Tuesday, September 27, 2011

QC Marathon - A Journey Like No Other

Sunday was my big day. A countdown that started 111 days prior when I finally made the decision to tackle a marathon. It was weird thinking that it was finally here. My day had arrived. It was time to face the challenge and accomplish my goal.

The weekend started off great with a great pasta dinner and speakers. I wore my Live Uncommon shirt and sat with some other Live Uncommon members who are very inspirational with their stories. Jane and Kenny Wheeler, Jen and Jeff Paul, Josiah Campbell, Nick Sacco, and Erin Flynn. This is an unbelievable group of people to sit with. Michele Russell did a great job with her presentation despite being nervous! She really highlighted the essence of what Live Uncommon stands for and I have no doubt that after this weekend there will be more members to this great cause. Talking about Jen Paul really captured the true meaning of what it means to Live Uncommon.

Bart Yasso was one of the speakers. He provided plenty of laughs and some great stories about his running all over the world. It was a nice dose of humor and insight before my big race. I stuck around, bought his last book, and snapped a picture. Why not? You only live once!

That night I gathered all my gear. I was scattered as I was not sure what to pack. I decided to run with my belt as that is how I had always trained. I packed some extra GU gels(later, these extra ones tore my stomach up) as I was not sure what I would need. I had my gear ready to go and around 9:00 I crashed. I spent so much time with nerves that the body shut down. Amanda and kids came home around 9:30 so I got up to help get them to bed and we then spent the night waking up about every 45-60 minutes to Ava. She just could not get to sleep.

Finally, 3:30 arrived. My alarm went off. I fell back asleep and at 4:15 got up. I ate some breakfast(french toast and turkey sausage), drank some coffee, and began to hydrate with Gatorade. Around 6:00 I head out to the race. I like to be early. 6:15 I sat in the back of my car and prepped. I drank my Generation UCAN pre race drink, assembled my bib, my shirt, and loaded up. I ran into Erin Flynn and Katie Gaffney inside one of the buildings as we tried to stay warm before the race. It was cold. I wanted it cold knowing that it would warm up later(however, I gauged the temperature increase wrong).
Breakfast of champions

The race began at 7:30 and away we went. It took about 4 minutes to get to the starting line. The initial few miles were slow as the I-74 bridge was crammed with people and there was nowhere to go unless you wanted to risk getting hit by a car. In hindsight this was probably good as I was loaded with adrenaline. To be honest I don't remember the first few miles. It seems like a blur.

I felt great. My body was just gliding along and things felt good. We got down to the bike path in Bettendorf/Davenport and things slowly started to open up. I saw Tritt around mile 6 and it was great to see so many people out there cheering everyone on. Seeing people is such a huge inspiration to keep pushing. Only in marathon do you see things you don't see anywhere else. Around mile 4 I noticed a lady that had pooped her pants. Her shorts were a mess and she was out running right along. I hope she was not running 26 miles, but only the half because that would make for a long run. Only in a marathon do you see a sign for LUBE with people having lube on sticks to help out the runners. Crazy stuff. Things you don't see everyday for sure.

Just prior to the Centennial Bridge I met up with Josiah Campbell who I met prior at the pasta dinner. We both had a goal of running under 4 hours. We ended up running about 10 miles of the race together. Without Live Uncommon I never would have met this guy who has really changed his life and fitness. It was great to run with someone. I started to struggle around mile 10-12 as my groin and right leg started to tighten up. I knew that I could not stop from that point as I knew my leg would lock up.

Up to this point I was feeling great besides the leg feeling tight. I took a GU around mile 15 and felt great. So great that I took off from Josiah(not being rude or anything), but thinking I could pick up the pace and finish under my time. This was not the greatest idea as I hit a wall later, but I did meet up with him at the end to finish with him. He stayed the course and caught up to me. It was around mile 14-15 that it started to rain. It was cold. I was already cold, but the rain just made it worse. It is not everyday you run this long and feel cold. Needless to say that the rain allowed me to experience the joys of blisters like I have not experienced before. One formed and popped on my middle toe and later another formed on the same toe under my toenail. What fun! It felt like my toe grew another knuckle on the run. I just kept pushing because I knew my wife and kids were over the bridge. I just had to get to the bridge.

I continued to feel pretty good up to mile 20 I knew I had Amanda, Aiden, Addy, and Ava all waiting for me. I kept thinking about seeing them after the bridge and that kept me going. I descended the bridge and there was Amanda telling me to keep going(her coaching spirit was back despite not coaching for several years). Jeff Paul was also there and he kept me going by riding his bike and rooting me on and all the other runners the final six miles. I needed his words of inspiration and knowing I would get to see Amanda and the kids again right before crossing the finish line. When you see your family it provides such an adrenaline surge. I felt great through mile 21. It was at this point that things got tough. My legs felt numb and non existent. My started to play mind games.

I kept pushing. I ran to the wall that was labeled as 3 more miles to go. I knew I had this race....and then I continued to run and noticed mile marker 23 which meant I had 3.2 miles left. The wall and this mile marker just destroyed my thought process. That wall created a wall in my mind. I started to cramp the last two miles and caught a side ache. This was probably due to consuming too many GU's at the end. I had one at mile 19, 22, and 24. My body was flooded with too much and I had to head home once I finished as I was not feeling the greatest. Josiah caught up about the last 1.5 miles and we ran it in together helping each other finish strong. Seeing my family again was awesome! Jeff was amazing at helping me to push to the finish. Finally, we saw the finish line and we knew we made our goal. We not only ran 26.2 miles, but did it under 4 hours.

I don't think I can put into words how great of a feeling it was knowing that prior to hitting that finish line that I accomplished my goals. Words cannot describe that feeling. There is something to be said about training and seeing the return. It still has not quite sunk in with what I accomplished. I find myself smiling off and on thinking back on the race.

It took me some time to warm my body up. I had to take a hot shower and bundle up with sweatshirts and the blankets to finally stop feeling so cold. I had purple toes and lungs still burn when I take a deep breath. Burning up 4500 calories during the run wears the body down. I ate and ate and ate once my stomach calmed down.

What is even cooler is how great everyone else did. Yes, I am proud of myself, but I find it so cool to see all the people I have met on the journey and through Live Uncommon achieve their goals. Jen Paul placed 2nd for women's in the half marathon running 1:21(she also performed an even greater feat of sticking around waiting for the runners at the finish line to congratulate them in the cold and rain(I did not see too many other "elite" runners hanging around).....do Jen and Jeff get any more amazing!!!), Jane Wheeler crushed her best time to set a new PR by 30 seconds running 1:27, Gaffney ran 1:38 which was not what she wanted, but is still an amazing time. The Live Uncommon relay team took first place. Josiah and I reached our goals. Nick Sacco crushed his PR and ran 3:33. It is great to see so many people break and crush their limits and expectations.

Already I am thinking, "Can I run it faster?" Yes, my mind is already pondering the next goal in my life. I am not sure what I want to pursue, but I will dial in something as I take a few days to rest.

Here are my official results.
10K Rate: 57:00 - 9:11 pace
Half Marathon Rate: 1:58 - 9:03 pace
20 Rate: 2:59 - 8:58 pace
Last 10K Rate: 55:10

Finishing Time: 3:54:22 for a 8:57 pace. I burned 4500 calories and
24/43 in my division of 30-34 males
218/656 marathon finishers

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