2017 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

I ran in 2016. I didn’t recap it. I regretted not doing a recap as I began to share my other Memorial Marathon recaps this past week. So without delay, I wanted to get my 2017 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon race day recap up and going before I would forget about it.

I signed up for the marathon in December before the price jump and I was eager to begin training. I wanted to still hold my training runs in Nichols Hills. Those kicked off in December and I was excited. In January, I hurt my heel playing basketball one morning at the YMCA. This is the same thing that happened to me in 2015: self-diagnosed plantar fasciitis. I couldn’t do much for 6 weeks and I didn’t run at all. This was tough and delayed my training. I was able to get going again in March, but didn’t really have a training plan other than run. I squeezed in a 10 mile run in the beginning of April just to see if I was able to get in double digit miles and that run went surprisingly well. I decided to stick with it and planned to run the full marathon still. I had a goal, which has always been anything under 4 I was fine with, but I wanted to shoot for 3:45.

Saturday was spent hydrating and fueling. I woke up early as I always do¬†and watched the rain and coverage from the overnight storms. We had a few branches down in the back yard but nothing noteworthy really. I drove down to CrossFit 405 to chat it up with Joey, only to find out that the gym was without power and there was so much damage along the marathon course. Trees everywhere were down and across the road, waterlines were broken, power poles were split. It was impressive. The rest of the day, I drank a lot of water and we watched an Oklahoma City documentary that I hadn’t seen before. It was on Netflix and titled, “Oklahoma City.” Pretty relevant still today and especially with today’s political environment. We met my friend Dayton at Flips for dinner where I had a spaghetti and meatballs and a drink and then we all headed back to the house. I was able to get in bed around 9:15.

After I really solid night of sleep and with my alarm going off at 4 (didn’t hear it) and me finally getting up in a panic at 4:15, I popped up and the hopeful coffee induced countdown was on…. I went ahead and drove down to open the gym, to stretch and roll out and to use the bathroom as I have in the past. I’ve found it helpful just to be not at home prior to marathons, not sure why. The power was still out from the previous day’s storm so no hanging out, just a bunch of sitting in a car. Me, Katie from work, Dayton and Megan all hung out in the car with Bowers, Keaster and their friend arriving a little later. We then heading down to our normal parking spot off Broadway and sat some more before making our way to the start.

18194623_10211522844561274_4006314093569788404_n

Weather was breezy, but nothing terribly cold I didn’t think. I had on a sweatshirt and sweatpants(there is a story here….) that I planned to strip off before the start so I was comfortable. I left Dayton and Megan and went to my corral. I was able to make it in time to take my Clif Shot, the 168 seconds of silence, National Anthem and with plenty of time to watch many begin to freak out. And with that, we were off for the 17th Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, my 6th OKC run and 9th marathon total (10th of the marathon distance).

  • The start is always great. It was breezy and was spitting rain a little bit. Perfect temperature for running, just the wind and rain made it almost terrible.
  • The first mile is always congested. You don’t get to look up at any of the buildings as you’re looking in front of you and at your feet. I saw one person slip on the white paint of a crosswalk, so I figured I’d take it easy. Hey, look. Kyle, a former coworker!
  • We ran up the bridge in Bricktown connecting Deep Deuce and I needed to go to the restroom as I always do there. I held off.
  • Lincoln was noticeably different this year. The crowds were very thin with the weather the way it was.
  • Saw Karlis at the turn past the capitol. It was here that I began to take a Powerade and a water I every stop. Something I’ve discovered that helps me a great deal if I start at mile 4.
  • The damage from the previous day’s storms were crazy. Fences were down or just gone like a tornado had taken them.
  • Turning north on Robinson is always one of the prettier parts of the route. It was memorable again but only because the amount of trees that had to be removed from street.
  • Edgemere was great again. The martini man was dressed up in a Cubs suit still celebrating.
  • Running up Gorilla Hill (the street I ran the most during my training), I saw Ian, ARobb and Jason Parks. The bananas formed a tunnel to run through, which I liked quite a bit.
  • The turn. This is where the half and the full marathoners split. The route gets lonely and reality begins as you still have 18 more miles to run.
  • I stop for my one and only bathroom break at the CHK campus. It’s less crowded than any of the ones before and I knew that, so I was in and out.
  • Classen, heading north, seems to be pretty easy this year. Not sure why. I see Will come out of the relay exchange but he was too far ahead of me to say hello.
  • Running through The Village, my hands begin to get really cold. I pull my sleeves over them to try to keep them warm. It doesn’t seem to work as well as I want it to.
  • Heading west on Britton, I tuck in behind a guy who is pushing his son as part of the marathon. I’m not above drafting and so I do that for a bit.
  • HALFWAY! I’m feeling fine. Nothing too crazy just yet. The wind out of the west was chilly and we were about to turn south. Luckily the wind wasn’t directly out of the southwest at this time………..
  • Hefner Lake is my second least favorite spot on the course. It’s ALWAYS windy and today there were puddles everywhere, one of which we had to run through in the grass to get to the other side of the pathway.
  • My miles are still not terrible, but I’m slowly fading. No cramps yet, I was just ready to be out of the wind. We head back east on Grand Blvd. so I was looking forward to that break.
  • Andrew¬†catches up to me and we chat about our goals for the day.
  • I see Ben, another former coworker.
  • Running down Grand is great because I know this portion of the route very well. It was with the wind at our back right now so it was smooth sailing.
  • Mile 19 passes and as I reach for the Powerade during this mile, my right hamstring cramps. I have almost 7 more miles to go. I’m ok with this mentally because it’s happened before. I stop. Stretch. Take a few painful steps and then it goes away. It’s those first 5 steps that are the absolute worst.
  • I pass the relay exchange point and see several folks I know. That spot is always fun because the relays are a little more spread out and you’re able to search to see if you know anyone there.
  • Hey, Classen. Idiot. This is where you get to countdown the blocks beginning at NW Expressway, 50th St. You turn off Classen at 18th St. The math is with you for a good 45 minutes. The 3:45 pace group passes me close to 40th St.
  • I see Cole, Amanda, Chloe and Kylo at 38th St. as my miles are really slowing at this point. The wind is directly in your face and it’s beginning to spit again making Classen just as miserable as it always is.
  • Finally turn off Classen after passing the Oklahoma Standard Stretch which was something new this year and it did not live up to the hype that the marathon organizers announced and announced that it would be.
  • I’m slow right now. Running through Mesta Park, folks were finally making their way out onto the course. I’m hurting but I know I can make it. I see Doug from the gym and and heading back north one last time before turning on 19th St.
  • There is Emily and Trent and their kids. I see them every year and every year I cramp here. I pass them and nothing. Then 100m down the road, CRAMP. My right quad and my right hamstring. Can’t stretch my quad out without my hamstring cramping more and can’t stretch my hamstring without my quad cramping more. I stand there for what seems to be like 2 minutes. I have one more mile to go and I see the 3:50 pacer pass me.
  • I finally get going and I begin to pick it up. I can tell I’m moving much faster and I’m keeping up with that 3:50 pace group. I change the screens of my watch for the first time to see elapsed time. It’s close. Maybe 3:50 is doable. I continue at that pace.
  • The turn on Broadway is surreal always. People begin cheering loudly as you approach them. I see Ron and Liv from the gym. Broadway seems like it’s forever long and you have no choice but to keep going because you can see the finish. I see it… I’m also cramping. My right quad and now my left quad is on fire. I continue on however.
  • I cross the finish line and I stop immediately unable to take any more steps because of the knot in my left quad. I stand for a few minutes before making it over to the finisher shirt pick up where I didn’t get mine last year. I made sure to get it this year but while doing so, I didn’t get a finisher’s photo. I’ll get both the next time, I suppose.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.27.10 PM

I have learned from past experiences that though the marathon is physically challenging, it’s almost, if not more, mentally challenging than physical. I didn’t train as well as I wanted to and probably should have but I knew I could do it. I know what happens when you cramp and how to push through that. I know what happens when you have 6 more miles of a stupid race. I know what happens when things don’t go as you want them to. It’s through all that that your race is won. Pushing through those mishaps or mistakes knowing that you’ll be able to cross the finish line as long as you keep going. I was happy to have finished this race. I was happy to meet up with Dayton and Megan back at the house to celebrate. They ran the half marathon doing all the fun stops along the way: donuts, shots, beers more donuts. I think I’ll do that next year.

2015 OKC Memorial Marathon Recap

I ran 26.2 miles for the 8th time on Sunday, April 27, 2015. This was my 7th full marathon race, 8th of the marathon distance and 4th Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I’d say I will remember this one more than any of the others, but I think that’s a lie because I remember them all apart from my Chicago Marathon, two-thirds of which I can’t recall. This year’s OKC Marathon was completely different for me in many ways.

I signed up for this run in December. I was smart about it, getting in before the price jump… so I thought. I ran with my group at Koda CrossFit the month of January. Then on February 4th, I was playing against a group of college kids at the Colvin Center at Oklahoma State in a 5-on-5 pick-up basketball game. Unbeknownst to me, it was game 7 of the NBA Championship and I was fouled into the wall during a layup and somehow hurt my heel pretty bad. I wasn’t able to put pressure on it for a few days and running was out of the question for a good month. I began to wonder if I was going to run it at all. I started to pick my runs up a little in the middle of March and made a few of the April runs, none of which were greater than the 10k distance. I decided in April that I’d at least try the run. If all else failed, I had multiple turn off points throughout the course where a mimosa would be waiting for me if I needed to call it quits.

The morning of, I woke up after a great night’s sleep at 3:45. Had my bagel, my cup of coffee and headed to Koda to gather some folks before heading down to the start. It’s always easier to wake up and be excited for a race when there is a group around feeding off that excitement… and bathrooms that aren’t port-a-potties. At 5:35, we headed downtown to make the start. With Koda having a good relationship with SandRidge Energy and me having coached there for over a year, I made my way to the fitness center with Andi and her husband. We got to enjoy one last little bathroom trip and talk with a few more friends before needing to be at the start. The start was way crazier than I remember because last year, the race had been delayed for two hours so the barricades weren’t up or something because this time around, I had to climb through a fence in order to just be on the course. I missed the 168 seconds of silence trying to make my way through the crowd as well as the National Anthem and all of sudden, boom, we’re off.

  • Start – It’s always a great feeling to blast off at the beginning. The crowd pumps you up and we’re running through the streets of a usually busy downtown area. It’s a great time and I always have a smile on my face. It’s tough to weave through the crowd but you have to as there are usually walkers or firefighters or folks in the wrong corral ahead of you. Heck, I may have been in the wrong corral this year.
  • Mile 1 – My pace is actually right where it needs to be. 8:40 or so. I knew this year that I’d go out slower and finish even slower than normal (read: previous pace) because of my lack of preparation. I took that into account. Plus, I didn’t have my GPS watch because it was stolen a few weeks prior. That also helped me not pay attention to my clock and just run.
  • Need to find a bathroom. It always happens at mile 2 for some reason. Always. I hold off.
  • It was warming up quick. I was feeling fine. We’re heading towards the Capitol and I see Karl from Koda. He was more sore than I’d be from a competition the day before. This part of the race is weird to me. Heading towards the Capitol building is fun, but the area and crowd support isn’t super great just because of the large distance that’s covered right here and it’s all in a straight line. I see Katie Walker and wave as I continue on.
  • Turning back into the “city” areas is great. We head north from 23rd into a fun area that I’ve come to love in the recent years. Gorgeous yards, pretty houses and for marathon weekend, great crowd support for the next 4 miles. I see Cameron, whose mother used to babysit me back in my kindergarten days. As we approach Edgemere Park, I miss seeing the Arguello’s on the bridge as their kids were participating in the kids marathon at that same time downtown.
  • When we turn on 37th heading towards the Gorilla Hill area, there is a house that always has vodka shots. I’m running the half-marathon sometime and stopping at every fun stop there is. Some have vodka, others mimosa, others donuts and bacon. But when running a full marathon, never a good idea at mile 5.
  • Gorilla Hill! I see Jerad Abbott, Reid Reagan, Jared Muse, Gary Wood and others passing what is probably the best known area of the marathon. Love drunk people at 7:30am. Always great.
  • This year’s course was a bit different with construction happening on Western so instead of getting to run right by Megan’s house, we had to run all the way to 50th on Shartel. Once we got to 50th and Western, Megan and her weenie dog, Bailey, were there waiting for me. I stopped for a quick second to talk to them and that’s when I realized my foot was hurting. Not the foot that was hurt earlier in the season, but the other one. I must have been favoring it a bit. Mile 8. That’s not good. Also, this is the part that kind of stinks. The half marathoners keep going west to Classen and the full marathoners turn north heading towards the Chesapeake campus. The crowd lightens and you begin to settle in knowing you have almost a shit-ton of miles left. Mental battle, commence.
  • From here, things are not necessarily boring, just not a whole lot to remember. Classen to Britton seems almost entirely uphill. I get to see a few Kodites at the 3rd relay exchange. And then, we start heading west towards Lake Hefner. It was in this section of the race that I saw a high school classmate, Krystal, and then the best sign of the day. A lot of folks go with the classics, “Harder, Faster, Stronger… That’s what she said” or the ever popular, “Don’t trust a fart,” but this one got me the most: “Free Wifi.” I laughed and kept at it.
  • Running around the lake is a good thing, mainly because it’s the point where you turn around and start heading back. I was hanging in there with the 3:50 pace group. Right where I wanted to be. I stayed with them for 4 miles or so and then started to drop back around Mile 18 but I knew I had 10 minutes to play with until that 4:00 marathon mark. It was at mile 18 where Cole, Bo and Megan were supposed to meet me with some nutrition. As I approached our usual meeting spot (it’s awful that I have a usual meeting spot on a marathon course…) I didn’t see them and then I look towards the south and from afar I can spot Chloe. I yell and keep running. About a minute later, Cole and Chloe are sprinting up towards my side and Megan is not far behind. I get my nutrition thankfully(!!).
  • Now begins the hard part. I’m lucky enough to run with a group that runs Nichols Hills every Sunday so I know this part of the course well. There are a few gradual climbs and then a solid downhill with a straight-away before getting to the hardest climb of the course just before Classen Curve. After Classen Curve, it’s just one big boring stretch heading south. During that stretch this time, I was able to see Megan once more and she was also able to get caught taking a selfie by Katie Walker, so that was fun.
  • Up to this point at Mile 24-25, I was feeling good. Not great, but good. I was able to have continued to run without walking and as I turn and see the mile 25 flag and also Jared and Emily Pomeroy and crew. Jared rode his bike with me for a bit and as soon as he turned away, HAMSTRING CRAMP. Same spot as last year and same people that I last saw before it happened last year too. I know how to handle these (un)fortunately. They hurt. It feels like you won’t be able to get going again, but as soon as you fight through that first step, in my previous experiences including this one, I’ve been fine until the end. As I was stretching out my hamstring, the 4:00 pace group passed me. That was my goal I had in my head. That upset me that they were passing me. Once I began running again, I picked it up. I was close. I fought for this one and I passed that 4:00 group again. As I was running down Broadway, it seemed like it would never end. Finally, the crowd thickened and the yells were getting stronger. I kept running at my faster pace and crossed the finish line completing my 7th marathon, what felt like my hardest yet.

From there, it’s a disaster trying to get to my car. Not because of the race, or the organization or the crowds but because walking has now all of a sudden become dangerously hard. Wobbling to my car, I was happy, but that quarter-mile trek was the hardest part of the marathon. I celebrated with friends at our usual post-marathon spot, Republic, where day drinking at 10:30am can begin because after 26 miles, that 7pm bedtime cannot come soon enough.

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon v3

The 2014 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was my third OKC Memorial Marathon and was just as long as I remembered. In terms of time dedicated to the race on Race Day, it was longer.

I did my normal routine on Saturday which is find good food to eat throughout the day and have my last meal around 6:00pm. I had a bachelor party to go to that night. It consisted of staying out for an hour and drinking water. The others had more fun than I did, I bet. After I got back to the house, I prepped my clothes and headed to bed.

I slept beautifully. I got up once to use the bathroom and went right back to bed before my alarm went off at 4am. I got up. Showered (I shower before I work out. No matter event, workout, time, it has to happen.) and put on my race day garb, which this year consisted of my Koda CrossFit Endurance shirt. I had my coffee and headed to the gym to open it up at 5am for the other members who were participating. There, we stretched, rolled out, talked, took care of a few things and we were out the door at 5:35am, right when the rain started.

I coach at SandRidge Energy a few times a week and was able to use my badge to park in their parking garage. It was there that we waited for an hour getting updates on the weather and delays. After a little bit, I was getting restless so I suggested we head to their fitness center across the street. They had a awesome set up: water, toast, granola bars, coffee and most importantly bathrooms. We hung out there until 5 minutes before kick-off which at this point was 8am. After we got in line, where it was still raining, it was announced that we would not start until 8:15. This quickly turned into 8:20 but what was 5 more minutes. Jared Muse, Ryan Cunningham, Michael Bowers and myself were all huddled in a group in our trash bags ready to get this thing underway. 8:20 approached and we were (FINALLY) off.
10010189_252043564980778_1981510861809493662_o

  • Start – 168 seconds of silence. Rain. National Anthem. More Rain. Gun goes off. No rain.
  • Mile 1 – Was a little nervous about the weather still. My shirt was still wet. Got worried about those nipples. Thank you quick drying Koda tech t-shirt.
  • Mile 2.2 – What the hell, Ryan!? Bathroom break already? I’ll hold it.
  • Mile 2.5 – There is Danielle. Looking strong at this point of her first marathon. “Man, it’s humid. Could use some of that rain to cool me off.”
  • Mile 3-4 – This part of the race is heading towards The Capitol is usually way prettier than it was this morning. With no sun rising due to cloud cover it was just a dreary run down Lincoln.
  • Mile 5.5-7 – Running through Edgemere Park and Gorilla Hill. Saw Joseph Arguello and Co., David Little, Gary Wood, Katie Johnson, Matt Blose and Staci Jo Welch. This part of the race was very fun as always but what made it better was all the Kodites. Wanted to grab a donut where they were handing out donuts, a glass of champagne where they were handing out champagne and vodka where they were handing out vodka but instead, I just got a water and high fives.
  • Mile 7-8 – This is where the half marathon splits and the full keeps going. It is so loud and exciting at the turn for the half marathon…. and then gets so quiet as soon as the full marathon keeps going. This is really a mental battle here. You have to keep going because you have 18 more miles to go, but with the crowds becoming few and far betweeen, you just have your thoughts to keep you entertained. A lot of those thoughts are of you stopping, so you have to fight yourself for the majority of the remaining miles.
  • Mile 10 – 3rd Relay Exchange point. Got to see Anthony Robb a few other folks at that point. It was encouraging since Classen is an incline the entire way to Wilshire it felt like. I remember thinking, I’m halfway. Halfway to Mile 20 where I’d be only 6 miles out.” That’s what you kind of have to do during such a long event.
  • Mile 11-12 – I kept looking at my watch. My pace was set for 8:00 which would have me finish the marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes, a lofty goal considering that I weigh a little more than I did last year. I also didn’t get to do my programming like I wanted to. I did all the weekend runs, but was rarely able to do my class during the week because of the increase in popularity. A good problem to have by all means. But I was roughly 40 seconds ahead of my pace after 12 miles and I kept feeling good. I made small goals from here on out to stay the same pace until 14. Until 15. Until 17. Until 18. Until 20.
  • Mile 13.1 – For real halfway. Saw Mrs. Bowers and family as well as Family Solis and Liz Le. It was good to see them and hear their cheers.
  • Mile 14 – With the weather the way it was and the way it was being predicted leading up to Race Day, I knew it would be windy as anything getting out towards Lake Hefner. To my surprise, it was windy, but nothing like I had expected and nothing like the day that we ran our “long run” of 13 miles a few weeks earlier. I was excited about this and was still able to hold my 7:55-8:05 miles. My aunt is always volunteering at the Southwest water stop and luckily, she yelled at me before I passed completely and was able to see her.
  • Mile 17 – Just over the bridge on Grand Blvd over Hefner Parkway. I felt strong on the hills. That’s where I kept passing people. I really like this part of the course, mainly because it’s where we do our weekend runs and I know exactly what is ahead of me. I was able to see Cole, Sharp, Bo and Amanda and her sign, “Free Puppies at the Finish. Hurry!” Cole handed me my ClifBloks which were huge because it gave me a different texture than the ClifShots I had been taken. Plus they’re delicious.
  • Mile 18-20 – Was still feeling great. Holding my pace steady, surprisingly. I was hurting quite a bit last year around this area and was very excited to feel fine. Saw Natasha Bennett and kept running down Grand where we were offered a little bit a shade. It was hot by this point. We weren’t in the wind and the humidity had decreased but the sun was in full effect.
  • Mile 20 – Up the hill on Classen Curve. It’s huge. I cramped last year at this exact point. I didn’t this time. Victory.
  • Mile 21 – Now I’m heading directly south on Classen. Directly south means directly into the wind which had picked up a little it felt like. I was hitting the wall. I convinced myself I’d walk a little. So I did. Felt defeated kind of for doing so. I walked 100m and started running again. I was nervous because I knew it got easier to walk as soon as you felt what walking was like (btw, it feels soooooo good!). After that 100m walk, felt like a got a second wind and was comfortable running again, just at a slower pace.
  • Mile 22-24 – Saw Katie, Matt and Gary again. Grabbed an ice cold water from them which was clutch and kept going. I was really hungry at this point. Grabbed food at every stop that was around. However, I never did get pretzels. That has always seemed like the worst idea to me. Those dry your mouth out like crazy. I always went for the apples and orange and bananas which seemed like there weren’t many food stops this year. Maybe I was just hungrier.
  • Mile 25 – Saw Emily Pomeroy and Trent and their kids. Smiled big and waved. Then 18 steps later, my right hamstring cramped up big time and had to stop right in the middle of an intersection. The guy there asked if I wanted to go to the curb and pointed to the one behind me. Told him, “Can’t go back.” He gave me the Gatorade he had in his pocket. I was thankful and after about 30 seconds, I was off running again.
  • Mile 26.1 – The 2 or 3 miles leading up to this point seem to take forever. You want it to be over so bad and you can’t seem to make it any faster. Here, I had already made my last turn and the crowd was getting bigger and bigger as I made my way down broadway. I see Kip and then my left hamstring cramps. I don’t stop because I don’t want to stop with thousands right there watching me so I fight through it and finally make it across the finish line in 3 hours 38 minutes and 12 seconds.
okc2014

I was finished. I had completed my 6th marathon. I was very proud of my time and how I did throughout the race. Learned a few things and am excited to hear other people’s stories of their day. Congratulations to all the participants and everyone who had a part in the race from Koda CrossFit. Might I add that those shirts looked good out there.

OKC Marathon 5×26.2

As I do with all my races, I like to recap each one going into detail about what I was thinking at certain points during the day. Here is the 2013 version of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Here is the 2010 version if you want the first go-’round.

April 28th, 2013 marked the 5th time I would take on the 26.2 mile distance. I took a different approach to training for this marathon, a minimalist one. I only trained with CrossFit the majority of the time and threw in some CrossFit Endurance workouts in occasionally. I found that it was difficult to coach a CFE class and do the workout (alone, mind you) in the same day so most of the time, I only coached. I felt I was in shape enough to go out and finish the distance and mentally, I knew what was ahead of me throughout the run so I was good in that arena as well. Time was the only thing I was unsure of going into this marathon. I kind of set a goal to be sub 3:30 but time wasn’t the most important part of this race. This race, I wanted to enjoy the entire thing and not black out anywhere along the route like I have in several of my marathons.

The morning of, I opened Koda at 5:00am to give people the opportunity to walk through a warm up and prepare for what was to take place soon. I thought we’d have maybe 5 people, 10 at most, show up. Nearly 30 people were in the gym warming up. I led a little group mobility and warm up and gave a few tips and pointers and answered a few questions from those that were just a little nervous before their first half/full marathon. At 5:35, we all made our way downtown to get in line for the start. And so it began.

  • Start – 168 seconds of silence. The first time I ran it, I was so rushed and nervous to get to the start that I was running late and had to jump the fence even after the gun went off so I didn’t get a chance to be a part of this. It was very powerful especially with the events that took place in Boston just two weeks prior.
  • Mile 1 – In 2010, the Devon Tower wasn’t there. We were heading right for it and running right below it this time around. It was very cool to be running under tall buildings.
  • Mile 2 – I got rid of one of my fat long sleeve t-shirts. I knew I hung on to those for some reason and this was a perfect occasion for me to throw it away.
  • Mile 2.2 – Bathroom break. What the hell, Ryan!?
  • Mile 2-5 – I ran into so many people that I knew from the gym, from school and from different running events. It was fun talking to everyone as we ran by the capital and headed back west approaching Gorilla Hill.
  • Mile 6 – QUADS. Just 20 more miles. Shit.
  • Mile 7 – Running through Edgemere Park and Gorilla Hill was very fun this time around. Saw some more friends and took in all the parties going on with the music blaring. We approached the split where the half marathon split off and the full marathon kept going. Things got less crowded and less exciting but we still had a ways to go. Can’t get bored now.
  • Mile 8 – 10 – Did not remember this part of the race last time at all. Found out that I didn’t remember alot of the race the first time around. There are so many parks in this part of the city. So many places to play offense/defense. Kind of cool.
  • Mile 10 or 11 – This is where the 3rd relay exchange was. I saw a buddy from the gym and he cheered me on. I was still at a good pace right now and was ahead of schedule. It was either going to be a great, great day or one that I’d end up regretting with the current pace I was holding.
  • Mile 12-16 – I ran with two guys this stretch of the race, west on Britton and around the lake to Stars and Stripes park. I let one guy be in the lead the entire time and completely drafted off of him. Kind of a douche move on my part having never been first to take on the wind but that’s ok. I wasn’t planning on having a beer with this guy afterwards. At this point in the race, I was starving. I was so hungry. I took my gels but those don’t fill you up. I needed food so I began grabbing bananas and oranges at each stop they offered them. Pretzels don’t do it for me and I knew that going in so I never reached for those.
  • Mile 16-20 – These miles were really close to my house. I saw my roommate, Cole and Chloe (aka Tick Face). He handed me a water bottle with a much needed Nuun. These miles were the ones that Koda Endurance did all winter long. We ran Grand Blvd. every Sunday for 5 months nearly. They were primarily downhill but I began to unravel at this point in the race. My feet were beginning to hurt and my miles were slowing.
  • Mile 20 – I had one 10k left. It was going to take forever. I saw a few Koda folks right at 63rd and Grand and got a quick boost. That lasted all of 150m. My hamstring cramped as I went up the hill right before Classen Curve. I was in trouble. I stopped. Bent over and stretched out my right hamstring. I was nervous to get going but this has happened in several of my other marathons as well. That first step is questionable but afterwards, things get back to normal. I was thankful that it was the case this time around.
  • Mile 20-23 – This stretch of the race is kind of boring. This is where I almost broke down completely the first time I ran OKC. I was on the verge of tears having to walk every quarter of a mile or so. Having to walk by all the spectators cheering for you was miserable. I wasn’t walking this time, but I was slowing. I saw a few more people from Koda that lifted my spirits a bit. Taylor, a guy in my Endurance class, ran with me for a little bit. I was glad to have someone to talk to. I was 2 hours and 45 minutes into the day. I was ready for it to be over. At mile 23, a little girl was handing out candy. I had candy during my marathon for my Ironman and it helped a ton. I grabbed what I thought was going to be Skittles but instead it was two Starbursts. I’m not turning around for Skittles. I opened up the candy (which took what seemed like half a mile because the wrappers on wrappers on wrappers) and as always… a yellow and an orange. Never had I enjoyed a lemon Starburst more. For the next 3 miles of the race, that’s all I wanted. I needed that yellow Starburst.
  • Mile 24 – 5k LEFT!
  • Mile 25 – I ran up one last gigantic hill that was the last struggle before the homestretch. Right as I turned towards the finish line, there was a large Koda group cheering/drinking. It was exactly what I needed. They said I looked good at the turn for it being 25 miles into a marathon but I felt like garbage. Only 1 mile left.
  • Screen-Shot-2013-05-07-at-9.29.43-AM

  • Mile 26 – Running down Broadway is the best. I was pushing 3:30 but was needing to sprint in order to make it. I was content with not making 3:30. I kept running. Smiling the entire way down Broadway and to the finish line. I didn’t hear my name but was very excited to cross the finish line, get my medal and grab as much food as possible… except the Carl’s Jr. burgers. I knew what those would do to me.

I had to walk back to my car from the finish line… about another half mile. It took me longer to walk that than I imagined it would have when I parked there. I didn’t necessarily train for a marathon but wanted to prove to myself that I could get up and run one if I wanted to and that’s exactly what I did.

I remembered more from this race than any of my other races. It was a different experience and one that I’d welcome any day of the week when it came down to running marathons. Running to run is fun sometimes, but running to remember was way more exciting. We had over 40 people run some part of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and seeing all those people finish their legs of the relay, finish their half marathons and finish their full marathons made me so proud to have been some part of their journey.


I Am An Ironman – Ironman Louisville 2012

11 hours, 55 minutes and 58 seconds after jumping into the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, I became an Ironman. It has been a weirdly incredible journey over the past 9 months.

Between December of 2011 and August 26th, 2012, ish got real. I lost my job. I sold my house. I sold nearly all of my possessions. I moved 1,361 miles away. I was a bum. I swam in the Pacific. I cycled in the mountains. I ran on the beach. I got a job. I moved 1,329 miles back the other direction. I rode on Route 66. The job changed a great deal. I discovered Austin…. and at the end of it all, I swam 2.4 miles in the Ohio River. I cycled 112 miles through Kentucky’s rolling hills. I ran a marathon in 93 degree heat. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. I became an Ironman.

Race Week: With any endurance event training, there is a taper. It’s the worst part of training season. You’ve spent so much time training and putting in the time and effort for race day that you can’t sit still. You have to unfortunately. With the unknown looming, it has been worse. My previous 3 marathons, I knew what to expect. I knew my training was on point. I knew what it took to make it 26.2 miles. This race, I had no clue as to what was coming on Sunday, August 26th. That’s what made race week nearly unbearable.

backpack-e1346248931109

My roommates and coworkers threw me a little “Good Luck and Don’t Die” party on Wednesday. It was awesome and I they even made me a motivation book. Thursday morning, I took off to Louisville. I got settled in my place and went to get checked in. There, we were given our countless items we needed for the event. The best item we received was no doubt the awesome backpack. Thursday night, I explored the part of Louisville that I was staying in and found it to be a really fun city. I just couldn’t take part.

Friday, I met a group from the IAMTRI Group (a great resource for Ironman Louisville if you can tolerate sifting through a few 100 pointless email notices). We went on a 20 mile bike ride of the course and followed that up with driving the course. It helped big time to have some sort of knowledge of the course before actually racing it, being an out-of-towner. I met two guys that I hung out with the rest of the day at the IAMTRI Fundraiser event and then at the Athlete Welcome Banquet that night. The food wasn’t terrible and the event was all about getting you pumped up for the race that was to take place on Sunday morning.

That night, I slept awful. I just couldn’t get much sleep. I woke up early and rode my bike down to the practice swim session in the Ohio river. Jumped in and had a nice, leisurely 18 minute swim. Afterwards, I went back to where I was staying and packed all my transition bags. Double and triple checking everything I needed was included. I then went and checked my bike and bags at transition. Let me tell you, I thought I spent plenty of money doing this triathlon thing… sheesh! People have dropped some coin on bikes and gear. It’s incredible the amount of cool stuff one can have on a bike. Once that was done. It was time to hydrate, fuel up and relax. My parents, sister and niece all came into town that night and we went to eat at this Italian cafe. Spaghetti was the meal of choice, naturally. Once I had my fill, my family dropped me off and I was in bed right around 9:45. Perfect.

Race Day: 3:40am – Alarm goes off and I jump right out of bed. I slept amazingly well. I got up about three times to go to the bathroom which was a great sign as inconvenient it may be. I immediately went to the kitchen and made my two sweet potatoes, 2 bananas and 2 bags on instant oatmeal. It was slightly tough getting all that down for breakfast at such an early time but I knew I needed it. This is where all the mental games began. My dad picked me up at 4:30 and I made my way into transition, getting my tires aired up, nutrition on the bike and my Garmin in my run gear back and began making my way to the swim start.

For Ironman Louisville, the swim begins about 3/4s of a mile away from the transition so athletes must walk to the start to get marked and grab their spot in line. I got my spot towards the front, but there were still several hundreds of people in front of me. No sweat. I sit down and cool out just trying to think of the day ahead. The time was 5:40 by this point. It was going to be a long day.

Time absolutely flew by and 6:35 was here. I took my gel that I brought with me and the line was slowly creeping up as people were beginning to stand in line bunching up towards the front. At 6:45 or so, the announcer came on the speaker system and we could hear the National Anthem and at 6:50, the pros were off. It was very cool to see what fast swimmers look like in the pro field. Then it was the age grouper’s turn. I never had nerves as those are usually accompanied by cause for concern and never once did I have that. Excitement is what I would describe the feeling I had as the gun went off and the line began moving. HERE WE GO!

Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-8.12.39-PM

SWIM – 1:13:35
Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-10.30.53-PM

I’m smiling all the way to the start. I get to the end of the dock and jump in feet first. Swimming all those times in La Jolla and here in Barton Springs prepared me for this moment. Open water swimming is a different animal and you HAVE to practice in order to survive it. I immediately got in my rhythm and headed up Tow Head Island. It was .8 miles up the channel before turning around and heading down the river for another 1.6 miles to the transition. My breathing was better during this swim than in any other practice swim. It was weird but I was thankful for it. Every third stroke, I’d take a breath. Sighting was incredibly simple with bridges to target with every look. Also the line of swimmers helped too. My right ankle began to ache a bit so I had to quit kicking with my right foot for a while and it bothered me for the rest of the swim. It seemed to take forever to get to the first bridge but once there, the second bridge came right after and we were nearly done. In the past, I’ve exited the water and been dizzy but this time around, I was perfect. The pain in my ankle simply just went away also. I never thought about it again. I was excited and all smiles again. I heard my sister screaming for me and saw them and waved.

Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-8.12.23-PM
BIKE – 6:18:32
Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-10.30.12-PM

Transition was great. The volunteers were awesome and one guy helped me the entire time I was in T1. I got my nutrition in me, water in me, my chamois cream smothered where it needed to be and my shoes on. Ran out of there, got sunscreen on and grabbed my bike… all in under 5 minutes. On my way out, I saw my family again. Waved adios to them and told them I’d see them in about 6.5 hours.

The bike section is pretty simple in terms of direction. You stay on a road for a long time, make a right, turnaround, make a right, stay on a road for a long time, couple of turns, do it again, stay straight and you’re finished. Things you have to take into account, hills. Lots of them.

Looking back on my training, the hill workouts paid off big time. Throughout the entirety of the 112, not once did I feel like my legs were in a tremendous amount of pain. I didn’t have any cramps. The biggest battle while on the bike for me is the mental aspect of it. 6+ hours is a long time to stay on a bike. I had a plan and I stuck to it, luckily. I took a gel/stinger waffle/bloks every 20 minutes, knocked out 2 bottles of water and/or Ironman Perform (similar to Gatorade) in between aid stations in hopes to have to stop at them to go to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom 5 times during the 112 miles, stopping every time to do so. It was just what I was hoping for honestly. It meant I was staying hydrated but also gave me a chance to jump off my bike and stretch my legs a bit.

210766_10100972536505937_1364619849_o

There were a few lengthy hills that made you work and you had to keep that in mind coming around on the first loop knowing you had to do it again. I kept a reasonably consistent pace considering that I stopped and took bathroom breaks, stopped to get my special needs bag, stopped to refill my aero bottle. My legs never felt too worn out but by mile 90, I was ready to be off the bike for sure. The good thing about mile 90 is that you are heading down the home stretch. The last few miles seemed to stretch out forever and I was extremely happy to see transition off in the distance. I made a few final turns, got out of my shoes and saw my family.

 

Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-8.12.53-PM

RUN – 4:11:18
Coming off the bike, my legs felt surprisingly great. I gave my bike to one of the volunteers and ran down to grab my run bag. I made it to the tent, put on my compression sleeves, socks, shoes and gold bond medicated powder (clutch). I spoke with a few volunteers in there and had some water. With that, I was off again and this time in under 8 minutes.

My legs felt amazing, considering. I took off and I knew I was going out fast but I couldn’t help it. I feel the most comfortable running because that’s the thing I have focused on for over 2 years now. My first 2 miles were an out and back on a bridge over the Ohio River (where we swam earlier) and almost to Indiana. After that, the course cut through downtown and on one road all the way down making a 6.5 mile out and back. We did that part of the course twice totaling the full 26.2 miles.

Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-10.32.07-PM

I ran without walking through the first 8 miles. My plan going into it was run as long as I could and then walk the aid stations from there. This started at mile 8. Also starting at mile 8, a sharp pain that came from a left calf cramp. This only happened twice and it only happened for a split second. At mile 10, this happened again but in my right calf. After mile 10, I had zero cramps the rest of the run. From mile 10 to 15 were consistent miles but my time was slipping slowly. I had it mapped out in my head at mile 13 where I could be when I cross the finish line. My goal of a 4 hour marathon was going to be close and had to keep consistent 9:30 miles from then on out. That was going to be tough. But after doing some math, I would still be able to hit my overall goal of a sub-12 hour race. I was shooting for it.

At mile 15, a lady ran next to me. We were doing the exact same pace with the same plan of walking the aid stations. We didn’t speak for the near hour and a half that we ran together but we knew what we were doing. We would push each other to start running after the aid stations (the hardest part) and we would stick together running the mile until the next aid station. In retrospect, this was huge for me. I don’t know if I could have kept that pace without her. Mile 20 is when things started to unravel. I had taken Ironman Perform, water, cola, chicken broth and oranges and bananas at the aid stations when I needed it. After mile 20, nothing was going down without a horrible feeling afterwards for the next half mile. I stuck strictly to water after that. At mile 22, I hit the wall. This was unlike any other wall I had hit before though. Nothing was cramping or anything but my feet were hurting big time. I had the chills but I was still sweating. I made a plan to walk the aid stations (1 mile apart) and then I would walk for 1 minute at the mile marker (roughly .3 or .4 miles from the aid station) and then I’d run to the next aid station. This continued until just after mile 24.

Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-7.55.55-PM

After mile 24, I knew it was right around the corner. I found a guy that was keeping a steady pace. I stuck with him. We talked a bit and both passed the final 2 aid stations and right at mile 25, I picked it up. I had a sudden boost of energy and my feet quit hurting. A smile returned to my face and the crowd began to appear in the distance. I ran through downtown Louisville, made a few turns and there it was. The finish line. I entered the finisher’s shoot and heard the crowd. Then it went silent. I didn’t hear anything. I ran to the finish line, stopped, took a bow and crossed. I never heard my name called and I never heard the words, “You are an Ironman,” but they were said. I saw my family as soon as I crossed and I was filled with an unbelievable feeling. The volunteer asked how I was feeling and I said great. She asked if I needed medical and told her no I didn’t. I got my medal, my t-shirt, hat, water and Perform and then I kind of blacked out. I remember bits and pieces from the next 5-10 minutes. I struggled to catch my breath and was a little light headed but my legs felt relatively good. I was able to walk and get my gear, including my bike and then it was time to rest and recover. I earned it. I WAS AN IRONMAN.

Screen-Shot-2012-08-28-at-11.56.07-PM

This has been a long, long, long journey to get here. Zip codes changed, people were met, stories were told, tips were given, training got longer, all for one goal. Though I trained solo for the majority of the 9 months, I definitely could not have done this with out the support of my friends, family and another Ironman Finisher and coach. Thank you to my friends who tuned me out and let me go on and on about training sessions, long runs, longer rides and all the laps in the pool. Here is a prime example to the right: In all seriousness, all of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends motivated me as well. Knowing that I had so many people tracking me pushed me to the finish line. I’d also like to thank my coach-from-afar, Stacy. She was always there to answer any question I had and sent me some incredible motivational messages to prepare me for my day. I Shawshank’d it, no doubt. Thank you to my family who always asked how things were going during training and who always wanted to hear my story. My mom, dad, sister and niece who were my support crew throughout the race day. Every time I saw them, I needed them. The boost that you get from seeing people that care for you so much is amazing during any event like this.

Looking back at the day 48 hours later, there were very few things that I could have done to improve this first time around. I was right mentally the entire day. Never did I think I wouldn’t finish. I was happy. I took things as they came and actually enjoyed them. Triathletes take themselves too seriously, all the time it seems, and I made it a point to not. Laughing, smiling and enjoying the misery can make an Ironman journey incredible and it certainly did mine.
Now I need to go shave my legs. They’re all stubbly.

Tri For Old Glory

It’s been some time since I last updated this bad boy. It’s been a weird few months.

I’ve only completed one triathlon, a Sprint Triathlon previous to this past weekend. Sunday, July 1st, I completed my first Olympic Triathlon in San Marcos, TX that consisted of a 1500m open-water swim, 23 mile bike ride and finishing up with a 10k run. As many know, I’m training for an Ironman that will be taking place on August 26th in Louisville, KY and I wanted to get in a race before that event. I signed up to complete a half-Ironman in San Jose, CA but since then, I moved halfway across the country again. I wasn’t about to fly my bike and all out to CA once again just to kill myself in a race. With that said, this Olympic distance is the next longest event that I could do to try to get some semblance of a race feeling in before August.

I took it extremely easy this past weekend trying to get into how I’d prepare for the Ironman race weekend. I had everything packed the night before so when I woke up Sunday morning at 4am, all that I needed to do was shower and load my bike on the rack(city). I don’t know why, but I have to shower before I go workout. I’ve been doing that for I don’t know how long and it’s weird and pointless but it’s part of my routine. I got everything loaded and made my way to San Marcos, TX, about 40 miles south of Austin. I arrive at the location, unload my bike, pump up my tires, and make the trek into transition. I was one of the earlier ones as I got body marked, got a good spot and transition and made it to the nonexistent bathroom line with quite a bit of time to spare.

One thing was confirmed well before the start of the race and that is that the majority of triathletes are snobs. I don’t really look the part of a triathlete or a runner for that matter because I don’t own all the “good” equipment and I really don’t have the body of an endurance athlete. Athletes notice these things for some reason and usually make a point to ignore those around. None are friendly and most have the elitist mentality. My Nike Dunks and basketball shorts that I wore over my swimsuit didn’t help my cause. For that reason, I try to talk with new people and less experienced runners/triathletes any chance I get. Sidenote: the running community is way friendlier and more willing to help out and talk with those around.

times2

Now for the race. It started with a 1500m swim, a touch under one mile, in a “ski lake” with a time-trial start. That means that people go one at a time and not a mass start. That’s how the swim will start and Louisville so that is awesome that I get to practice that. The water temperature was extremely comfortable and was calm as anything. I really enjoyed the swim. My breathing was amazing and I didn’t feel weak at any point. Steady comes to mind when describing this leg of the race.

564087_10100715374525682_1307530560_n

The bike was a 23 mile (that I thought was 22 miles the entire time) loop that went through a few small towns and country roads east of San Marcos. I hammered it the entire time because I just figured that 22 miles, I can knock out. I averaged right at 20mph through this leg finishing in 1:10:26. There are some very fast cyclists out there but I held my own considerably well and man, what an improvement over that last triathlon that I did.

To finish up the race, a 10k (6.2 mile) run needed to be completed before crossing that finish line. Running is my thing and it showed again during this triathlon. I felt strong the majority of the way and only found myself slowing down through the middle miles a touch. It takes a while for me to get in a rhythm I’ve discovered but once I do, I usually stick with it. I go out fast for the most part and I breathe heavy from the beginning until I find my zone but I can only imagine what it sounds like when I come up on someone… like I’m about to die for sure. I don’t think that the run was exactly 6.2 miles because I finished it in 39 minutes and 7 seconds. That would definitely be an all time record for me, but I don’t know if I ran it thaaaat fast. Either way, everyone had to run the same distance and I finished 8th overall in the run leg of the race.

I learned a tremendous amount from this short, considering what’s to come, olympic distance triathlon. I know kind of what I need to when it comes to the bike portion of the race which is still what I need to learn the most on. It was an all out sprint for all of the bike portion this time around but I know that I can’t do that in my Ironman and still expect to have the legs to finish the run. I’ll have to pace myself and I imagine I will knowing that the ending is 11 hours down the road compared to just over an hour away. Next up… this race times 4 and a half!!

3:19:13 – A Doonkeen Dot Com Exclusive

Well, that was exhausting.

Before getting into the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, let’s go back a few weeks and discuss how training went leading up to December 4th, 2011. After taking off a week or so after my

Chicago Marathon, I was back to training for the next marathon in Las Vegas. I figured 2 months would be plenty of time to recharge and go into the next race ready to PR like nobody’s business. What I didn’t realize was how ready I was for a Saturday off. A day where I could wake up whenever I felt, walk into my living room and play Playstation until the next morning rolls around like a normal 27 year old!

There were 6 weeks between getting going on training again and the race. This is when juggling my runs and my (relatively non-existent) social life got tricky. 6 weekends to get in my long runs, to still have a good time and to apparently travel some more. I succeeded in 2 of those. Guess which two. I did run a 20 mile training run on the first weekend in November and after that, I only completed 1 double digit run and that was an 11 miler when it was supposed to be 18. Things kept getting hairier. When it was time to taper, I felt like I didn’t deserve to taper. I’d been tapering since Chicago it seemed and I just knew when I got to Vegas it would be a train wreck. It was, but not like you would think.

Cancun Resort

I flew into Las Vegas on Saturday morning anxious to get out there, anxious to put in my bet on Oklahoma State, anxious to see how I would handle being in Las Vegas to run a marathon. I arrived at 9:30am where my Dad and Curtis (my Dad’s fishing buddy) picked me up from the airport. He lives out there and so he let us borrow his truck for the weekend to get around and do our thing. We grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to Palace Station. It was one of the smaller casinos but it was the closest to his house where we were going to drop him off. I placed a few sports bets and then played a few table games (roulette and craps) where I found myself losing money quickly. I stepped back, took a breather and downed 3 glasses of water. Yep, water… in Vegas. **Spoiler alert: I was in Vegas for 49 hours… I had zero cocktails.** We then headed to the hotel (pictured). My sister helped out with the hotel as my birthday gift so that was nice and this is where we were able to catch what was to be the greatest football game I have ever witnessed, the Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma Bedlam Game. Fin Saturday.

**ENTER NERVES**

Race Day – I woke up at 7am. Made some coffee in the hotel room and watched a little SportsCenter to hear them talk more and more about my Cowboys. The beauty about being out west when it comes to Sunday mornings…. football is on as soon as you wake up. 9am rolled around and I was getting super nervous about the race. I didn’t know what I could eat, what I should eat, when I should stop eating, etc. It was crazy to think about. I was about to run 26.2 miles at a time I’m not accustomed to at all. Typically, marathons begin bright and early in the mornings. I know what to eat the night before, when to get up, what time to have my breakfast, etc. This was completely different and it left me with quite an uneasy feeling. I grabbed a turkey sandwich from Panera Bread and an Everything Bagel for later. I went back to the hotel and decided to take a nap around 11am. I woke up close to 12:30 from that much needed nap and had my bagel. I continued to hydrate and around 2pm, Pops took me down to the starting line.

As I do with every race recap, I’ll give you a breakdown of what I was thinking as the race progressed through another 26.2 miles.

  • Hour before the start: Cheap Trick is playing. Those guys definitely didn’t do drugs. I have a bad attitude because I know I’m not going to do well. I’m nervous because of my training, because of the late start and because I know we’re going to have to run the same route as the half marathoners that will be smoking by me by the time I get to mile 13.
  • Some American Idol winner/contestant sings ‘God Bless America.’ Question: When did this become an acceptable alternative to the National Anthem? Just curious.
  • The gun goes off and here we go.
  • Mile 1 – Excitement is in the air and people are anxious to get in their stride and on their pace. Things are slow going as it bottlenecks around the first turn. After that first turn… there is nothing but the industrial deserted area of Las Vegas. BORING.
  • Mile 3 – First water stop. Just outside the Hustler Club. Not sure why they didn’t have the water stop in there.
  • Mile 4 – It’s dark now. The sun sets at 4:25 in December in Vegas. I brought gloves with me not knowing if I’d need them. I ran with them in my back pocket in NYC so I knew I could do that if I didn’t use them. I used them from this point and I’m really glad I had them.
  • Mile 5-9 – Pretty boring. We did a couple of loops, crossed a couple of bridges. Some people were discussing Tebow (why wouldn’t a group of marathoners discuss Tim Tebow while running?!).
  • Mile 10 – We begin to head back towards the Strip. We make a few more turns/loops before getting back on the Strip at mile 13.
  • Mile 13.1 – HALFWAY. I’m feeling great. Nothing in my body is hurting. My pace feels right. I know I had another 7 miles until the real race began. Everyone says that a marathon is a 10k with a 20 mile warm up and in all honesty, that’s what it is. In OKC, I hit the wall at mile 19. NYC – mile 23. Chicago – 24. I didn’t know how my body would react this time around. Only time would tell. This is when I got my second wind in a way. We were back on the Strip under the bright lights. The streets were super crowded as the half marathon had gotten underway about 10 minutes previously to my entering of the Strip. This is also when things got weird.
  • Mile 13.7 – “ON YOUR LEFT. ON YOUR LEFT.” I found myself becoming a running snob for the first time ever. In the past, I had appreciated everyone who attempted to run because running is my thing now, I guess. I still am that way. Just for some reason that night as I was on my way at a pretty quick pace, the lane designated for all the marathoners was being overtaken by the half marathoners that had their own lane. It was getting rather hectic to dodge all these people. I like seeing all the sights and I know that that is why many of these people signed up for the race, but me being as competitive as I am and trying to beat my time, I needed to get by.
  • Mile 14-21 – These miles were exactly the same as I just described. All the marathoners around me (not many) were all doing the same thing. “ON YOUR LEFT.” It was getting old.
  • Mile 22 – I catch up with the 3:20 pace group. They had started ahead of me in the corrals because I did not know how I’d do. I typically just run MY race and do it on my own for the most part. As I caught up with the pace leader, I decided it would be a good person to stick with. It was also beneficial because he did all the yelling from here on out. I found people listened to him better than they did me, because he had the pace sign with him.
  • Mile 23 – We somehow convinced three bicyclist “patrolmen” to stay with us and take over the yelling. They did the dirty work for us, thankfully. We thanked them over and over again because the streets were crowded and running at roughly a 7:45 pace (by that time), we were still passing people. The pace leader yelled to the small group who was following him that he was going to slow a bit as they were ahead of pace, but I was feeling pretty saucy so I kept going… and so did one of the bicyclist.
  • Mile 24-26 – I had a “motorcade” to myself. I felt like an elite runner. It was an incredible feeling. The crowd was dwindling on the Strip but the runners were still there. The lights were bright as can be as I passed the Wynn Casino, Paris, Caesar’s, New York, New York, and finally the Mandalay Bay where we started. I was still feeling strong surprisingly. My legs were getting tired like normal, but I felt like I still had some left in the tank. I hadn’t felt the need to stop or walk at all and there were no cramps this time around.
  • Mile 26-26.2 – I kicked it into high gear. I knew I was on the cusp of my time being in the teens. I needed to hurry some. I picked it up and sprinted (I called it a sprint but I think it was just a quicker run than I had been doing the last 4 or 5 miles) and hustled across the finish line. The clock said 3:21:24 or something but I knew I had started a little later than the gun time and I knew my chip time was in the teens!
finaltime

And now it’s time for RACE PHOTOS AND AWKWARD FACIAL EXPRESSIONS!!

runface

I’m not sure I will enter a Rock’n’Roll Marathon again. It was overall a mediocre experience. It just seemed as if the people who put on the event couldn’t care less about those who ran the full marathon. There were very few aid stations along the full marathon route and the whole debacle along the course with the sectioned off lane for marathoners could have been done better. I know the group makes their money off the the half marathon and that’s why there were only 6,000 marathoners out of the 44,000 runners at the event but they could have done a tad bit more for those who chose to run a full marathon. I hope this doesn’t come off too yuppie, but I just wanted the full marathon to get just a fraction of the attention the half marathon got from the group that put on this event. That would have made it a whole lot better experience for me. It was frustrating.

All in all, I ran my race. I beat my PR by more than 8 minutes. I feel like I didn’t even train as well as I could have. I did a lot of lateral moving during a 26.2 mile run. I wonder what could have happened had it not been so congested in areas. I wonder what could happen if I dedicated myself to training in hopes to do better. I wonder.

3:27:39 – A Doonkeen Dot Com Exclusive

I have no clue what Chicago looks like.

You would think that a 26.2 mile tour of the city of Chicago would take you through every district that the city offers. You’d also be correct in that assumption. Running the Chicago Marathon gives you a unique vantage point of such a great city that not many get a chance to experience….. I think.

ownit

Friday afternoon, my Dad and I began our long trip to the Windy City. 847 miles later and a really impressive stay at a Super 8 hotel, we pulled into the parking lot of the Health Expo at 11:56am on Saturday. Those who have ran marathons before know and for those who haven’t, the health expo before a race is really really exciting. Everyone is ready. Everyone is trained. Everyone has their wallets/purses out. I was no different. I picked up my packet with my bib and d-tag, received my swag bag and proceeded to check out what the expo had. I went to “Nike Town” where I bought an awesome shirt and that’s also where I found my name on the wall. Next stop, creep on Alex Morgan, the USWNT soccer player. I’m not sure what love is, but I think I found it…. while being roped off, 30ft away. I found my dad finally and that guy did work. He had more stuff than I did and he wasn’t even running. I don’t think anyone working a booth had the heart to tell him, “no, you can’t have this free stuff because clearly, you aren’t running.” Good for him.

We arrived at the hotel close to 4pm. This is when I started to become really really nervous. My dad wanted to try and find pizza for dinner and honestly I was fine with that even though I knew it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Whatevs. After eating the delicious, delicious pizza, I immediately felt regret and knew I should have gone with some other carb to load up on. Too late now. Just hope for the best. After the really early dinner, I went driving around and found a Panera Bread and grabbed a bagel for the morning. 8:30pm – Lights were out (Thank you, Rangers for scoring 2 before I actually had to go to bed).

RACE DAY

4am came rolling around and I woke up from a great night’s sleep. This is now two marathons in a row where I have had an amazing night the night before where most find it incredibly difficult to sleep. I got to the train station at 5am where I waited for 30 minutes and ate my bagel. Other runners joined me and you could just feel the excitement on the train. People were ready to get going. I, too, was ready and excited and nervous… wait, nope… I just needed to find a restroom. I got to Grant Park at 6am with everyone no one else. It was pretty desolate at that time, completely different than the NYC Marathon. The bathroom lines were non-existent. Water cups were just now being poured. It was a different feeling for sure and definitely not what I was expecting. I waited around until 7am and found my way to Corral D. I talked to a few guys around me and got the email from one of the writers for the Chicago Sun-Times. [I emailed him after the race and found out how he did. He is now sending me a copy of Monday’s paper that has all the finishers’ names printed in it. It was his first marathon and he finished in 4:04 which is amazing! Congratulations to Andy!] 11 months of mental preparation since my last marathon, 18 weeks of serious training, 847 miles of traveling to get to this point…. 7:15am. I’m ready. Let’s do this! OWN IT.

This is how I experienced the running of the 2011 Chicago Marathon.

  • 7:15am – National Anthem. I got chills. 40,000+ people all here at the starting line to accomplish the same feat.
  • 7:30:04 – The horn goes off, Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run blares over the speakers and every single person cheers as the 2011 Chicago Marathon is officially under way.
  • 7:34:41am – I cross the starting line. I have a huge smile on my face. I start my RunKeeper Live and my watch and I’m off!
  • Mile .3 (yep, point three) – Uh oh. I thought those were nerves… nope, I needed to find a bathroom. “Hey look, there’s a wall under a bridge. Bingo.”
  • Mile .4 – Let’s do this!
  • Mile .4 to Mile 7 – I have no clue what just happened. I’m nearly an hour into my run and my watch was already messed up. That happened because I spent too much time under the bridge and my watch lost signal. I know we ran through a bunch of tall buildings and there were tons and tons of people lining the streets. I read all the signs. I remembered none of them. I took a Clif Shot.
  • Mile 8 – Hey, there is Emily… I girl I met in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin at a wedding reception of the family I met while in Turks and Caicos for a wedding that I was actually attending. Yeah, good luck with that one. I was already too far beyond her to stop and get her attention. I had no idea that I would randomly see someone I knew at that point in the race. I checked my phone and had a few texts from people following me on RunKeeper and getting text updates from the Chicago Marathon website. A few were to tell me to slow down and a few were to tell me where people would be to look for them. You know how hard it is to text during a jam packed marathon? Really hard.
  • chicagomarathon

  • Mile 8 to 13 – Seriously?!? Halfway?! What is going on?!? I don’t remember anything. I felt great. I wasn’t really paying attention to my splits on my messed up watch (that was .6 miles ahead) but knew that I was keeping within myself. I was calm, relaxed, hot and just kept going. THERE’S POPS! It was great seeing him even though I have no idea how I saw him. We were headed west now.
  • Mile 13.1 to 17 – OH MY GOSH! I think I keep blacking out. It’s really hot by this point in time. I have taken a gatorade, water and dumped a cup of water on my head at every station since the 4th one. I still feel good. I just keep chugging along. Nothing is hurting. I’ve taken 3 Clif Shots by this point but that is what I was planning to do.
  • Mile 17.5 – THERE IS MARISA AND KYLIE! They came down from Milwaukee to watch me (for the 4 seconds I saw them). I gave them both hugs and was on my way. Those who have ran this far know that if you stop, you aren’t starting again. I had to keep my legs moving. I’m so glad I saw them because I needed a little boost and seeing people you know gives you such great feeling. It helps more than most would think.
  • Mile 17.6 to 21 – I stepped in puddle and hoped that it was water and not gray water or something else that I am 85 percent sure it was.
  • Mile 21 to 23 – I keep passing people. I see people dropping left and right. Whoa! There’s my right calf. Just a little cramp. Knotted up for a second but decided to calm itself. Thank goodness.
  • Mile 24 – SIDE STITCH!!!!!! I had never experienced one of these during any of my previous marathons or training runs. I’m not sure if it was because I had taken in so much gatorade and water or not enough. I didn’t know what caused it but it made me slow down in a heart beat. Wow. That was incredible.
  • Mile 24.5 – CRAMP. My right calf reared its ugly head yet again. This time, it decided to stick around. Three steps in a row, it knotted up on me. I had to walk for about 20 seconds. I was getting upset. No way do I go this far only to be stopped by a ridiculous cramp in my calf. I pushed ahead and picked up running again.
  • Mile 26 – Andy, the guy for the Chicago Sun-Times told me there was a hill at the end of the race. He WAS NOT lying. 400 meters before the finish line, a huge hill. “What in the world?! Who puts that there?! Why is it so steep!? Really?! This?! Now!?” That is what I was thinking as I “ran” up this hill. Once I topped that hill, there it was, the finish line.
  • Mile 26.2 – The ended wasn’t nearly as excruciating as the end of the NYC marathon even with the hill. I’m not sure if it was the training or what, but I did it. I DID IT. I broke the 3:30 mark after never breaking the 4 hour mark in a marathon before. 3:27:39 was my final time, beating my previous PR by more than 32 minutes. The feeling that overwhelmed me was incredible. I had pushed myself so much during the previous 18 weeks, I did it. I don’t remember anything, but I know I did it.
  • postgame
    splits

This marathon is the first that I had taken serious. My training runs were crucial and I HAD to do them all summer long. I made myself do them. I got made fun of by my friends and I missed out on a few things, but I am so glad that everything I had gone through for 4 1/2 months finally paid off. My dad and friends were there to see it all happen and so many others were there with me following me on twitter, RunKeeper and getting texts through the website. One of the things that honestly kept me going was knowing that people knew my goal time. I told a few that I was pushing for 3:30. I didn’t want to disappoint them. It really helped me knowing that other people knew what I was shooting for.

Few things I didn’t know before this weekend:

  1. Snoop Dogg will be playing at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, OK on October 27th. Chance he misread that contract before signing it?
  2. Super 8 hotels, give me all $45 worth of that!
  3. Gatorade Recover, the one with the protein in it… absolutely terrible.
  4. “HTFU.” I’ll be making this sign at the next marathon I cheer for. That was the best sign I saw. Runner up: “Don’t Shit Yourself.”

I will never forget the Chicago Marathon… what little I remember from it.

2011 Route 66 Sprint Triathlon

Last August, I bought a 2009 Specialized Allez from a local bike shop on clearance. I bought it with the idea that I would start adding cycling into my routine and hopefully get into triathlons in the future. The triathlon season kind of dies down around August/September so I wasn’t able to get into a routine in enough time to try out a triathlon last summer so my first opportunity to get involved in this sport happened this past weekend in El Reno, OK at the Route 66 Sprint Triathlon.

I have had this in my sights for a few months now so I began training, well, I began to add to my training. I had always been running so I threw in some cycling and swimming in the mix to try to up my fitness level in those events. The swimming, I always had been in the pool and I am a decent swimming. Not super fast, but not slow and am able to knock out 500 meters without drowning so I figured I would at least be able to finish that leg. I was trying my best to get in an open water swim before the event, but I came down with my first cold in a year and a half last week and was unable to get out there and practice. That came back to haunt me.

The cycling portion of the triathlon was where I thought I could at least hang. Again, I wasn’t a fast cyclist and I haven’t been doing it too long so I had no idea how I would actually compare to others in a racing environment. I got together with a local bike club to do a few group rides before to get the feel for riding with others. Like I said before, running is my thing….

Race morning: I wake up at 4:55 pretty amped up. I had everything out that I needed for each leg of the race. I made sure my water bottles were chilled, my Clif Shots ready, tires filled, etc. I make a stop to grab a coffee and granola bar and I’m on my way. I make the drive from the southside of OKC to El Reno which is about 40 minutes away and check in to get marked, my chip and instructions for the transition area. This being my first triathlon, I did a lot of people watching to try and figure out how to properly set up my area in order to come out ready to go without spending alot of time in the area. Once I had everything ready to go, it was time to start.

Let me tell you know, open water swimming is absolutely insane. By yourself, it’s not tooooo bad. But with 200 other people in a muddy muddy lake, it’s absolutely ridiculous. I could not see anything and I kept hitting/kicking people which freaked me out. It took literally 300 meters to be able to put my head down comfortably and actually swim. Before that point in time, I swam with my head above the water in fear of dying. It was absurd. Once I got the hang of it, I had no problem and was able to finish….alive in 10 minutes and 50 seconds.

I quickly put on my cycling shoes with the clips, helmet and sunglasses and took off. This leg is where I thought I could at least hang on and hold my own. This portion of the race ended up being the most difficult and most demoralizing part of the race. I was being passed by everyone and I felt like I was doing all I could to maintain the speed I was going (which apparently was not fast at all). The guy with one leg even passed me. It was an out and back course and we finally made the turn back. I kind of picked it up a little bit now that I knew where we were in the race. I only gained ground on 2 people the entire 13 miles of that cycling part of the traithlon. Made it into the transition area again/finally. It was a very good learning experience.

In the transition area, I put on my socks and running shoes and FINALLY I was running. This was the area that I knew I could excel. I started out with the idea that I could keep a 7 minute pace. As I was running the first mile, it sure didn’t feel like I was running very quickly but I could tell I was because I was passing people… alot of them. I guess I didn’t have my “legs under me” on mile 1 because I ran it at a 6:38 pace. I stayed strong and kept pushing on that run and ran mile 2 at 6:59 and that final mile at a 6:46 pace. It was pretty awesome and after crossing the finish line made me strongly consider just sticking to running from now on.

My first Sprint Triathlon was over and I finished with a time of 1:21:21 which was good enough for 64/183. The results came in Sunday night and I wanted to see how I did in each event, so I dropped that results sheet into a spreadsheet and this is how each leg broke down.

  • Swimming: 10:50 (71/183)
  • Cycling: 46:46 (136/183)
  • Running: 21:02 (18/183)

All this for an overall finish of 64th place which I didn’t feel bad about one bit. I now know what I need to work on for the next one. Yep, I said it. There has to be a next one. I need to improve on my time so in order to do that, there is going to be a next one… just have to find one now.

2011 Guinness Challenge

Let me start by saying this, I like Guinness. I enjoy it quite a bit. Last Saturday however, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually do. (Sidebar: This is going to be a short short recap)

Me and my buddy Cole participated in the 2011 McNellie’s Pub Guinness Challenge. A timed 4 mile event where you had to drink 3 beers along the way. One beer at 1.5 miles, another at 2.5 miles, and another one at mile 4 before crossing the finish line. These weren’t just Dixie cups full of Guinness, these were full 16oz pints of thick, dark, room-temp Guinness Draught. It was quite an experience.

The race began at 10:30 in the morning. Cole was primed from the night before (hungover) and I was ready to get after it. Our thinking was we’d go out fast and just hang on because it was only 4 miles. The gun went off and we were out of the gate. You know how adrenaline kicks in at the start of the races and for distance runners, the key is to bottle that adrenaline for later? Well, when you actually plan to go out fast and adrenaline kicks in…. you go out even faster. Cole and I both ran the first mile in 6:35 and got to the first beer stop quickly. Downed the first one and discovered that this was indeed going to be a challenge. Got after the next mile and back to the same beer stop to knock out another one. This one being a little tougher because I was out of breath and trying to drink. Only had a mile and a half to go….. until anooottthhheerr beer. This last leg was the toughest. By this point, I started to have side cramps and I was struggling to keep things down. I still had a quick pace going and then there was the finish line. I only had one more beer to go. I was out of breath and not thirsty, that’s for sure. I stomached this final one and crossed with a time of 27:10 finishing 10th out of 253.

It sure was a fun race, but it was very hard for a “fun run.” I hope to do it again the next time an event like this is held.