Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back on the Road Again

My recovery is officially complete....and I managed to get a few good runs in during the down time!

I wasn't quite sure when to start running again after Chicago on 10-10-10, but by 10-14-10 I was sooo ready to hit the pavement again. I did a nice 4 miler....and honestly, it felt like 14. My knees and feet were barkin, big time. I hit the pavement again on the following a nice 6.5 in. It felt great....still not 100% good to go, but I was well on my way.

On the following Monday I started back in the gym and back on the weights. This week I started working out with a fellow Gold's Gym morning regular. He's a cool guy and an Army Vet....we seem to be a good mix. We are going to rotate our strength training plans every other week or so. He's going to help me stick with a toning plan (lighter weights/higher reps) since I always want to lift heavy...and I'm going to help us pack on more muscle (higher weights/lower reps).

On Monday we hit BIG chest and followed it up with a 5 mile treadmill run. On Tuesday we did the standard 7 mile run and then hit abs. Wednesday was a no run day and instead we just hit back and lats really hard. On Thursday we did sprint intervals that felt fan-frickin-tastic. Then we followed it up with some legs and abs....YEAH! It had been looong time since I hit legs... On Friday we hit arms and shoulders and then we knocked out a quick 5 miles on the treadmill. I took Saturday off and then hit today with a nice 8.11 mile run in 1:06, 8:10 pace.....YEAH!!! Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta......or something like that.

It sure felt good to be back on the road again....felt even better to get the lead out with a tough hilly run. AND...I did it in my new Chicago Marathon participant shirt!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to continue to hit the weights hard over the next several months. I'll also be doing some shorter races (5Ks) and then I'll start training for half-marathon season in the spring. I'll be posting my 2011 race calendar be ready loyal Ginnis readers!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm a Marathon Man

It's official folks....I'm a marathon man!!! Do you believe that??? Who would have thought that I could run 26.2 freaking miles??? Just over 2 years ago I weighed around 270lbs, I hated my life, hated my body, and I wasn't motivated to do a thing about it. I never would have dreamed of being able to run for 4 and a half hours......but, YEAH....I DID IT!!! All of that training, all of that suffering, all of those early morning miles....I MADE IT HAPPEN!!

Traci and I arrived in the city at around 2:00pm or so on Saturday. We had no problems at all getting to the expo. It was totally cool.....MUCH different from the Illinois Marathon expo. There was a lot of free stuff and a ton of really cool stuff. I got checked in, picked up my packet, bought some more Gu and some throw-away gloves (that I totally didn't need), and then we browsed the expo a bit. But...not too much, cause my dogs needed to rest!

After some quick lodging adjustments, we ended up at our final destination for the evening. I ordered some plain spaghetti and washed it down with a tasty beverage (Gatorade). I called it a night pretty stinkin early.

I woke up just before 4am to the sound of sirens (a constant sound throughout the night) and I decided it was a good time to get things moving. I ate half of a bagel, took a nice warm shower, and then downed a tasty endurance shake with a bit of coffee......yummy!! Traci and I were out of the door by 6:00am and we made it to the race area with plenty of time to spare. The weather was perfect...nice and cool, probably around the upper 50s, maybe lower 60s. We said our goodbyes and goodlucks at the gate and then we went our own ways - me to torture town and her to McDonald's for some pre-race observer fuel. :)

Pre-race photo op!! A little blurry due to my pre-race jitters.

After finding my spot in the open corral area with the 4:00 hour pace team, I was ready to go. I waited it out with the 45,000+ other runners just trying to take it all on. Still not sure what to expect along my 26.2 mile journey, but excited to test myself. At around 7:30am the race started....I crossed the start line about 13 minutes later. I was expecting to be in the line for over 30 minutes, so I was pleasantly pleased with the minimal corral time.

And we were off! (this is actually at the 2 mile mark, but my photo crew couldn't be at the start line)

I have to admit...the first 3 miles were kind of a mess. TONS of people, including about 10,000 people that overestimated their speed and quickly became obstacles for the pace groups. There were also lots of people cheering and waving...and just plain goofing off. In fact, one girl took a hard spill almost immediately after crossing the start line because she wasn't paying attention. Lesson learned, I hope.

So, the first several miles were a blur. I had a few issues that popped up immediately....minor side stitch and some odd foot pain that I couldn't figure out. But, I pressed on and the side stitch went away....the foot pain remained, but it wasn't really an issue. I was feeling it....I was slightly ahead of schedule at every mile mark....thanks to my cool pace tat.

I had my first Gu at mile 5, took a quick treeline potty break at around mile 6, and at around mile 7 that stinkin side stitch came back again. This time it was a bit more serious. I tried to adjust my breathing, slow my pace down a bit, and try to hold my arms over my head. It finally went away....and it didn't manage to slow me down too much. In fact, I hit the halfway mark right on schedule. I remember thinking, YEAH, I'm going to do this thing in 4 hours!! And then....

It seems like every running issue that I've dealt with over the past year or so came back on Sunday. The side stitch came back hardcore, my IT band flared up, and my feet/toes were hurting.....and the temperature continued to rise. I think I heard that it ended up being as high as 89 degrees. It was painful....but not as painful as watching my pace get slower and knowing that my goal of finishing in under 4 hours was gradually fading away.

Before I knew it, I was severely dehydrated...even though I drank at every water stop. I did Gatorade and water...made sure I got some decent gulps in at every stop...but, it wasn't enough. And my pace continued to drop. I'm not sure exactly at what point I knew that I had to adjust my goals, but the realty eventually set in. I remember thinking to myself, 'Okay, it's not that bad...just remember, your first goal was to finish the damn thing'. So that's what I focused on...finishing.

As the miles went on, I seriously wondered how I was going to even finish. I very clearly remember thinking that there was no way....there was no way I was going to make this one happen. My side stitch was about to make me hurl, I had nearly stopped sweating from being so dehydrated, and my IT Band was bringing me to a limp. In between mile 17-18 I found a bit of joy....a running buddy and her husband were cheering me on!!! She even ran out to give me a fist was exactly what I needed....I drove on...for a bit.

After I hit mile 18 I realized that I still had 8.2 miles to body was telling me to walk or die, but my heart was telling me to think about the moment. The's where you live at mile 18 when you have nothing left to give...the moment where you decide to give up and walk, or dig deep...REAL DEEP and push through. I was slow folks,...but I wasn't going to walk. I knew that I would never forgive myself. So I pressed on.

One of my other running buddies and I were talking during one of our weekly morning runs about a race day mantra....something to keep playing in your head to keep you going. My mantra has always been, 'Make it happen'. But, at 18.5 miles, I changed it. I kept saying to myself,

'Feet, just get me to mile 20...and let God do the rest'.

That's exactly what happened. Those last 6.2 miles were brutal...absolutely brutal. To this day, I have no idea how I did...I have NO idea how I kept running....I just did. It really seemed like the last 5 miles lasted an eternity. I didn't want to look at my watch or at the mile markers....I just looked ahead, gazing into the crowd....hoping to see a finish line.

Finally, I looked up and saw a sign that said 800 meters to go...then 400 meters, then I saw it. It was glorious. The final turn...the final hill. I very clearly remember thinking, what idiot designed this course so that the final stretch involved a freaking hill?? But, somehow, someway....I found my feet again on the hill. I finished hard, all the way to the FINISH LINE.

Ahhh.....I'm a marathon man.

I couldn't have made it happen without the support from so many people. Training for a marathon really takes a team - of people that may not understand why you do it, but are there to pick you up anyway. Thanks to all of you that have inspired me, picked me up when I needed it, ran with me, laughed with me, gave me chocolate milk, made me ice baths, finished my long runs with me in the pouring rain, sang songs with me during 5:15AM runs, shared SitReps with me, motivated me, and had an extreme amount of patience with me. A very special thank you to my wonderful family...I know I had to be away from you every weekend for the past 18 weeks....thanks for understanding and for supporting my crazy bucket list. I dedicate my finisher's medal to all of you - I wouldn't be a marathon man without you.

Here's to asking your legs to get you to 20 and letting God do the rest. Here's to making it happen and here's to Running on Ginnis!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Week

One Week....that's what stands between this moment and the most difficult running journey of my entire life. 26.2. 26.2. I see those numbers in everything....they haven't left my mind for several days now. 18 long weeks ago I started to train for this thing...and now I'm one week away from making it happen. Training is the challenge....the race is the reward. YEAH.

Since my last 2o miler, I've had some really solid runs. My long run that followed the 20 miler was absolutely outstanding. I did 13.25 at an 8:30 pace.....had a GREAT 13.1 time. The run felt perfect. I had some good runs during the week and then yesterday I capped off my weekend training runs with a decent 8 miler. I had intended to do a rehearsal run, sticking with marathon pace, but I ended up going just a little bit faster.....because I was cooold yo!

This coming week should be interesting. I have to admit, this tapering business ain't easy. I don't like not being able to run my standard mileage....especially when I want to continue to eat like I have been. I know I shouldn't be worried about gaining weight, but I am worried about overeating!! I just keep telling myself that after the race I'll get back to my normal fitness and nutrition routines.

I almost have my running gear ready to shoes-check, new socks-check, shorts-check, gel-check, official Chicago Marathon running shirt......on its way!!