Monday, October 30, 2006

Dueling Titles:
(a) The elusive 4:00:00
(b) You’ll take what the race gives you and be happy, dammit!

Sunday dawned a picture perfect gorgeous sunny breezy 41F day. Then I got up. :)

Good Lord, where do I start this tale, and what do I leave out? Let’s start with timing. For someone who's normally on time, I was late to the RBF dinner on Friday, I was late to the Expo on Saturday, and was late to the race on Sunday. Trifecta! Due to user error with setting the clock back, yes, back, I was strolling out my hotel at 6:19 am when Jeanne and David called me from the starting area.

Jeanne: Rich? Uh, where are you?
Me: I’m leaving my hotel
Jeanne: It’s 7:20
Me: No it’s not, it’s 6:20
Jeanne: No, it’s 7:20
(repeat 3 times)
Jeanne: OK, let David tell you
David: It’s 7:20
Me: No it’s not, it’s 6:20
(repeat another 3 times)
Me: Oh !@%^$#(&@#!

The next hour was a blur. My start time was 8:25. I took the Metro, changing trains once. Each stop along the way was agonizingly slow, as it waited forever for more and more people to get on. By the time we pulled into Arlington Cemetery at 8:00, the train was packed. That wasn’t the problem. Every square inch of the platform was packed with people from the previous train, still waiting to go down the escalator! After much ruckus, I made it through. On the way out of the station, I inhaled my first GU.

I emerged onto a small hill overlooking the start area. As far as the eye could see below, the corrals were already full and snaking their way into the distance. The PA was counting down the minutes. My heart was about to burst. I still had to find the UPS trucks to drop off my stuff, which someone said was clear across at the back, next to the Pentagon. Argh!!! I started rushing down the side of the corrals, wondering how I was going to make it. I passed the 1000’s, then the 2000’s and on and on until mine at the 9000’s. I found a guy holding two bags, obviously someone’s support crew, and asked if he wouldn’t mind dropping mine off for me. Oo-rah. Through the kindness of strangers, I made it by the skin of my teeth.

After all that, the start was delayed about 10 mins, but what a great start it was. It’s a beautiful course, very scenic, and the crowds are truly unbelievable. The first 4 or 5 miles were a complete runners high. We left Arlington and crossed into DC, going up Rock Creek Parkway. We ran in what looked like a nature trail area, tree covered and woodsy. I was beside myself, having passed the 4:00 pace group, and never looking back. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, I caught sight of Bex coming back the other way, about a ½ a mile ahead of me and past the turnaround. She yelled out to me and I yelled back, and that was about all we could do!

From Rock Creek, we spilled onto the Mall at the Washington Monument and Constitution Avenue somewhere around mile 9 or 10. The crowds continued to be awesome, and I high-fived my way down the mall. At one point, there were a bunch of high schoolers all dressed in orange, I must have high-fived 20 of them in a row, yelling at the top of my lungs while they all yelled back. Kids have unlimited energy. That really kept me going.

We ran down the length of the Mall, looped around the Capitol, came back down the other side, and then spilled onto the Tidal Basin around mile 14 or so. A couple more miles, and we entered dreaded Haines Point. Less crowds, more wind. Time to dig in. From mile 16 to 20, it was soul searching time, or so I thought.

I was still on pace to break 4:00, and I pushed myself to make it on pace to mile 20. I almost made it. Close to mile 20, the cramps started, slowly at first, then building. Both calves, right quad. I've never had these before, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried drinking everything in sight. I stopped and walked it out. I ran though it until I couldn’t keep my balance anymore. And then I stopped and walked some more. It was a lonely battle with myself, but I wasn’t alone.

Right past mile 20, the 4:00 pace team caught up with me. I hung with them for about a ¼ mile, and then they faded off into the distance. Damn, I wish I never let them go. From mile 20 – 25, I shuffled, I stumbled, I hobbled, I skipped, I walked, I ambled, I moved every which way but run like the wind. Put a costume on me and I would’ve made a knock out Frankenstein with the way I ran. I was beginning to worry about not making it in, but I was going to be damned if I allowed myself to give up in the middle of the road. All around me were casualties of the same cramps, literally left and right, every few feet. It was weird. Some were literally on their backs on the ground. Most were in various stages of doubling over.

On one of my stops to stretch out, around mile 23, Bex called me from the other side of the street. Once again, she had passed the turnaround and was headed back. I noted that she was on pace to break 4:00, when I saw the 4:00 pace team pass by behind her. I continued this way until I mercifully reached mile 25. Another kind soul had given me a large bottle of water, from which I had been drinking copious amounts every time I had to stop to shake the cramps. I also took every Gatorade offered to me between water stations, again from strangers along the way. At mile 25, I ditched the water bottle and vowed to press on and not stop until the end, no matter what.

It took forever to reach mile 26. Well, 10:55 actually. The others can tell you about a killer short hill past mile 26. Did I mention a killer short hill? I made it up, slowly, but I never stopped. And then suddenly, it was over.

Mile 2 - 19:23
Mile 3 - 9:18
Mile 4 - 8:49
Mile 5 - 8:47
Mile 6 - 8:53
Mile 7 - 8:58
Mile 8 - 8:43
Mile 9 - 8:47
Mile 10 - 8:50
Mile 11 - 8:27 (oo-rah! high-fivin' down Constitution Ave.)
Mile 12 - 8:52
Mile 13 - 9:13
Mile 14 - 9:09
Mile 15 - 9:40
Mile 16 - 9:19
Mile 17 - 9:19
Mile 18 - 9:26
Mile 19 - 9:14
Mile 20 - 10:01 (bye bye 4:00 pace team)
Mile 21 - 11:13 (ouch)
Mile 22 - 12:45 (ouch)
Mile 23 - 12:27 (ouch)
Mile 24 - 11:41 (ouch)
Mile 25 - 11:24 (ouch)
Mile 26 - 10:55 (ouch)
Mile 26.2 - 2:33


A PR over my first marathon at 4:25. Sigh.

A long time later, after I had pushed through the finisher’s corral, taken the race photo, squeezed through an incredibly small food tent, squeezed through another bridge packed up people to get to the other side where the UPS trucks were parked, I finally stopped. I met my wife’s cousin, Candace, who works in D.C. I met up with (a fast) Bex and her husband E., and just as we were leaving, we found David and Michelle.

We compared notes for a while, and then it was time to go. Bex and I were already planning our next marathon. I’ll let her tell you what she wants to qualify for, and I still want to break 4:00. All in all, despite it all, I had a great time, met up with some awesome RBFs, had some good food and even better company. Oo-rah!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I made it to D.C. A little late, a missed flight, D.C. traffic, rain, but I made it. With 3 minutes to go before our dinner reservation, I was still sitting in traffic on the way to my hotel, with Bex's phone number in the trunk. I called her later to tell her I'd be late, and eventually caught up with them just as everyone was finishing up their appetizer.

It was absolutely incredibly gastronomicaly fun to get together with all the other runners :) I got to meet
Susie and her David, the other David from Florida, Jeanne who's going to PR tomorrow for sure, Peter who will be running NYC next weekend, Hallie who ran the Army 10-miler recently, and of course the gracious host Bex! I left my camera cable at home, so I'll have to post them later.

I went for my last training "run" this morning, leaving the Hilton Embassy Row off Dupont Circle. I ran south a mile which took me to the White House, which had a few tourists mingling about. Turned around and ran back. 2 miles even. That's my kinda run! Yeah!

Back at my hotel, I headed up to the lounge they have for frequent guests, hoping to get maybe some water and a banana. Surprise! Scrambled eggs, potatoes, croissants. Just give me some protein and carbs! I loaded up, I'm stuffed, and I'm headed to the Expo to meet up with David. Just got a call from Bex and we'll join her for lunch later. The sun's out. I'm so ready for tomorrow!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Getting Closer

It finally arrived. My last long run, of only 8 miles, was completed today. I started late, at 4:45 pm, but it was a rare perfect fall afternoon for Dallas. You've all probably had these days, the sky couldn't be blue-er, the sun couldn't be shinier, the air couldn't be crisper, and the wind couldn't be cooler and more refreshing. We just don't get that many of them here.

Now if I can only hang on until next Sunday, I'll be at the starting line for MCM. By then, I'd have logged 524 miles of training over the past 18 weeks, easily a few hundred miles than I would've, had I not signed up for a marathon.

In the meantime, our baby turns 5 tomorrow (sob sob!). We took her and a few of her fellow princesses to Libby Lu's at Stonebriar Mall yesterday. If you have a little princess, this is apparently the place to be. Their birthday "makeover" party came with princess gowns for everyone, hair styling, make-up and nail polish (not quite a full manicure!). This is the girl who scored a hat-trick two weekends ago and put in two more goals earlier in the day against a boys team!

My baby's growing up, I ate too much cake, but otherwise everything's good.

Happy Birthday Sydney :)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hello Old Friend

I flew into NYC tonight. It's been almost 4 months since I've been here, and I've missed the city. I got to my hotel room at 10:00 pm, and by 10:05 pm I was changed and out the door. A quick warm up in the lobby, and I was off.

From Lex and 51st, I just ran. The air had a bit of a chill in it. The streets were packed with traffic. NYPD had blocked off a section of Lex from the Doubletree to the W, and cars were backed up and honking like no tomorrow. Only in NYC. The sidewalks were full or people, but not crowded. I easily weaved in and out, and ran wherever the streets would take me, crossing whichever intersection gave me a green light.

I ran in the general direction of Central Park, but I had no plans to go in. I wasn't sure if it was still dangerous to run there at night, but when I got there, I noticed the park inside was deserted. I ran west along the perimeter of the park on 59th, passing upscale hotels with their beautiful people milling around outside. I caught the familiar but not-so-welcome whiff of the horse carriages lined up waiting for tourists. Even at night, in the midst of NYC hustle and bustle, I felt relaxed.

I made a long, slow loop from Columbus Circle to Hell's Kitchen to Times Square to Grand Central Station and back to Lexington, about 6 miles total. I've got a meeting downtown tomorrow, then a flight back to Dallas in the afternoon. I just had to see the city my way tonight while I could, and I'm glad I did.