Monday, May 16, 2011

5K weekend

Since I hurt myself at Disney I haven’t been able to run 2 days in a row.  Trying to take it easy and give myself time to recover in between runs.  But last weekend there were 2 back to back races for 2 good causes.  And since they were only 5K’s I figured I’d give it a shot.  Plus, there’s also the fact that 1)  I’ve been feeling like I haven’t been pushing hard enough in my runs the last few months, like I haven’t really wanted to move into the pain of pushing.  Plus 2)  I just wanted to see how my knee was going to be.  So I signed up for both the Ourboys 5K (for Batten’s Disease) and the Falafel 5K (for Jewish Family Services-got to support my boys)

Our Boys 5K
In the list of horrible, brutal diseases, Battens’ Disease has to rank pretty high up there.  The disease affects children, not when they are born, but at some point a few years down the road.  The disease leads to blindness, dementia, a variety of other problems and is generally fatal.  I can honestly say that before about 2 weeks ago I had never even heard of it.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten quite an education.  Fellow DART-er Jeff McGonnell was serving as race director for the race, and word spread through the DART blog page ( about this great cause, so I decided to head out there.  Luckily, Julia had a sleepover the night before, so both Jo and I got to go.  

Jo ready to go
Race Director Jeff McGonnell ready

Tim Richter ready to run, and Dave Munger ready to keep me from dying of hydration at mile 2

Chad Randolph ready to rock

We stopped by Chad Randolph’s house to pick him up and then headed out to Concord.  The race took place at a school in the middle of a residential area, with the actual course starting and ending at the school and winding it’s way through the residential area.  At the start we met up with DART-ers Tim Richter who was also running, and Dave Munger and David Moore who were volunteering.  Nice turn out for DART.   As I said, I felt that I hadn’t been pushing hard enough recently, so I decided to go a bit harder.  After a nice and emotional sendoff from Chris Hawkins, whos’ sons both have Batten’s disease, we were off.  The only flaw in my strategy of going fast, was that I forgot that I’d be running with Jo, so we did wind up talking (at least I did, no surprise there) quite a bit, so I was a bit winded.  I’ve also noticed recently that with both running and biking it definitely takes a little bit of time for me to warm up.  I probably should’ve spent a little more time doing that, but you do what you can.  After the first mile, there was water, but I decided it was too early and I skipped it.  We made it through the first mile in 9:06, which isn’t necessarily fast, but considering how little I had been able to do since the marathon, it was great.  The second mile was a little slower at 9:23, as it felt a little hillier and I started getting thirst.  I kept looking at my garmin to see how soon the 2 mile mark was and hoping there would be water, since I was really thirsty.  We got to the 2 mile mark and thankfully Dave was there with water.  It felt awesome.  With that, we headed back towards the school, and it seemed a bit more downhill, and did the third mile in 8:58, my first sub 9:00 mile of 2011.  We put on a little kick at the end and ended in 27:58.  While Jo seemed to be barely making any effort (probably a heck of a lot easier than the marathon she had just done the week before), I was a bit tired.  But it was good.  Got to cool off, and then see Tim get his 3rd overall and Chad get his 9th overall.   A fun time.

Time and pace for ourboys 5k

Tim, Chad, and Jeff comparing notes

To keep awareness up and to raise money Jeff will be doing the “24 hours of loopy” in Davidson from Saturday June, 4th at 11 and ending 24 hours later.  Jeff will be running around the green in Davidson for 24 hours.  Please come out and support him in any way you can.  The website for this event is   A great cause, and Jeff could certainly use some support during the long night hours.

Falafel 5K
Once I heard that there was also a 5K on Sunday at our temple, I started to think about doubling up.  After feeling pretty good Saturday, I decided to get up early and head down to Charlotte.  Even though it was mothers day, Julia had a dance competition out in Concord, so she and Jo had to be up and out early anyways.  I figured that a Sunday race in Charlotte on Mothers day might not have a lot of turnout, and I thought I should go support my people, plus it was for Jewish Family Services, another good cause.  After getting there early, as usual, I signed up and got my shirt and number. 

Packet pick up

The shirt was interesting as it had more info than I’ve ever seen on a race shirt before, including the start time and address.  

DART shirt ready

The race would start from behind Temple Israel, head out on Providence and then wind it’s way through some of the developments behind the community, before coming back into shalom park and ending in front of the peace/butterfly statue.  Again, I wanted to try and go a bit harder today.  The race started off immediately heading up a hill, so I was winded from the start.  But right after that it was a nice long downhill.  I tried to go with the “falling downhill” method of running, and saving up some energy.  My overall goal was to try and come in around the same time as Saturday, if not a little faster.  The courses were definitely different. While ourboys had hills that weren’t that steep, but were long stretches of uphill, the falafel had more sharp ups and downs.  I made it through the first mile in 9:01 which wasn’t bad.  Though to avoid my dehydration like Saturday, I decided to drink at the 1 mile mark.  The only problem was there was no water to be had!  Once I got to the 1.5 mile mark, there was finally water.  There was only one water stop on the course, and it was right after a bit of an uphill.  I made it through the second mile in 8:58, which made me feel like I could beat the day before’s time.  The third mile had a pretty big downhill on Providence, but then a pretty big uphill back into Shalom park.  I felt winded even on the downhill.  So the uphill was even tougher.  I was moving along, but had to take a 5 second breather to start breathing again before turning into the temple.  This is where my only complaint about the course happened.  In addition to the 5K there was a fun run which started after the 5K.  They sent both run’s out in opposite directions, but both came back in the same way as well.  So the last .4 mile both groups were on the same course.  So coming back in I had to weave to avoid a bunch of young kids.  A bit tough.  At that point I was moving, but really running out of gas.  Somewhere between the 3 mile mark and the finish at 3.1, a woman came flying by me.  Normally, I’d try to chase her down, but this time I had nothing.  I could only watch her go by.  I did the third mile in 8:40, and wound up crossing the line in 27:19 a 30 second improvement over the previous day.  

No caption needed

Peace sculpture near the finish line

Falafel 5K pace/elevation

While I wished I was faster, I was pretty happy with that result.

I hung around for a few minutes to see other people finish and cheer them on.  They even did indeed have Falafel, but I (barely) avoided it, since I know how fattening it is.  

Overall, I was pretty pleased with my weekend of running.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rock and Roll, er, Country Music

I know I haven’t written since Disney, and I was going to talk about where I’ve been and what’s coming up (Savannah Marathon, Disney Goofy Challenge), but Jo just did a marathon this weekend so I figured a write up is a good way to jump back into it.

After Disney Johane and I were going to do a marathon together for our anniversary. Of course I messed up my IT band, so things didn't look good. Myrtle Beach came and went. So did shamrock. So finally Jo decided to sign up for the country music marathon.  

Yes, Tennessee is definitely the South

I spent a lot of time going back and forth on whether or not I was going to do the 1/2.  I debated even up until the expo. I knew I really wasn't ready and I might've messed up my knee, and I've got 2 other marathons to do this year, including the goofy challenge, which will be crazy, but just being there at the expo was driving me crazy. Plus the medals were awesome. The $145 price tag for the 1/2 pretty much killed it for me. That's crazy. So we went back to our original plan, I'd try to jump in with Jo at mile 20 and do the last 6 with her.

We hit the expo on Friday and it was pretty large as far as expo’s go.  We took the opportunity to sign up for the Savannah marathon, even though I’ve got some misgivings about the course. 

Jo at the expo

Nissan brought the new Leaf with them - I want one

Someone pee'd on the seat in the fitting room!

After the expo we headed back to our hotel to check in and get Johane some dinner.  Since it was the night before a marathon she wanted pasta.  No problem, I typed “Italian” into the GPS, found a rainforest cafĂ© and a Macaroni grill and we were off.  We drove a couple of miles away to the Opry Mills Mall, the mall that was built on the site where Opryland used to be.  The first sign of trouble was as we pulled around the corner and saw no cars in the parking lot, zero, nada, nil, none.  Hmmmm.  Then we saw the fence.  What the?  I’ve never seen an entire mall closed with a fence around it before.  I found out later that the river next to the mall had overflowed during the Tennessee floods in May 2010, and the entire place was shut down.  But we were stuck.  Luckily, we went back to the hotel, and they were able to direct us to a couple of nearby places.  The only place without a huge line was a mediocre Friday’s (are any of them NOT mediocre?), and we were good.  Back to the room to attempt to sleep.

We woke up at 4 the next morning so that I could drive Jo to the bus at a nearby hotel.  A lot of the roads were closed so I didn’t think I’d be able to get her to the start, plus the round trip bus ticket had we covered in case we didn’t meet at the end, since it was supposed to be a really crowded marathon.  (more on that soon)

Marathon starting line, conveniently located next to a funeral home

After dropping her off, I of course couldn’t get back to sleep, so I sat at the hotel, read, showered, and put my running gear on.  I had been told that the parking lot at LP stadium where the Titans play would be full, and I’d have to wind my way around certain highways to get to downtown, and then walk back to the finish line, and then find my way to the 20 mile mark.  I figured that whole operation would take a while so I wanted to head in early.  Also, it was about 45 degrees at this point with expected cloudy skies and temps not about 62 until the afternoon.  Perfect running weather.

I used the instructions that they gave us to head downtown, and wound up getting off the highway at…the stadium.  I figured I’d give it a shot and was told the lot was full.  I begged the guardwoman to let me at least go in and look and she gave me the go ahead.  I found a spot 10 feet from the entrance.  

Finish line at LP stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans "A team in disarray"

Organizing the finisher medals
At 7Am and 52 degrees I was wondering what all the towels at the finish line were for.  At 9AM and 78 degrees, I stopped wondering.

Sweet, though at this point I was hours early.  So I wandered over to the finish line for a while, checked out the medals, was there in time to see the ½ marathon finisher come across the line, and then go back to the car and hang out and read for a bit.  Around this point, I started getting hot and noticed the temp at 9 was higher than they said it would be all day.  Not a good sign.  I was getting texts with Jo’s times across the 5K, 10K, 10 mile and half marathon mark, and she was on target to be around a BQ time of 4 hours.  Her average time was decreasing at every checkpoint.  Once she hit the halfway point, I started off for the 20 mile mark.  I had a map to guide me and got to where I thought the road was, but then got confused.  There was no one there, and I mean no one.  Granted the road seemed to be in what I’ll nicely describe as “not the nicest” area, but still, where was everyone.  Then I saw a runner go by.  I stopped someone (a spectator, not a runner) and asked if this was the right place and where the 20 mile mark was.  I was told just up the road a bit.  So I headed for the 20 mile mark and stopped right there.  At the 20 mile mark there was one other family waiting.  And that was all there was.  
The standing-room-only crowd at the 20 mile mark

3 minutes before a guy passed out in from of me

Considering how large the field was, I was shocked at how small the crowd was.  I wound up talking to a cop who told me you can never tell.  Some years the road is 10 deep with spectators, some years it’s empty.  We got to talking, and he was telling me how the Nashville course is a lot harder than people think.  He told me the hills are worse and as we could both tell it was pretty hot.  Almost as soon as he said that we watched a guy stumble across the 20 mile mark and go to his knees.  I confess, that I thought maybe he was tired and taking a break.  Until he tried to stand up.  His legs went in opposite directions like he had no control, and his eyes rolled back in his head, and he started to go down.  Hard.  Luckily the dad from the family next to me was already on his feet, and he made it there just barely to prevent this guy from smacking his head on the ground.  The guy was out.  I tried to talk to him, and got nothing that sounded like a comprehensible sentence.  The cop called an ambulance.  But we sat there.  He wasn’t sweating at all, which I was pretty sure was dehydration, having hit it myself at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2000.  We gave him some water (when he was lucid), poured water on him, put water on his shirt and put it on his head.  He came around a little bit and I asked him how much water he had.  His answer was none.  Not a good plan.  I looked at his attire and decided he wasn’t a seasoned marathoner at all.  Basketball shorts, a cotton t-shirt and shoes that could only loosely be described as running shoes.  On the other hand, he was at the 20 mile mark in about 2:28.  Not a bad pace.  But he was definitely burned out.  All this time I was expecting Jo to come by.  We got him more water, shaded him from the sun, tried to check his vitals, and keep him awake and semi-lucid.  After about 15 minutes the ambulance finally came.  I seemed like hours later.  They finally got him loaded up and headed for the hospital.  That was a relief.  He really looked pretty bad.  Around this time, Jo called me and said she was at 18 and hurting.  I was really surprised since she was kicking it through 13.  She said the hills were making her calves hurt and the heat was baking.  Anyways, I waited and then she got to 20.  I started running with her, and the next couple of miles were an unintentional use of the Galloway system (walk/run/walk/run).  As we got to around mile 23 we entered a park.  There was a medical tent, with LOTS of people laying on the ground with bags of ice on them.  A lot of dehydration going around.  As we made our way around the small lake and up a slight hill we saw a man lying face down on the side of the road.  Just face down, half on and half off the road.  He was out of it, and everyone was just going right on by.  Jo and I and 2 other women stopped to try and take care of him.  I sacrificed my water bottles, Johane got his head off the ground, and the other women picked up his feet.  I tried to call 911, and was met with 101 unanswerable questions.  Unfortunately we were in the middle of a park, and no one seemed to know where.  After going back and forth with the dispatcher for 10 minutes, a photographer on a bike came by and we sent him off to find medical help.  10 more long minutes went by with until finally someone showed up.  They got him ice and more water, and he seemed to be reviving a bit.  We were back on our way.  At this point I was getting hot, so I broke my rule of not taking water from the race.  I figured since I had given mine up for a good cause I could get some more.

The last few miles ticked along slowly.  I felt by the end like I had run a marathon.  At mile 25 they were handing out salt packets.  I’ve never seen that before.  As we approached the finish line I split off and went around to the spectator side, since I didn’t want to cross the line.  I got to see Jo cross the line (from a distance), and then get sheparded off through the extremely long finish corral.  After that there were a few frantic minutes with Jo and I calling each other and trying to figure out where each other was, only to realize that somehow we wound up on opposite ends of the stadium.  Got Jo back to the car, and got her the post race Smoothie King she was dying for.  Overall she finished in 4:48.  Considering the hills, heat, and 20 minute stop to help someone, I guess it was ok.  She told me after that she had 2 goals.  The first was 5 hours which she easily beat.  The second was 4 hours, which she was heading towards, but just got hot, tired and sore.  Overall, I think it’s pretty good considering all that.  Better than any marathon I’ve ever done!

She's done
Finishers Medal

After back to the hotel for a nap, and then honky-tonking in Nashville.

Jo's reward - a cowboy hat
Thank you, Thank you very much