Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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.
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
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... http://www.active.com/running/alpharetta-ga/jog-for-a-cause-5k10k-2010 It will be the first race of 2010.
Another great day.
Weight 182. Need to do better.
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.
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!
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.
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.
It is starting to look good. I am finding my groove.
I meet Jay at lunch and get a decent swim in.
I will start working on the paining tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 22, 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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.
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.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
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.