Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Country Music Marathon ~ "Oh, so close, so very close"

The events leading to this marathon were not any different than those leading to any other event.  For the majority of the training period, the plan was followed as written.  Few exceptions were made, but none that would jeopardize the outcome of the marathon.

I have found that the mental preparation for each event is different.  Things come up prior to each event that are unique to that event.  For the 2010 edition of the Country Music Marathon it was not any different.

The weather became an issue the week leading up to the race.  Unlike last year's blistering heat, this year the weatherman predicted rain, storms, winds, possibilities of hail and conditions favorable for tornadoes.  The predictions for time frame varied as do most weather predictions.

Having had a couple of long runs in the rain under my belt, I accepted the fact that the 2010 CMM would be a wet one.  Nothing I could do about it, so I would not worry about it.  I tried to stay focused and positive on the matter at hand.  26.2 miles to the finish line.

At the expo on Thursday I had my IT bands, both of them,  KT Taped.  KT tape is my new best friend.  Love it!  That was about the length of my stay at the expo.  Didn't want to stay long, didn't want to spend to much time here this year, this was part of the plan.

As it has become routine with me, the night prior to the race, I could not sleep well.  It was 1am when I woke up, never to sleep soundly again.  At 4am the alarm went off and I was ready to go.

As usual the first order of business was to take a quick shower to fully wake up.  Having done that, I got the coffee ready and proceeded to get dressed.  Everything went smoothly because, as you know, I had my clothes all layed out on the sofa for the past week.  I was not about to leave anything behind.  Thoroughly stretched and warmed up my muscles before it was time to go.

Left the house at 5:20 and the skies looked dark, not because it was still night but because the storms where over our head.  It rained just a bit on the way downtown but not anything to despair about.

Upon arrival at the starting line, proceeded to line up at the nearest porta-potty.  Lines were not to bad but they were moving slowly.

Several minutes before 7am, the race started.  I guess it started early to get a head jump on the impending storms.  I noticed that the corrals this year were jammed packed with runners.  More so than in previous years.  Went looking for mine.  Number 17.

As we proceeded our way to the starting line, the hit of the corral was my tee.  Or rather the message on the back of my tee.  It seemed like everyone around me, and those around them, wanted to see it, read it and make a comment on it.  This was pretty cool.

And off we went.  Steady and as planned I settled into my pace quickly.  I stayed in the middle of the road as was my strategy to help my ITB issues.  This proved to be more difficult that I had anticipated due to all the walkers taking up the middle of the road.

This year the course seemed more crowded than in years past.  This is my fourth time doing this race.  Twice the half marathon and twice the marathon.  As I figured out later, the chaos at the beginning of the race and the overcrowded field  was due to the multitude of people moving to the front of the pack, the earlier corrals, to try to beat the weather.  There was no control for this, so it was out of control.  I followed the rules and stayed where I belonged.

Next year, I will estimate my time to be faster so I can get an earlier corral.

Up until the split, just past mile 11, the course continued to be very crowded and at times is seemed impossible to stay on pace.  I felt great!  I knew that my training was paying dividends.  But Metro Center was still to come.  I call it the Black Hole of the CMM.  It's long and it's lonely.

Around mile 12 I saw two friends that had come to support those in our HRC team; Shari and Leslie.  What a sight to see.  Their cheering and encouraging words put an extra kick on my step.  Thanks ladies, you are awesome!

The weather had cooperated.  There was even a slight period of time when the sun had come out.  Slight period of time.  As I approached mile 13 the wind started to pick up.  It was very noticeable at mile 15 which came along the banks of the Cumberland River.  Out of Metro Center and around mile 18 the rain started coming down, just minutes later, the bottom fell out.

I am one that believes that everything happens for a reason and that there's a reason for everything that happens.  So, right when things were getting a bit tough, one of my power songs came, automatically, on my MP3... The Eagles, "Get Over It".  WOW.  How weird was that, but how cool.  As I sang along, I noticed, once again, that extra kick on my step.  Time for the last stretch home.  Yes, I was close.

Right past mile 20 we were diverted to the half marathon finish line.  I had no clue this is what had happened, I was just running.  I heard folks saying "it's over, it's over."  This is when my heart sunk and the pain in my gut set in.

How could this be?  So close, so very close.

My Garmin showed a little over 22 miles and 3:43:50 when I crossed the finish line.  The official time shows me with 3:45 minutes but no clue as to the official distance.  By my calculations, had I been able to finish the full marathon I would have done it in 4:26.  My goal was 4:30.  So close, so very close.

Awaiting us at the finish line was the  customary finishers' medal.  I accepted it with grace but felt uncomfortable putting it around my neck.  Pretty sure I thought I didn't deserve it.

To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement.  But, after thinking things through I am glad that the race director and the city officials had our back.  Very glad of that.  Don't want to imagine the alternatives.

So there's always next time!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Home Stretch

According to DailyMile, my online training log, I have logged 583 miles over the past four months. That's a lot of road!  And in a little less than 48 hours, it will all come together at the Country Music Marathon.

Preparation for this year's marathon began much earlier than that.  Actually, it began as I finished last year's.  Well, a couple of weeks after the end of last year's.  As number 16137 crossed the finish line, I remember telling myself "never again, ever".  But here I am today, 12 short months later anticipating the start of a new CMM.

Best piece of advice anyone can give you at this moment is to savor the moment; there's nothing you can do to make a difference in the race now, there's plenty you can do to ruin the race.  I have followed, for the most part, my training plan, deviating only on a couple of instances but nothing that would interfere with progress.

I have pushed, pulled and dragged myself through each mile and I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every step.  I have mostly trained by myself but on a couple of instances I have met up with our running group.  This was special, they're a fantastic, supportive bunch.  Additionally, I have created a sizable on-line support group.  Through Facebook, DailyMile and Twitter, I have found advise and encouragement from sometimes the most unlikely sources.  To all my family and friends... I am indebted to you!

My race number this year will be "17067".  I have a finish goal time in mind but life as I know it will not end if that is not accomplished. I will be very happy if I finish ahead of last year.

My race gear has been ready for three days.  All spread out on the couch.  Each time I get a chance I look at it and take inventory.  My biggest fear is that I will forget something.  A few weeks ago I designed my race day tee shirt.  I ordered it and received it two weeks ago.  I will be wearing this on race day:

According to the National Weather Service... "potential exists for severe storms in Middle Tennessee on Saturday... any storms that develop will have the capability to produce large hail and damaging winds.  There's also a potential for isolated tornadoes...'  GREAT!

This is one element that I can't control so I will not worry about it.  I will take the weather as it comes and run to the best of my ability given the conditions that are given to us.

So, for now it just hurry up and.... wait!  See ya'll at the finish line!
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Last Minute Marathon Tips"

To all my friends running the Country Music Marathon in Nashville this coming Saturday, or any other marathon on any other day... here's some last minute advise you should really look at.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Boston Bound? Congratulations and Good Luck!

In just a few short days, you my friend, will be running in the world's greatest race: The Boston Marathon.  You didn't get there by chance.  You earned your right to be there.  Your determination, perseverance and drive along with your dream, belief and faith were your driving force necessary for you to punch your ticket to Boston.

This to you is your Super Bowl, your World Series, Your World Cup. Your Masters. Your goal may be to pursue a pr, to enjoy the experience or just simply to cross the finish line.  Whatever that may be, I wish you luck.

As you leave for this venture, please take with you the knowledge that you leave behind a mass of supporters and admirers.  We will follow your progress throughout the race and as you cross that finish line rest assured that that roar you hear is us cheering with pride as we celebrate your success.

So, without any further to do... It is my best desire and wish that you find in Boston everything you have been expecting and then a little more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday 35 Mile Bike Ride

A beautiful day for a beautiful ride. Just me, my bike and mother nature.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

When is a Black Toenail not a Black Toenail?

For an endurance athlete, be it a runner, a triathlete or whatever the sport of choice, it's in their nature to push it to the limit and then beyond.  Today just happened to be one of those days.

Today's plan was changed last night. The weather report stated that the rain would come mid morning. So I set myself up for a 4:30 wake up call, 5:15 run time. The way I figured it, the rain would be about here by the time I was finishing my 20 miles. Yeah, slow... I know.

As I left the house, the wind was blowing and the clouds were low, dark and very heavy. You could tell they were loaded. Not a good sign was my first thought. But I got on my car and off to the park I went.

Wasting no time upon arrival, I proceeded with my run. One loop around the park and a couple of miles down the road later the rain came. Not to hard, but it was here and it was early. Oh, well. A run in the rain never hurt anyone

I have been nursing a sore calf from what appeared to be a severe cramp last Saturday.  It was sore but not in pain.  If I changed my stride in any form, I could tell right away because the muscle would let me know.  So, in addition to having to watch for the wet pavement, I had to be extra careful with my calf, did not really want to aggravate the injury this close to marathon day.

I could tell my pace was slower than usual.  If I tried to push it, I could feel it.

So off and on the rain kept coming.  Nothing really bad, just annoying.  That is until the bottom fell off.  It rained so hard for about five minutes that the rain was hurting as it hit my body.  I had no where to take shelter so I just kept on going.

By this point it was just about survival.  The last six miles of the run were an adventure, to say the least.  Every stitch of clothing was wet, heavy wet.  It was like carrying an extra twenty pounds with you.  The shoes, but specially the socks were soaked.  (Note to self:  gotta get some good wicking socks).  My Garmin had condensation build up.  Couldn't see out of my glasses.  I was cold and seriously hoping that one day I would be able to warm up again.

But as the miles kept coming I was determined to finish strong.  My plan today was to run one mile and walk (fast walk) one tenth of a mile.  I would use this time to reload, refuel, recup.  I stuck to this plan to the end.

So, when is a black toenail not a black toenail?  I tell you.

When I got home and took of my shoes, I saw a very disturbing sight:  A red (blood) ring on my left sock.  Weird, I remember thinking.  So, I took of my sock and my second toe was covered in blood.  No pain, just blood.  My toenail was not black any longer!  So I guess the blood blister that was making my toenail black was no longer a blister which made it no longer a black toenail.  Usually, black toenails grow out, this was a first for me.

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