night we were treated to wood smoked grills, and a number of great smells emanating from the various restaurants.

We pass mile ten and I celebrate that we are half-way through our last 20 mile run. As we run by the theater, the is a crowd waiting for the midnight showing of New Moon. I know my wife and her friends are going today to the 10:00 AM show. She called to say every Mom in Alpharetta was there.

Passing the theater, I steel myself for the next part of the run, it is my least favorite, it is flat, but there is something about it that is not inviting. Mansell Road is only about a mile long, but it is dark and you can not see a thing. The path is narrow and the tall grass whips at your legs making them itch. Clearly I do not like this section. Jay and I muscle through a do our best not to pick up the pace.

Rounding off Mansell, we are back on Haynes Bridge. For the next 3 miles we will climb. The climb ends at the top of “Mount” Westside Parkway part way up we drink, feed and continue, turning the corner the most difficult parts of the 20mile run are done. We are on the home stretch. Up Old Milton Parkway, turning right on Roswell Road, we run past Pure, they are closing for the night. No sign of Ann Marie or the girls having fun on their "girls night out".

We continue with a slight down hill followed by an almost imperceptible uphill. The street is scenic and we run right down the middle of the road. I am almost euphoric as I know we have passed mile 15. Jay though is struggling, GI issues and some fatigue from a busy day that started at 4:30 AM, but he soldiers on. He is tough. He never breaks stride and never losses pace.

I wonder if my exuberance is bothering him, I tend to talk a lot on a run, today I have a lot to say. Jay says he is fine and we keep running. At this point I am ready to run 7 minute miles the rest of the way in, but do not knowing that would be a bad idea. We turn the corner and head down Hwy 9, it too is empty though we are smart enough to stay on the sidewalks. Nearly done. Jay and I discuss a strategy about the finish and which route to take. Once a path is settled we make our last stop for a Gu and sport drink. I try to convince Jay to take a Gel, he passes… GI issues.

Turning down academy it is all down hill 1.8 miles to go. We let gravity take us down the hill. It is effortless. It is my hope to feel this good on race day. The weather tonight was perfect, cool, not cold, a bright starry sky, and no wind. Turning on to Tradewinds, we finish… Done.

The capping of a strong 13 weeks. We have been diligent and it appears to be paying dividends. We won’t really know until for certain until December 12th, but it feels good now. For the next three weeks we will stay the course and sharpen the blade.

As I lay in bed I thank God for family, friends and good health. I have a smile on my face, I know I do not have to wake up at 3:00 AM. My body clock naturally wakes me up at 5:00 AM, but unlike the days before, I am comforted knowing I can roll over, the work is done, and I will have no guilt about sleeping in this morning.

Week 14, bring it on!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

Day 88

Boston Qualifying Training. When the alarm went off this morning my shoulder was killing me, the same shoulder I crunched in football several weeks ago. Immediately came up with 10 reasons to rollover and go back to bed… but there was one over-riding reason to get out, December 12th, race day. Decision made.

The day is closing fast and I am in the fine tuning phase of the program. I change my attitude and off I go to the pool. What has really changed in my life since I was in Middle School (though we called it Junior High than) I would wake up at 5 AM go to morning wrestling workout, followed by a day of work at school, and playing football with my friends in the evening. I have not changed on bit, I wake at 5 AM, go workout, work all day and play football with the boys in the evening. The only thing different is I have a less hair and hopefully I am a bit wiser.

On the pool deck I am hoping for change. I have been miserable in the pool these last two weeks. The workout is a good one, 4 x 500 (300 with fins & paddles, 100 fins, 100 swim). Though I am excited with the workout, I turn in another crappy performance. I am dead last, and 20 meters behind in all but one of the 500’s. The sprints are good not great, the planks are good not great. I walk away discouraged. If this trend continues I will be back in the remedial lane, with my water wings on and the swimming ring with the duck head. I have no idea what is going on, but will continue to push.

Jumping on the scale my weight is 178. Not happy with that either. On the ride home from the gym, I think would I have been better to have just rolled over. Likely not. I know from years of training the most meaningful workouts are often not your best workout. It is when you are struggling and want to quit, when what is easy for others and difficult for you that you are building what it take to perform well.

It is easy when things are going good. But that is not life and certainly not racing. What do you do when things turn to “crap”, when conditions are not optimum, when you are not feeling your best. It is a day like today, that I can pull from, preserve, know that I can make it because I have been there before. An adjustment in attitude and the day is looking better.

Tomorrow I have my last 20 mile run. It will be the end of Week 13. The pace will be 8:15. The goal is to hit the first 14 miles at 8:15 and next drop it down to 8:10 with the last two being at 8:05 (maybe). Tonight I will drop Gel’s, Gatorade and Water. Dinner my usual, a big bowl of pasta. Bed will be early.

Wil is home sick today, you could see it coming last night, off to the doctors.