Monthly Archives: April 2011

Tricks of the Trade

So after a week of recovery that included a few days of walking around on some tired and extremely stiff legs, and getting refocused on things at home / work….I find myself quickly starting to question…”Now What”.  I mean, it’s not like I don’t have anything going on….actually, this past weekend while many were preparing for the Easter Bunny our staff pushed the pace a bit and worked to get BaseCamp 31, our new building, ready so that our PACER Team  could officially start their 2011 journey.  And with a weekend full of activities that includes back-to-back event days falling on either side of our season kick-off party, a trip to Utah to cheer on as one of our claims his stake as an Ironman in a week, and a “RunaMuck” around the corner….I think I’ve got enough to keep me busy.

But until then, we’ve got some first timers getting ready to participate in some races this weekend, so for those readers maybe catching the bug and looking for a way to get “Fit 2 Be (a)Live”…here’s a few tips to consider when gearing up for your first half marathon:

1.  Stages of the Endurance Athlete’s Emotional Cycle:

a.       “Can I really do this?” (first look at training schedule)

b.       “Wow this is hard?” (first 5+ mile run)

c.       “Wait a minute…maybe I can really do this” (first 8+ mile run)

d.       “Crap – even though I can probably do it – running for this long still sorta sucks….I’m sore / in pain…but too far in at this point to turn back….am I pushing too hard….am I going to get hurt?”

e.       “Maybe I should take a week off to recover…but will that screw up my training or fitness?”

f.         3-4 weeks out – “Ok finally starting to feel better…..stretching, advil, & icing really does work…therapist / doctors actually do know what they’re talking about…I’ll take my next run slow…listen to what my body is telling me…get advice from professionals as soon as I need it…and finish this training strong”

g.       3 weeks out – “Holy Crap – I can’t believe I just ran13 miles”

h.       2 weeks out….”oh the joys of beginning to taper my training”

i.         1 week out….”shouldn’t I be running more?”

j.         Race Day….”are you kidding me?”

k.       Post Race….”I am a awesome!”

2.  Wow – HYDRATION does really play a big role (FYI you should be drinking a sports drink or taking in some sort of carbohydrates, sodium, & potassium for any training over 60 minutes long).  4-6oz. every 15 minutes is recommended to stay hydrated.

3.  Gel-Packs or Gu’s– taste like crap but work wonders out on the course….take every 30-40 minutes for a spike in energy.  When you body has nothing left in the tank…it starts burning itself.  Make sure you try prior to race day incase it upsets your stomach

4.  Carb-loading & Pre-Race Meals– pretty good if you can commit to eating for three days as though it were sport (let me know if you want more details)….otherwise not all it’s cracked up to be…probably most important to eat something easy on the stomach and well-balanced the night before a race…stay away from creamy, high fiber, or other things that may have an adverse effect on your digestive system.  Stay away from alcohols or things that can dehydrate you.

5.  Race Day – What to Wear / Bring 

    1. a comfortable light fitting, “whicking” shirt
    2. Shorts (running in pants gets really hot over long distances)
    3. Sunglasses – nothing worse than sweat & sun in your eyes – just got a new pair of bole, polarized, and water resistant for only $130…totally worth it!
    4. Bandaids – sounds stupid but (for men especially) you’ll never feel such pain as chaffed nipples in the shower following a long run
    5. Petroleum Jelly / Vasoline – in those areas that tend to rub (underarms and inner thighs especially)….again sounds stupid…but the post race shower will be miserable without it
    6. Ipod – your call, but I enjoy it…of course that was before I threw it across Boylston street in Boston en route to the finish line.
    7. Gum – (nothing worse than not having a water stop near by and having dry mouth….I chew the entire time….bring multiple pieces).

6.  Pre-Race Morning – eat carb-rich & balanced “light meal”…bagel with peanut-butter, power bar, banana are some of my favorites.  I usually enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning (pretty interesting recent studies regarding caffeine and performance benefits).  Hydrate as soon as you wake up in the morning….I prefer a sports drink to top off the electrolyte stores prior to excessive sweating and sodium loss.….When arriving at race site (if large race) consider getting on line for port-a-john….have drink in hand and keep hydrating…do your thing…and get back on line….repeat until 10 minutes before race……

7.  Warm-Up – about 20 minutes prior to race start do a light jog and try and break a sweat.  Consider adding some light stretching…nothing more than about 7 seconds / stretch tops…..Take your water bottle and get in the corral at the with only a few minutes to spare.  About 2 minutes prior to start…down a gu-pack to top off the glycogen stores (we can talk more about this in another post if your interested….post a comment and let me know if it’s something of interest).

8.  Race Strategy – if this is your first event…time should not be your main motivator…but regardless…have a strategy.  My strategy has always been to run just slower than my target pace in the beginning of races, and do my best to gradually get stronger, prior to emptying the tank at when nearing the finish…I’ve been know to cheer for others along the way to lift up my own spirits….or even talk / yell at myself all the way across the finish…but of course, I can be a bit of a head case…so do whatever works for you.  Please be cautious NOT to get caught up in the hype in the first few miles….it’s much better to be passing people at the end than at the beginning (take it from me, I’ve done both…and the latter is much tougher mentally and just adds to the drain).

9.  Post Race – can you believe we’re actually talking about post race?…Awesome!  Hydrate, stretch & eat some sort of protein & carb as soon as possible (within first 30 minutes)…you’ve just beaten the hell out of your body…it’s craving fuel to help it repair…ice…then have a big fat steak or some equivalent, and then dessert….you’ve earned it!

10.  Day after….”what the hell was I thinking…oh yeah – I’m awesome…..when can I do it again”

Good Luck to those racing this weekend!…I might just jump in one myself!

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Boston, You Make My Heart Sing – 2011 Boston Marathon Recap

After running amongst 25,000 of the Worlds fastest runners, with another 500,000 or so people cheering from the sidelines, I now know there’s a reason the Boston Marathon is THE marathon…it was an experience I surely won’t soon forget…that is of course (2 days later), if I can totally clear my head and remember….here we go…the marathon of all blogs (you may want to grab some gatorade to get through this one)!

If you’ve been reading along and following my blog, you’ve read some stories from the past few months of my training…you’ve read along and discovered what drives me, and hopefully have been encouraged to find what drives you and take some action to obtain whatever it is you seek.  You know where I stand when it comes to health and fitness, and why I believe one must be “Fit to be Live” (as in vibrant and full of energy)…or expanded one step further…ALIVE…..and if you made it all the way to last week….you understand that I’ve learned some very important lessons along my journey to this point….and maybe most importantly, that peak performance relies equally on mental strength and endurance as it does physical prowess…..and that my friends….a lesson in the balance of mental and physical strength and toughness is what the 26.2 miles through the towns surrounding Boston and down Boylston Street hammered home…..enjoy my Boston Marathon weekend recap below:

When Friday evening finally arrived, and my work week was officially behind me, it was time to really focus on preparation…..eating or “Fueling” had become a sport as I was attempting to truly carbo-load and consume approximately 5 grams of Carbohydrate / lb. of body weight…or near 750 grams of carbohydrate (please NEVER do this unless you too are training for a serious endurance event).  It was ridiculous…I felt like I was stuffing myself, and with plenty of the things I’d normally recommend limiting to someone looking to say fit (plenty of refined carbs, pizza, juices and gatorades)…in this very rare instance, the more carbs the better.  I went to sleep full to the brim, and woke up the next morning feeling the same.

When we arrived in Boston on Saturday the first thing I wanted to do was drive the dreaded “Newton Hills”…a series of 3 hills (so I thought..more on that in a bit) that stretch from mile 17 through 21, to see just how dreaded they were.  And after going up them in a car…I wasn’t scared…but not to worry…they didn’t disappoint!

After sitting in Fenway park traffic (damn Red Sox) we finally made it to the expo and I was back to fueling…except this time my wife Amy and I got to sample every energy bar, gel, drink, or any other running-guru product our hearts desired at this legendary pre-race tradition.  This was an event unto itself….I got my calves (reluctantly) massaged, I tried on compression gear that had built in compartments for icing, kicked in my fair share of the $35 million dollars that this weekends events brought to Boston, and even met one of my idols, Dick Hoyt.  If you’re not familiar with Dick and his son Rick’s story…you’ve got to see their video at  http://www.teamhoyt.com/.  What an amazing inspiration!

(side note, when I met Dick and asked him if he was ready for the race he calmly stated “No, I tore my hamstring a month ago and have a partial tear in my meniscus…I’ve only done two 5k’s (3.1 miles) to prepare for this race (26.2 miles)…..but after 30 years of doing this, I think I’ve got a decent base!”)

Me and Dick Hoyt

And after we’d spent enough time (and more than enough money), Amy and I decided to walk the finish line…I wanted to see and cross the finish first hand so I could envision a successful event 48 hours prior to actuality…and looking back, it was a good thing I did.

Sunday came, and I had finally decided my race strategy (better late then never I guess) and was ready to calculate my splits….I was going to go for it and do my best to break the 3 hour mark….this was my life-time running goal…something I hadn’t yet totally prepared for physically or mentally….but having had the benefit of an incredible support network back home (16 of whom made the trek to support me) that included an amazingly passionate “family” (both blood related all those members of the greater Pro-Activity family), a team of colleagues that include physical therapists and trainers who know a thing or two about running, and a few local elite runners (Julie Culley & Frances Koons) that I had the humbling pleasure to train with a few times….I started questioning just how much capacity I had….and even started believing that it MIGHT be possible…and with that (and another helpful push from more stringent qualifying standards for next year’s race)…I decided I was going to go out and get up to speed fast, and try like hell to hang on.

(An aggressive strategy…7:00 min @ mile 1, 6:50’s x 2 miles, then 6:40’s through mile 16, 7:20’s through the Netwon Hills, and 6:50’s through the finish)

In retrospect, I think it took me so long to come to this goal because, in full disclosure, I was afraid of failure….God forbid I expose myself a bit for the world to see….but this single act, to state publicly (or at least to some closest to me) and get out of my comfort zone, that I was going to go for it…has proven to be the best lesson I could have learned…..so after a night of tossing and turning, on a stomach filled with pasta….I awoke (at 5:30a for a 10:00a race), ready to stare Boston in the face, and give it all I had…

After I choked down a half bagel (still full from the carbo loading), some gatorade, and nibbled on a powerbar…I along with other race participants staying at our hotel were shuttled to “Athletes Village” at Hopkinton High School, where we would sit for 2 hours prior to being corralled into the starting gates by estimated finish time…and interestingly, with all these phenomenal runners around, I couldn’t help but feel homeless as we huddled together to stay warm wearing trash bags and sitting on old newspapers to keep our rear-ends dry (see picture)

Athletes Village....a home for "homeless" runners pre-Boston Marathon

At 9:15a, (after plenty hydrating and subsequent porta-john visits)….my “wave” was called…it was an honor to be in the first “wave” of runners amongst the fastest, and having the opportunity to start just a few minutes behind the Elite’s that included last year’s winner Robert Cheruiyot (Kenya), American record-holder Ryan Hall, and this year’s winner (who happened to run the world’s fastest marathon time ever recorded) Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya).  And at 10:00am, after the national anthem and a last second prayer…I was off!

Tight out of the gates....I did a lot of lateral movement and could only get up to a 7:15 pace in the first mile

Experts say to take it easy on the quick descent out of Hopkinton and save your quads for later in the race…I did my best to listen (as I sit here with heat packs on my quads to loosen and then stretch), and the crowds kept me a little slower than I would have liked….after mile 1 I was already about 15 seconds behind where I wanted to be…..thankfully things started to spread out, and I was able to begin making up some ground by quickly moving my pace to a 6:45 / mile, and finished my first 5k only 12 seconds behind my target.

At that point, I really started to hit my groove, and the next 4 miles seemed to fly by…I’d look down at my Garmin GPS watch and I’d find myself zipping up and down the hills averaging around a 6:35 pace and feeling amazing…..I’d be slapping high fives with little kids along the way…..and by the 10k (6.2 miles) point I cautiously started to get optimistic….maybe I could actually do this…

Another 1/2 mile passed and I was feeling great physically.  I couldn’t believe that my fitness was at a point where I could run a 6:30-6:40 mile consistently after 6 miles in the books and not be gasping for air….and just when I started to lose focus a bit…I caught a glimpse of my Mom and cheering contingent out of the corner of my eye….and another 200 meters up….I heard the familiar bellow of my Dad….(at one point his big mouth, “squeeze” chants, and rebel yells were literally legendary amongst NJ wrestling…kid you not)!  And just when I needed…my brother Greg jumped on the course with me….

Almost Missed Them...but these Loudmouths could Scream!

Greg was great…he’s this positive guy who knows just who he is, and isn’t afraid to stand for what’s important to him (thankfully in this case that was me)…and although none of us Eisenhart men stand with tremendous stature…..Greg had no problem pushing his way through runners who were elbow to elbow, just to clear a path for me!  Thanks Greg…you are truly one of a kind!

At about the 15k point (9.3 miles) I was cruising…feeling great, and gaining confidence….the hills kept rolling, but so did I…6:45, 6:40, 6:35, 6:30 and at this point I was under target pace and averaging a 6:48 mile!  I kept rolling, uplifted as I went by the sight of family and friends…even had the energy to blow a kiss to my wife (what a cheeseball I can be)!

My Family Keeps Me Pushing

As I closed in on the half way mark, I began realizing that I was about to PR (personal record) my half-marathon distance by a substantial amount…and while the infamous Wellesley girls were most definitely loud around mile 13-14, I can’t say it was them that got me across 13.1 at 1:29:03 (39 seconds faster than my previous PR in VA Beach this past September)!  But shortly thereafter….reality set in…..I had to repeat the effort I just put in, and still get through the hills (side-note…..why do people make so much of the “Newton Hills”….the whole damn course is up and down hills).

The next few miles were a bit of a blur…I remember coming through a few towns…and the support on the course from the locals and other spectators was phenomenal…but I just kept focusing on “the hills”, which I expected to start at mile 17 just after turning into Newton.  I knew I was still on pace to finish sub 3 hrs. but I’d have to average 7:20’s through the hills….and then to my surprise…”the hills” seemed to start at mile 16 and my right quad was starting to let me know and talk back to my brain and the slight confidence it possessed.

And then, like clock-work one of my biggest cheerleaders popped out of nowhere….ever see the movie Rudy where the guy says “you’re 5 foot nothing…100 and nothing….”…well that’s my sister Amy….but like Rudy….she’s got enough heart for an army…and she got me up that unexpected hill and kept me in check.

Enter Newton, the dreaded terrain, the true “race”…I knew I couldn’t do it alone…if at all….and I was starting to fatigue big time.  I needed to average 7:20’s through the hills to have a chance at sub 3…and if there was one person who is tough enough, stubborn enough…and inspiring enough to help me through…it’s my brother Mike (an Ironman in training who ran a 10 mile PR just the day before).  Mike picked me up around mile 17, and the plan was to take me through mile 21, leaving me at Boston College for a final cheer from my Loudmouths and push to the city.

The true race begins at mile 17!

Through the Newton hills Mike was an absolute machine…having just finished a race the day before…and running at a pace likely a shade faster than his norm…he kept me moving….when the wind blew in my face, he jumped out ahead and tried his best to “get big” and allow me to draft (not that easy for a guy who’s been shedding weight due to Ironman training)….when I needed fluid / fuel…he ran ahead to the water / gatorade stop…gave me one and carried another just in case….when I thought I had nothing left climbing hill two of three (just before heartbreak hill)….he screamed at the crowd….he announced our precense!  “THIS IS ERIC, THIS IS ERIC…FIRST TIME BOSTON MARATHON….GO ERIC!”, he yelled to the crowd and got them to return!  And he did this while climbing up the hills with me at about a 7:35 pace, and down sub 6:30.  Mike was strong, but my tank was running close to empty…and my calves started to feel as though they were literally boiling…the strangest cramping sensation I’ve ever had….and then there it was….mile 20 and HEARTBREAK Hill!

I don’t remember a ton about this part of the race…I couldn’t look up to the top for fear of what it might do to my head…I just wanted to get through it…for it to be over…..Mike continued to build me up….and as we crested the most famous hill in all of marathons….my mental strength started to waver.  I decided at that point I had to stretch, concerned that if I didn’t, my calves may lock-up and not let me finish…that, and mentally I was not prepared to push through another 5 miles….what would turn out to be the longest 5 miles of my life.

As the next half mile slowly ticked by…all I could think about was “it’s only a 5 mile loop”….you see, growing up my Dad would run this 5 mile loop course around our house….it has since become a staple of my training routes.  But as I did my best to talk myself up to where I needed to be to break the 3 hour mark (about 6:40 from here on out)….my body would not agree as my calves and quads continued to “boil” with cramping…and my mind even less…..At this point I knew sub 3 hours was out of the question….and I immediately shifted my focus to my original goal…sub 3:05 (a 5 minute PR).  Mike encouraged, and pushed me….”Where do you want to be from here on out?”….and in between breaths…I told him 7:03’s….as this would ensure I’d break 3:05.

Things are still a little cloudy from this point and I was struggling to maintain a 7 minute pace on as we strolled down Beacon street into Boston…..I so desperately wanted to just stop.  I could see the famous Citgo Sign oustide of Fenway park…I knew I was close…but still it seemed so far away.  And with only one mile left, just before the final two turns onto Boylston street….with my brother hollering, blocking the wind, encouraging me….for a brief 20 seconds….I stopped to stretch AGAIN.

If you would have told me that I would not have the mental strength to push myself non-stop through the last mile, I would have never believed you….but in that moment (and looking back)….it was the most risky…yet likely rewarding move I made in the race.  Stopping too long would assuredly make me miss the 3:05 mark…but not stretching at all or collecting my head would likely have kept me from my final push.

Mike told me last night that my final kick was impressive…that we passed at least a hundred people in the final turn onto Boylston street….I remember seeing the finish…seeing all the faces in the crowd…but couldn’t hear them as my head was 100% filled with the finish line….I remember desperately trying to repeat an uplifting song on my ipod (consequently causing me to “donate” my ipod to Boston as it flew from my hand)….I remember passing a runner as he looked back to help another…but don’t remember “the other” who had just fallen face first only a few yards from the finish…….I remember completely emptying the tank….leaving it all out there and pushing the last 100 yards to the finish…I remember Mike telling me to hold my hands high and be proud…I remember giving thanks to God for helping me get through it, and for all the people both in Boston and back home who were routing and supporting me….I remember stopping my watch as I crossed the finish with a 3:04:45 PR!  I remember giving Mike a hug and thanking him…he’ll probably never know just how much he did for me in this race…but I know I wouldn’t have made it without him.  I remember stumbling through the gates pleased with my PR and my most recent running accomplishment.  But, like you might expect if you know me at all… having now learned that I can in fact break the 3 hour mark with the proper balance of mental & physical endurance…..I’m not yet satisfied!  See you at Marine Corps!!!

The Final Push, .2 miles at 5:15 pace to PR!

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Go To Your Happy Place

So here it is, staring me in the face….the culmination of 16 months of training…less than a week now till my trek through “Beantown” (115th Running of Boston Marathon) and all that’s left is to get my mind as prepared as my body is.  I’m in the thick of tapering….a one to two week period where you drastically cut your training volume back to allow your body to fully recover from the trauma and stress that training can place on your system.  And now it’s time to really hone my focus on my race day strategy and mental approach (actually I should have probably been doing this for the past month or so)

***side note – not all “trauma / stress” is a bad thing…..I use these terms loosely….but in fact without external stressors on the system…our bodies’ can’t adapt and increase capacity….and without continually alternating different types of stress and recovery, we can’t continue to progress (read more about the principle of adaptation, and the overload principle)..another blog, another time***

It’s funny, so many (maybe all) of the keys to success in life’s challenges (both those we bring on ourself and those that are brought on us) lie between our ears.  I find it’s often at least as much a game of confidence as it is a game of skill, physical prowess, and endurance.  It’s our confidence and mental state that allows us to believe we CAN do it, and that pushing through short term or temporary “pain’ IS WORTH IT!

So it’s that time…I need to (in the words of a wise man named “Chubb’s” from a true American classic, “Happy Gilmore”) go to my “Happy Place” and get my head focused on the task ahead.  

I’m not quite in my happy place yet…and I’m still contemplating final race strategy to PR (my first goal is sub 3:10), reach my stretch goal (sub 3:05), and possibly….if the stars align and I can pull from all the strength of those supporting me in this effort (you who can make it, those reading this, and those following from home)….maybe, just maybe, I can reach my lifetime running goal of breaking the 3 hour mark.

So do I stay conservative out front and finish strong….or go hard out of the gates, put the pedal down and try and hang on……more reflection…more thought….more mental preparation….my body’s ready….my confidence is getting there….I’m almost in my “happy place”…stay tuned…should be a wild ride.  Wish me luck, say a prayer…and I’ll be sure to  capture some stories and bring back to share!

p.s. If you are interested in following my progress and getting text message updates of how I’m doing and my splits, times, etc…..click here and track me on the course….I’m bib # 4815.

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How Did I Get Here?

Random? Meeting up with your college friend you haven't seen in 5 years at a starting line

So for the past 16 months (early December 2009) I’ve been training with one main goal in mind, to be totally prepared and ready to PR (personal record) in the Boston Marathon.  And now, with less than two weeks to go….I feel like I’m FINALLY ready, and all that’s left is my favorite part of training (the taper), and to perform!  But before I can dig into why I LOVE to taper, and provide a recap on this last 16 months….I’d like to set the stage for next week’s blog post with a brief review of some training strategies and milestones (good and bad) that have set me up for what has been the most intense training I’ve done since my college wrestling days.  Hopefully you can learn from some of them…or at least smile, enjoy my story,  or at the very least laugh a little at my expense:)

  • September 6, 2009 – some of my PACER teammates (www.pacerteam.com) and I head to VA Beach to start what is now our annual Labor Day tradition….my goal….to PR (shocking I know) and break 1:30:00 in the 1/2 marathon.  11.9 miles in and things are going perfectly as planned, although I’m feeling it big time…but as I turn the corner onto the final stretch down the boardwalk to the finish (1.2 miles), I feel like I’m hit by a wall….not “the wall” (more on that soon)…but a wall of ocean wind….and with each stride I seem to lose a little more time, a little more steam, and a little more sanity…..I finish at 1:30:17….just over 1 second per mile too slow to meet my goal.  I’m pissed to say the least…but motivated to do better next time.  Lesson learned:  train slightly faster than your “goal pace”  in tempo runs and track workouts even it your training plan says otherwise so as to leave yourself a bit of buffer room in case something slightly unexpected comes up…like mother nature.
  • September 7, 2009 – after dealing with my frustration in just missing my goal, I realize that I’m in pretty good shape and I just ran a 6:53 / mile for 13.1 miles.  In the back of my head I start thinking about my “big plan” in 2010 to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I start thinking…heck I “only” have to run a 3:10:59 marathon or better (7:17 / mile pace)…maybe I could actually do this in 2009!
  • September 10, 2009 – I settle on the West Palm Beach marathon on December 6, 2009…it promises to be pancake flat, run along the bay….warm in December…and heck I could use a vacation.  And what’s more…my grandfather lives close by, so there’s a good chance I can finagle a few “Loudmouths” to join me (that’s what we call those people cheering along the race, and you could say my family are natural Loudmouths).  So after 3 additional months of training that included weekly:
  1. Tempo Runs – workouts intended to get you used to going at race pace (or a little faster in my case), and include a 1-2 mile warm-up, 7-10 miles slightly faster than race pace, and a 1-2 mile cool down
  2. Track Intervals – workouts intended to push your anaerobic threshold or also called your Lactate threshold (a more indepth view for a different post).  The gist here is to get your body physiologically ready to push past it’s level of traditional limits and become more efficient at relying on energy conversion without a sufficient supply of oxygen.
  3. Long Runs – slowly build the strength and endurance in your cardiovascular fitness, along with your muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc…..but at least as important….your mental endurance and focus to keep plugging along.
  4. Recovery Runs – ideal for loosening back up…getting rid of tightness, cramping, and (although there’s mixed research here) any lactic acid (derivative of anaerobic training) build-up.
  • December 6, 2009 – RACE DAY!!  I’m ready….it’s 6 am and about 60 degrees in South Florida already.  It’s a small field with 600 marathoners and about 2000 half marathoners.  I line-up on the starting line and ironically enough I see an old college friend line-up next to me…I took it as a good sign.  The first 17 miles go off like clock-work, everything is going as planned…..and as I run the next 5k (3.1 miles) past some of the half marathoners who were in their home stretch (this was one of those dreaded courses where you actually have to go past the finish line and then run another 6 miles out in the boonies) I find myself feeling great and so excited that I start cheering for them out loud.  Some are caught off guard…who cheers for other racers while racing!!??  But before I knew it, there was a pack around me, riding my energy…and it only lifted my spirit further (getting chills writing this right now)!  As I cross mile twenty and go past the grandstand and finish line….I hear my name over the loud speaker….I pump my fist in the air….I’m ahead of pace….this is mine!

And then it happened…..at mile 22 I was expecting to see my loudmouths (my two sisters, my mom, and my “pre-wife”…yeah, that’s what I used to call her….because fiancée is a stupid word)…but no sign of them.  I hit the wall and the wheels started falling off….the sun is starting to blaze and blinding off the ocean bay to my right…I’m all alone…I’m exhausted….and I’ve still got over 3 miles.  I watch my GPS watch as my pace goes from 7:10, to 7:25, to 7:40, to 7:55…and I start to panic…and then pray.  I hit mile 24.2 and with two miles to go I have exactly 15 minutes to do it….I’m worrying big time….and then I hear them “ERRIIIICCCCC!!!!”  The loudmouths had come through…..my sister Amy and “pre-wife” Amy were there….they picked me up….believed in me…reminded me of my goals…reminded me of why I was doing this…and ran the next mile with me (purses in hand)….I got back on track…and with less than a mile left I could see the finish.  I stumbled along, my body screaming….I could hear the grandstands….I could hear the loud speaker…..the tunnel of fans started (chills again)….I could see the clock….I crossed the finish line at 3:10:05 (3:10:00 net time)…pointed to the sky to say thanks…stumbled to the aid station and leaned on the fence…the emotions poured out of me…I began sobbing….my other sister came rushing up and gave me a hug….the paramedics were nervous, and she kindly smiled at them and said “it’s ok…he does this”!  After I finally collected myself, I went over to my Mom who had been met by Amy & Amy….I gave them all hugs and thanked them…and the calls started rushing in from family and friends….I had done it….and it will forever go down as one of the most memorable, exhilarating, and grateful days in my life!  It and all that went along with it has set me up to push through some hard times and be prepared for what lies ahead……9 days in counting….bring it on!

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