Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio….

Given the fact that I was…well, “minus 13” when Simon & Garfunkel’s hit “Mrs. Robinson” came out…and since I’ve never actually scene “The Graduate”….I’ve never totally understood what this phrase meant…..but in thinking about how to title this blog….it seemed so fitting.

So fitting – since I’ve been more than just a little “MIA” lately in blogging…..so fitting – that my beloved NY Yankees (who face the possibility of being swept by the Detroit Tigers tonight) could SO use Joe D. right now…..and so fitting that last night, instead of watching the Yankees, I found myself glued to the Presidential Town Hall debate….DESPERATELY wanting for one of the candidates to say something with actual substance….not just statements about historical items….or what their track records are…or what the high level (aka vague) basis of their plans are to lead our country back to where we “should be”…..substance…you know…like HOW they might actually implement their plans.  And while I find myself so eagerly looking for new direction and leadership in the White House….I turned off last night’s debate feeling less than fulfilled.

So when I decided tonight was the night I’d start back to regular updates…the night I’d no longer “be gone” from the blog-o-sphere….Paul Simon’s lyrics popped into my head….and after doing a little research as to what he actually meant by this statement (below) ….I find myself missing “Joe Dimaggio”….a man, admittedly, I’ve never seen play.

[In a New York Times op-ed in March 1999,[9] shortly after DiMaggio’s death, Simon discussed this meeting and explained that the line was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio’s unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes. He further reflected: “In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence.”]

But while “Joltin Joe” may have left and gone away…..my plan is to come back, regularly, to blogging…..in part because the feedback from those that have chosen to read has been pleasant and uplifting….special thanks to Chris S – a guy I’ve respected for a number of years, who stopped me randomly this weekend to tell me how moved and inspired he was by my piece on my Boston Marathon experience….and the rest…selfishly…for me…..because somewhere in the last 4 months, I’ve gotten away from one of the things that’s served as an incredible tool for self-reflection (this blog)…something that’s helped keep me focused on WHY….and something….like Joe D…..that I’ve missed.

For all those that  truly desire a path of “Fit 2 Be (a)LIVE”, I encourage you to think about the reflection tools in your life and how they impact your personal health and wellness…it certainly helps me.  Till next time (when I’ll fill in some of the 4 month gap)….remember…”Heaven Holds A Place For Those Who Pray”….

-E

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Reporting from London 2012……

 

Vicarious experience can be an incredibly powerful thing.  It has been shown to be a vital strategy in motivating others, helping them to change behavior or take further action.  It can evoke the most extreme emotions…putting butterflies in your stomach, chills on your arm, a smile on your face, and tears in your eyes.  It can make you laugh, stomp your feet, clap your hands, jump up and down, and even scream and cheer at the top of your lungs.  It can literally MOVE YOU!

Over the last few days, I’ve had the sincere privilege to experience the 2012 London Olympic Games, vicariously through our hometown Olympian Julie Culley – a colleague at Pro-Activity since 2010, an athlete under our training since 2011, and most importantly a very close friend since 1988.  Few moments in my life have moved me so!

 

If you’ve been following along in the the newspapers, our “Elements” newsletter, with us on facebook or twitter, or have been with us at our BaseCamp 31 facility in the last few months – you know that the Olympics have been a focal point.  Something we’ve talked or written of frequently, trained some for, and celebrated with many in our community.  In June, alongside our friends from the Hunterdon Lion’s Track club, we hosted a send-off party for 15+ members of the professional NJNY Track club (seven of them locals) as they made their way to Eugene, OR for the Olympic Trials.  In July, with 250+ of our closest friends, families, and community members we welcomed US Olympic Trials champion and newly crowned Olympian, Culley, home and sent her off to London in style, writing about it in last month’s “Elements”.  But with all of that, little could prepare me for what I felt in London these past few days, vicariously through the efforts and heart of an American champion…..

 

As Mrs. Culley (Julie’s mom) describes it, “It’s not even a once in a lifetime experience…there is no framework or reference point for this….most will never get to experience this type of thing…this type of atmosphere…this type of pride in their lifetime”.  And so, while I consider myself one of the very fortunate few locals who got to be there in person, please understand that as I left for London, I did so consciously doing my best to represent you, the greater Pro-Activity family and BaseCamp31 community, with an abundance of USA pride, and bringing along your strength, prayers, and heartfelt best wishes to Julie.  I write these next few (ok so way more than a few) paragraphs in recap of my experience, as a celebration of an American achievement and realization of another dream, a thank you to all of you who (maybe unknowingly) played a role in getting Julie there and me to support, and as a hopeful encouragement to all readers….that you may break through trepidation, and tear down adversity, following Julie’s footsteps, IN PURSUIT and MOVING towards your dreams…..

 

Sunday, August 5th:  It was an early start at Newark Airport and promised to be a long day of travel with seven hours of flight-time and a five hour time change, but my travel partner and I (another of Julie and my best friends Kristen Haughey-Prendergast), were greated by United Airlines employees and other passengers with encouraging smiles.  They saw Kristen’s shirt that we had ordered from the USA Track & Field association, imprinted with a large American flag, and personalized with “Team Julie” inscriptions on the sleeve and back.  We were continually asked, “What’s Team Julie?” and responded eagerly and pridefully with, “Oh…our friend Julie Culley is running for Team USA on Tuesday and we’re going to cheer her on”.  And as we strolled down the aisle to take our seats, we could feel the eyes of the 200 other passengers on us as we walked by, smiling at us, and wishing Julie best, even if only through a quick glance!

 

Monday, August 6th:  It was our day to explore the town a bit.  Julie was tied up in pre-race preparation in Athlete village (in Stratford London), a few train stops from our apartment near Hoburn, so we thought we’d use the day to see some of the sights.  Of course, Kristen, an accomplished runner in her own right (University of Virgina ‘03, North Hunterdon High School ‘99), thought it would be best to see the town on foot, or as she put it “What better way to explore a new city than to run it”.  Given the airplane food indulgence, and seemingly abundant supply of bacon, and refined carbohydrates in English traditional fare that we’d soon be ingesting, I agreed.  A facebook post later from some colleagues, and a challenge by team physical therapist Justin Bagley, and we were off to see how many places and famous sites we could get to and take a picture with “Mr. P-body” aka the Pro-Activity logo.  

 

 

 

 

 

After a trip to Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the London Bridge, and Tower Bridge (where the Olympic rings are hung from), we ate an early dinner and packed it in…..Tuesday was race day…and although we weren’t racing, we had work to do!

 

Tuesday, August 7th: Olympic Women’s 5,000m Semi-Final:   Rise and shine bright and early!  We were told by tour guides to get to the stadium two hours prior to the Tuesday morning session start.  This was going to be a day to remember!  After some back and forth phone calls and text messaging to other “Team Culley” members (Julie’s family), Kristen and I suited up in yet another Team Culley shirt, this one designed by Kristen and our friends at Sneaker’s Plus who’ve always done right by us, and we were off to Olympic village.

 

Now, Olympic village was unlike anything I had ever seen.  Everything was gigantic, from the buildings, to the advertisements and VISA banners with Usain Bolt, to the multiple huge stadium structures in one section of town creating what looked to be an entire town built specifically for the Games.  The stadium almost had a Roman Coliseum feel to it with huge pillars everywhere.  Thankfully (I guess) Kristen and I were in by about 8am, leaving us plenty of time to walk around..snap a few photos, spend 5 pounds (about $7.50) on the world’s worst coffee, and make our way to our seats, which surprisingly put us only 23 rows up from the 5,000 meter starting line!

 

The session started with the javelin, and then progressed to the men’s 110m high hurdles, but with the exception of when the British athletes were competing, the stadium stayed relatively quiet.  And then…after much anticipation, the athletes in the first women’s 5,000m heat walked out of the tunnel and entered the stadium to a moderate applause.  

 

Now, if I had told you Kristen and I quickly made “friends” with those around us (or at least gave them something to chuckle about) it would be an understatement…..as Julie entered the stadium, Kristen and I bellowed “CULLLLLLEEEEEYYY!!!  LET’S GO JULIE …..WOOOAAAHHHOOOO”.  Instantly those around us turned, smiled, and realized Team Culley was here and ready to rock!  And after a few warm-up strides, before we knew it, she was on the starting line, and our incredible loudmouths, among 80,000 spectators caught Julie’s ear and our frantic jumping and screaming caught her eye.  She flashed back a bright Culley-like smile and greeted with a quick wave….you could tell it meant the world to her to see some familiar faces out there…and the world to us to be there in support!  

 

Can you imagine….there you are, sitting amongst 80,000 people, in England, in an atmosphere anticipating the entrance of Usain Bolt..arguably the most dominant track and field athlete of the current era, and there you are, with your friend of 22 years on the starting line in Olympic stadium waving to you with a reassuring smile.  It gave me chills instantly as I thought about what she was getting ready to attempt…what it meant to her…how hard she had worked to get there…..how proud her family and we were…and how, above it all, she was there…with the defending Olympic champion from 2008 only a few yards away from her….and still smiling…the same old Julie we’ve all come to love!  And then…a hush from the crowd and a familiar “On Your Marks”……this was really happening and I was there!
 
With the gun, the crowd erupted as they normally do….Julie almost instantly took her position in the middle of the pack, keeping the leaders in striking distance, but not overdoing it from the start….a strategy that has proved her very well in recent competition.  With each lap,  Kristen and I were our usual “not-so-bashful” selves, and before we knew it….those around us were joining in and hopping on the “Team Culley” bandwagon.  At one moment, I looked down the row at a man calling to his friend, seated in front of us…and as he struggled with his english to say “Caulie”….I quickly realized we had the Americans next to us…the Brits that surrounded us, and even those around from lands far away on our side!  Julie’s cheering section was building, and so was her pace….

 

It’s pretty amazing, when you watch a 5k (5,000 meter race) on tv, it seems to go a bit slow, watching 15 minutes of athletes going round and round a track, but when you’re there in person…it FLYS by.  Before we knew it, Julie was 10 laps into the 12.5 lap race, and continuing to jockey for position somewhere between 6th and 8th out of about 18 women (keep in mind top 5 automatically advance).  As she passed time and time again her demeanor didn’t seem to change, she appeared calm, but focused – but those that know her best (us) knew she was ready to pounce when the opportunity presented itself….

 

At the bell lap things started to spread out…the leaders (including the defending champion) took to the front and you could see the girls kick it into high gear….and Julie was ready!  As she passed us the last time, our whole section erupted, cheering her on….and in the last 100 yards, with Kristen and I jumping and shaking each other…screaming “She’s gonna do it!  She’s gonna do it!” she repeated what she had done a month prior at the Olympic trials, outkicking a couple of women, and securing 5th place and an automatic qualifying spot in the final…all by two tenths of a second!

 

 

 

We went berzerk, cheering…slapping hi-fives with the “strangers” around us…..and as tears streamed down Kristen’s face, and I choked back a few of my own….our friend had realized ANOTHER dream…something she’s been IN PURSUIT of for many, many years.  Julie Culley had earned herself the distinction of American Champion, Olympian, and now…Olympic Finalist!

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 7th – Post Race  The next few hours were pretty awesome.  All of us were on a high from Julie’s recent performance, and better yet….we were actually going to get to spend some time with her!  And after some traipsing through Olympic Village (side note – Olympic village was CRAZY – you couldn’t get in without a ticket to one of the events….it was the only place to really buy souvenirs and there were literally hundreds of thousands of people) we finally had our reunion! To be there in person, when Julie hugged her parents….it was amazing…I’ve never seen a more proud family…and I’ve never seen a more grateful daugther!  

To be there when the Brits in various restaurants and in the streets came up to Julie and asked for pictures…..to be there to hear her tell her race story and what it was like competing against the world’s best….to hear her experiences in athletes village…what it was like to have some NBA stars come to meet the other athletes….how it was “not a big deal” to be escorted around town by FloTrack and interviewed by numerous media outlets, or ride the elevator with Michael Phelps…..to be there with Julie, Kristen, the Culley family, and all of “Team Culley” and know in my heart …that Julie Culley, Olympic finalist….was still Julie Culley..the self proclaimed “ordinary girl, trying to do extraordinary things”…..it was, has been, and continues to be something that brings me great pride…pride in my friend and colleague…pride in my community, and pride in my country.  USA, USA, USA!

 

 

 

On to the final…..we’re with you Julie!.
 
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Julie Culley – Our Colleague, Our Friend, Our Athlete, Our Olympian

I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing, blogging, “vlogging”, and community relations lately.  Multiple articles in the Pro-Activity company newsletter / blog.  One or two for the local Clinton Twp. newsletter, a few interview coordination and party planning efforts for our newest local celebrity (long-time friend) Julie Culley, and a little video production that took more hours than I’d like to admit.  Of course, it’s all been for great reason and great cause, but needless to say, I’ve been neglecting my “Fit 2 Be (a) LIVE” contributions.  So I’m once again recycling the below article…but assuredly for good reason!  Enjoy!

– EJE


In July of 2010, I got an email from one of my very best childhood friends that had moved out of the area after college, stating “Guess who’s moving home?”!  Having been in the Maryland / DC area since graduating from Rutgers in 2004, my friend, Julie Culley, had many reasons for the move, but most focused on the development of her career as a professional runner.  “I’ll be running with a new professional club based out of Rutgers to prep for the 2012 trials, and I’d love to get involved with what you guys are doing at Pro-Activity!” Julie excitedly wrote.

Two years later, the hometown girl that decided to come back home has departed once again….but this time Julie is en route to London as an Olympian, the USA Olympic Trials Champion, Hunterdon County’s newest hometown hero….and in her words, “Just an ordinary girl trying to do extraordinary things!”

But the road to London and realization of a personal dream wasn’t all smiles, high fives, and smooth sailing for Julie, a professional runner for Asics, member of the New Jersey-New York Track Club, and coach / trained-athlete at Pro-Activity.  No, like any amazing human achievement story, this one comes with its fair share of ups and downs, twists and turns, and adversity.  Julie after all, a very talented athlete since her days on the youth soccer field, got into running “late” and never won an individual state, big east or national title throughout her years at North Hunterdon High School or Rutgers University.  And although she did claim All-American status in high school as a member of the Distance Medley Relay Team, and in Cross-Country for Rutgers University, as a runner frequently battling injury, the title of “National Champion” was seemingly always just out of grasp.  “It was tough mentally and emotionally….it’s like I’ve always known it’s been inside me but my body didn’t want to cooperate.  So after Rutgers, I decided to leave competitive running and take a great opportunity with Loyola.” said Culley, referencing being named Head Coach at Loyola University, Maryland, the youngest head coach in NCCA Division I history.  “But within short time, I felt like I still had more to give to the sport, so I joined on with Matt Centrowitz’s crew (the former American record holder in the 5,000 meters and current American University head coach)

and began training and competing again”.

Alongside Coach Centrowitz, Julie began to flourish, finishing 7th in the 2008 Olympic trials and representing Team USA at the 2009 World Championships, but still found herself battling injury after injury and struggling to put together consistent, injury-free training.  And when word in the running world got out in 2010 that famed track coach Frank Gagliano (aka the “Godfather of Track & Field”) and long-time Centrowitz friend would be starting an elite running group in the Northeast anchored by 2008 Olympian Erin Donahue, Julie decided it was a great opportunity to come home.  But as history often does…it repeated itself, and Julie came home a bit injured, and after some strong words of “encouragement” from Pro-Activity therapist Justin Bagley, she decided it was time to truly RECOVER and shut it down for two months with no running.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  

In the past two years, with the help of a number of medical professionals and coaches, both those that are a part of the Pro-Activity team and many who

are not, Julie has strung together something extraordinary, and credits her ability to train healthy and consistently on the track and in the gym (ok we call this the “MOVE” element) as one of the keys to her recent projection into US track and field stardom!  Coupled with the appropriate “FUELING” (Julie sticks to a gluten-free diet) and “RECOVERY” (Physical Therapy, Massage, Chiropractic, Orthopedist) strategies, Julie found it within herself to “ENDURE” the hard workouts, the countless hours on the track and in the gym, and maybe the most famous 100 meters at the 2012 Olympic Trials where she out-kicked American record holder Molly Huddle for the victory!  She consciously relied on four of the the five Pro-Activity identified ELEMENTS for her most recent extraordinary human achievement; the one that helped her to physically realize some

thing she’s only seen in her dreams to this point – a USA Olympic Trials National Championship, and the right to now be known as an OLYMPIAN, and a member of TEAM USA!

BUT – even having known Julie since we were seven years old….the thing that struck me most, and I believe is the quote that best represents the true Julie Culley, is what she said to me his past Thursday at our last strength workout before she left for overseas – “What puts this whole thing over the top for me is how the community has connected with all of this and shown such an outpouring of amazing support.  It’s incredible….I’m not sure I deserve all of this, but it’s something I’ll always cherish”.
And there you have it…the fifth and final ELEMENT (CONNECT) required for Extraordinary Human Achievement!

If you’d like to see just what Julie was referring to, take a look at the video below (that little production that took me longer than I’d like to admit), shown to 250+ people at our  “Julie Culley Olympic Send-Off Party” hosted by Pro-Activity at our BaseCamp 31 facility.
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Pursue With Pride

Been a while since I’ve posted…no excuses, I’ve just been lame. Well, at least in my writing. It’s funny, I had a friend and client ask me the other day…in not so many words….”what do you want to be when you grow up”. It kind of through me for a loop at first…I mean to be honest, I’m not really used to folks asking me about my personal goals, etc……I’m usually the one doing the asking…but this person is pretty important to me, so fair enough. I admitted that I loved coaching people and helping them achieve their goals…sometimes helping them realize something they never thought possible, other times just giving the extra bit of encouragement or training tools they need to put the finishing touches on top of an already incredibly solid foundation. I told her that what I’d love to do more of is writing, and that someday…after a few more interesting experiences and stories to tell…some day I’d love to get into the professional speaking circuit.

But what I failed to get out was what I’ve written so many times….. that my life’s mission is to live with uncompromising commitment and relentless drive, to stay true to family and self, and to have the courage to pursue with pride. Sound vague? Yeah, I could see that. The thing is there isn’t only one thing I’m specifically after…but instead to me it’s more important that whatever I’m after…I pursue it in the RIGHT way! So while today’s pursuit may be somewhat different than tomorrow’s, my mission is to truly go after it, never sacrificing my values or ideals, and take pride in and enjoy the pursuit.

“Yesterday’s pursuit” (actually 10 days ago) included my first Olympic Triathlon…something I initially thought would be a bit of a stretch goal. After all, only two short months ago I struggled to swim 100 meters without rest and this event included 1500 meters of swimming, but this was another one of those experiences I felt I “had” to have. And although there were times I thought how easy it would be to just bag it….to stay true and achieve it (2:38:57 time for 1500 meter swim, 24 mi bike, 6.2 mi run) put another notch in my athletic belt, a check mark off my 2012 goals, but above all….provided an even more undying respect for those athletes that pursue triathlon.

And for tomorrow’s pursuit (besides being an awesome husband, father, brother, son, entrepreneur, coach, colleague, and friend)…..to get back to basics a bit and re-find the fun and passion in my own personal strength workouts! I’ll keep you posted…but till then, go find the passion in your pursuit!

 

p.s. To all my NJ-NY Track Club friends, especially those that have trained with me the last few months…Julie, Frances, Kate, Ashley, Nicole, and Steph….good luck at the US Olympic trials next week….we’re pulling for you! For all you readers, if you’re somewhat local and would like to join us, we’ll be hosting viewing parties at our facility to cheer our friends on!

 

 

 

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He’s Heating Up

This past Saturday in my “brick” workout…(ride, then run….my last prior to this weekend’s Olympic Distance Triathlon), I couldn’t help but think about how hot it was.  While en route to what wound up being a 30 mile ride, I found myself chatting with my two training partners for the day (Derek & Chris) about the heat really starting to drag on me a bit.  It reminded me of this past year’s Boston Marathon….you know, that day that it was almost 90 degrees and humid in mid April…in Boston!

After getting off the bike, I started to think about “heat acclimation”….and what a surprise, almost exactly 1 year ago today, after having more unseasonably hot weather….I wrote the below blog

“If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen” – A few tips to stay fit and prevail in the heat ….

Hydration

First – keep in mind that over 60% of your body is made of water and effective hydration is a key component to allowing your body to cool itself.  Actually, if you’ve been reading since the beginning, you might remember me mentioning that some anthropologists believe our ability to cool ourselves via sweat was key in our ability to survive, and when needed, run our prey to death.  HOWEVER, also remember that as we sweat excessively we lose liquid and therefore blood volume…adding additional cardiovascular strain (heart has to work harder to get the body what it needs via blood supply), AND we also lose a considerable amount of sodium…and when the sodium concentration in our body is lower outside the cells within our body vs. inside, the body compensates and pushes water into the cells…causing cell swelling.  And while some cells can handle the swelling …some don’t do so well…like those in the brain, putting us in a potentially compromised and even dangerous situation.  But don’t just rush out and replenish excessive sweat loss with water alone…this might just make matters worse.  Read my colleague Justin’s blog for a further explanation of hyponatremia…and know this – dehydration equal to even a 2% weight loss (3 pounds for me) can have a detrimental performance effect…..and as much as a 5% weight loss (7.5 lbs if you weigh 150) has been shown to decrease performance capacity by up to 30%…yikes!

Some simple tips I put into place…keep liquid readily available while exercising in the heat….I drink about 3-5 ounces (few good gulps) ever 15-20 minutes.  But taking it one step further…when exercising for greater than one consecutive hour…or possibly even less in excessive heat….consider replenishing with a sports drink that contains the sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes you’ve just sweat out.

Training in the Heat

Don’t be afraid of it, just be smart.  It’s important to get acclimated to the heat, but starting out slow and short…some recommendations indicate starting with 10-20 minutes, and working up to about 60-100 minutes over a 10-14 day period.  And most research will point to 10-14 full days before your body full acclimates….but what does that really mean?

  • Blood plasma increases compensating for the blood volume lost via sweat
  • Lower core body temperature…meaning the body has further to go before “over-heating”
  • Lower resting heart rate & more efficient cardiovascular system
Further, some recent studies indicate that heat acclimation training has shown to provide performance benefits in both hot and cold environments!
For me – I try and do my interval work (bursts of higher intensity followed by a recovery period)  in the heat, but ensure I’m well hydrated and fueled prior to attempting.  I’ve found it to be a key in successful summer fitness and endurance events, and a competitive advantage vs. those who have taken the early morning “beat the heat” approach to training.  But I caution you, it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Happy & Hot Training……
-E
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Trying-Athlon

This past weekend’s triathlon completion marked a new first for me….well sorta…..having been involved in athletics all my life, the last 6 or so years have been dedicated to endurance sports and events as opposed to the football fields or wrestling mats I grew up on….but not much in triathlon.  After making the jump from traditional athletics to endurance, I quickly took to running and found that, although I didn’t LOVE it, I LOVED what it did for me….providing an opportunity for better health, incredible experiences, a way for me to set very specific goals and go after achieving them…and a way to provide a  little inspiration to some and gain a lot of inspiration from others.

Soon after I jumped into distance running, marathons, etc in 2006. I thought I’d hop in a local “sprint triathlon”…because, after all, I was an athlete…and I was “fit”.  So after what turned out to be about 3 sessions of treading water in my sister’s backyard pool….a run or two, and 1 cycling ride on a ten speed from the 1970’s….my buddy Justin and I decided to go for it.  Race day started with 40 degree air temps, and me…well I knew nothing about a wet suit.  Needless to say, within the first 100 meters in the water…I could feel every fiber of my being  beginning to tighten, cramp, and panic….thankfully, I’m a bit of a worrier so I quickly waived down the rescue boat…and so ended my first attempt at triathlon….a very humbling experience, and a great lesson in sport specificity and training.

Six years later, and LOTS more experience and endurance training knowledge under my belt….and a schlew of friends / family / colleagues and resources surrounding me and encouraging me to give it another “tri”….I decided I’d do it…and it went well….I mean it better have went well….the training principles are very similar to distance running….and another example of “if you put some time in you’ll get results out”.

Now don’t get me wrong…I could have definitely put more time into my training (only really had 1 month to focus after completing the Boston Marathon, but made a point to get in the pool and on the bike almost weekly since February)…but I did enough to overcome my fear of an open water swim, and build enough endurance in the water to get through it.  It went something like this…..

Race day arrived, and after packing the bike in a sedan (I’ve learned really complicated things like how to take off the front tire and inflate a road bike’s tires…sarcasm much?), I made my way to pick up my race packet and proceeded to the entrance to the transition area to be “marked”….and shortly thereafter I made an amateaur mistake giving the race official my age (31) when they really wanted my bib number (65) to write on my left shoulder…..oh well…there are worse things.

After settling into transition next to my younger brother Greg (also a first-timer), and getting advice from my friend Chris (experienced triathlete) and brother Mike (Ironman triathlete)….we decided to get the wetsuits on (not as dumb as I was last time)…and do a brief warm-up….and after jumping in the water….I couldn’t get over how warm I felt, and how much this suit made me float….my confidence was starting to climb a bit.

Soon it was time to go…and as we walked to the start…I promised myself to stay in the back on the swim…I was banking on passing many on the bike and run…and so I did.  The swim went almost as planned…minus the getting kicked in the face, hit in the foot and bumped from the side…and I definitely underestimated the wakes that other swimmers would create, making it much more difficult than swimming in the pool.  It probably took me 600 of the 1000 meter swim to “settle in”…but I got out of the water feeling strong with a smile on my face…mission accomplished.

Running from the beach into transition, I started gathering my thoughts about what I’d need on the bike.  Insert lesson #2….remember EXACTLY where you put your bike or find someway to mark your area clearly.  So after some wasted time in the transition area looking for my bike an stuff….I grabbed my fluids & a sleeve of cliff shots, sunglasses, helmet, slipped out of the wetsuit..dried the feet, into the socks and shoes and grabbed the bike to run out of transition…..50 meters out of transition, I realized I forgot my watch….lesson 3 on the day.

The bike part of the race (20 miles) was very familiar to me, it was around my hometown and I had ridden the course in training….it went as good as I could have hoped…of course knowing when the hills were coming and when they were over helped….I probably passed about 40 people on the ride…which although I was slightly impressed with was probably at least due to my slow swim as it was my fast (for me) bike……and as I headed into transition and off the bike, I was reminded of lesson #2…AGAIN.  Where the hell is that bike.

3 minutes later (or thereabouts), I was on the run….and “at home”.  I flashed a smile at my “fans” (aka family) and said….”now I can cruise”.  This is where I’d start pushing myself (for the next 4 miles) a bit…..and for the first time in a long time…pushing was fun again.  I probably passed another 20 or so on the run, averaging a 6:50 or so pace, and quickly finding myself at the final turn.  At that point…the day’s final lesson….I saw my brother Mike (who had finished about 1o min before) along with the rest of my “fans” and saw him waive quickly yelling “go, go, push-it”…I had a hunch I must be close to some time milestone…so I pushed….lesson #4…don’t underestimate how tired your hamstrings can get on a bike….instant cramp, and a “sprinting limp” led to a sub 2 hr. finish on the clock (1:53:40 net).

Overall – a great experience….something, like any endurance event, I think anyone could do if they put some time in…and for me, a good stepping stone to my first Olympic Distance (1500 meter swim, 24 mile ride, 6.2 mile run) on 6/3/12

Happy Training,

-E

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Dear Mom

So I’m a couple of days late with this post, and I’ve been fortunate to be somehow associated with so many incredible achievements and cool things going on, I wasn’t quite sure where I’d go with this post.

There’s my best friend who, after over a year of training, has just logged his first 50 mile ultra marathon, qualifying him for the “Western States”….what he calls, “The Boston Marathon for Ultra-marathons”!  And instead of giving himself a much deserved pat on the back, he deflected his success, crediting his wife and the community that supported him.  Read his recap here.  How incredibly awesome!

There’s my pending “sprint” triathlon this weekend (oh yeah, conveniently forgot to mention this), where I’ll be entering the open water for only the 2nd time in my life (suffice it to say that my last attempt, with 40+ degree air temps and no wet suit, and next to zero training, didn’t last long and I got the dreaded DNF).  I’m a bit of a last minute entry, but figured it’d be a good test as I get ready for my first Olympic distance on 6/3.  Probably the coolest part of this weekend is that I’ll be doing the race with two of my brothers, and good friend Chris.  And although I’m thinking they’ll probably be so far ahead of me that they’ll be finishing when I’m just getting off my bike (or before)…beware gentlemen, if I see you on the run course, I’m not above tripping you just before the finish if I have to…ha, kidding of course!

There’s my two nieces, who have trained incredibly hard, and have been vying for their spot in the HS varsity chearleading line-up (with three high schools in our county alone placing nationally year after year, chearleading is quickly becoming one of the most competitive sports around), and while it only worked out as planned for one of the two….I’m confident that if each of them continue to truly desire greatness in the sport and stay focused, they have the love, support, and resources available to reach whatever they set out to achieve.

There’s my grandfather, a WW II veteran, who was just flown to DC by an incredible not-for-profit “Honor Flight“, to be recognized and honored along with two PLANES FULL of his fellow servicemen, for the extraordinarily selfless work they did for us overseas 65 years ago.  I am eternally grateful, and humbled for the sacrifices these folks made so that we can live the life we do.

There’s my brother-in-law who just graduated from college….and for those of us who have been there, we know what a hugely impressive…and sometimes daunting next step this can be….after all, with the real world comes real responsibilities and accountability to self…..but not to worry Jeff….what also comes is the real chance of “freedom”….to live the life you want!  Probably the best advice I ever received was to do what you love first, worry about money later….and even though I was too stubborn to listen right away (shocking, I know), after 4 months in a cubicle and some serious life changing events….I quickly realized that if there was ever a time to take a chance and follow your passion….the year(s) immediately post graduate were certainly it.  I urge you to consider the same, and am confident that if you do….you’ll land happily on your feet!

And then, there’s the one day each year when we actually stop for a second, and honor the people that brought us into this world….those so instrumental in giving us our greatest gift…life!  Mom’s may just be the most incredibly strong people in the world.  Somehow, from the moment their feet hit the ground in the morning, they start sprinting with one main mission….to take care of the people they love.  It’s pretty amazing really that they keep their sanity at all….and what may be even more impressive, it doesn’t seem as though they slow or stop as their children continue to age.  And in that, they may be life’s all-time best endurance athletes!

I’ve been fortunate to have had so many “moms” in my life supporting me….from the sister’s and sister-in-law who’ve made sure I’ve always had what I needed (also known as “spoiling”) and do the same for their kids, the Mom’s of friends who have “adopted” me over the years, the clients-turned-friends who have been so incredibly care-taking and generous, a mother-in-law that has treated me as her own from the moment we met (and recently trekked to Boston just to watch her granddaughter and support me in the marathon), and now a wife, who in only 4 months as a mom, has shown me the most incredible demonstration of strength, will, and love that I’ve ever seen.

But of course, this blog wouldn’t be near complete without a testimonial to my Mom.  This woman is nothing short of incredible.  With six kids and 11 grandchildren, she has in some way figured out how to make each of us feel like her favorite.  And it’s not just us…..having spent a career in education, I’m yet to meet someone more devoted to the lives and enrichment of children then her.  She has a gift, an endless love, and I couldn’t be more thankful that God chose her for me.

Happy Mother’s Day all!

Love,

The “All-time Momma’s Boy”…Eric

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Is the “E-GO” a Ticket to Recovery? ElliptiGO Outdoor Elliptical Bicycle Review

Taking from an article I wrote for last month’s edition of Pro-Activity’s “ELEMENTS” newsletter, a monthly publication providing education and resources on how to MOVE, FUEL, RECOVER, ENDURE, & CONNECT…..Well!

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A little less than a year ago, Wes Knowles walked into our facility looking for some additional guidance, coaching, and rehab to supplement his current training routine, as he worked his way back from painful knee surgery. A lifelong endurance athlete, Wes’ message to us was clear, “After 6 marathons including Boston, NYC, and Chicago, a dozen or so half marathons, and a couple of triathlons, the time shortly following my knee surgery was when I hit rock bottom. I started to gain weight, couldn’t get outdoors to exercise or get the time away like I was used to, and what was maybe even worse, I started to lose touch with my social network….all the friends I had normally met for weekend runs were doing their thing, and I couldn’t keep up. At that point I knew I had to find a way back.” And so we got started, as health & fitness professionals typically do, with an assessment.

Within short-time, as we were completing various tests, measurements, etc. Wes asked, “Have you ever heard of the Elliptigo?”…..”Uh, can’t say that I have.” I stated….”Oh, you gotta try it. It’s like a high-end road bike except you stand upright and propel it with an elliptical motion. There’s no impact, and it’s the closest thing I’ve found that gives me the same workout feeling as running outside, without beating on my knee.” A few weeks later, he brought one over for us to try…Turns out that Wes, who had seen the product months prior at a race expo, was such a believer, he decided to become a distributor of the product.

Now, I must admit, anytime someone approaches me with a new product in the health and fitness industry, I’m extremely cautious to jump on the band wagon, maybe even more so if the person has a vested interest in it. It’s not that I’m not a fan of innovation, it’s just that, well I consider the Pro-Activity brand and my personal brand one in the same in many ways, and at the end of the day, the brand is worth more to me than just about anything in my professional world. So before I “buy in” I study the product, use myself as a guinea pig, and weigh the pros and cons before I’ll even consider recommending it to a client or friend. The Elliptigo being no different in this case. But after a few quick “tours around the neighborhood”, and a 10 mile trek as part of “the REDiculous Relay” (a little 200+ mile human powered event I’ve done with a group of friends the past two years from High Point to Cape May, NJ), I started to think…”Well, this could definitely be a fun alternative to pounding the pavement or great for someone seeking a new enjoyable way to exercise outside, but could it really be an effective training tool for recovery? Can I really get the cardiovascular intensity I need for performance improvement without as much stress on my legs?”.

In the ensuing 10 months, the ElliptiGO gained a a great deal of media exposure (most recently featured on Good Morning America below), and has gained the respect of some serious top notch runners, including Ultramarathon legend Dean Karnazes, American 50k record-holderJosh Cox, and 2011 US Road 5k National Champion Julie Culley, among others. Oh yeah, did I mention Julie’s also one of our coaches on staff here at Pro-Activity, and coached me to a 3:02 marathon PR six months ago!


“I’ll use the ElliptiGO on my long run days or as a secondary run on workout days, I get on the ElliptiGo to add on additional miles without putting the extra miles on my legs,” says Culley. “It saves my body, helps me enjoy getting the extra work in without taking extra out of my body, and I feel more recovered for the next day. Especially if I feel like my form is starting to break down or when I’m trying to build my mileage up, it’s a gateway to getting the time in without the draining effects of those last few miles. Having dealt with my fair share of injuries and set-backs through my career, I’m a big believer in recovery, and understand how important it is to listen to your body and work hard, but be weary of teetering on the edge of pushing too hard. I believe the sooner you can recover and prepare your body for the next workout, the quicker you will progress, and the Elliptigo is a great way for me to do that.”

Soon after Julie’s endorsement, I got a note from Wes in my inbox “Elliptigo Metabolic Testing Study“, stating the Elliptigo induced similar cardiovascular output and rates of perceived exertion as running (click to read full study). I thought, “Wow, these guys are for real with this thing…. maybe time for me to give it a second look!”. So, lucky as I am, I took Wes up on a previous offer for a 12 mile demo ride…but this time I was coming a “prepared guinea pig” with my Garmin 405cx and accompanied heart rate strap. I’d see for myself if I could get enough of a cardio workout (average heart rate between 140-150 is a typical “recovery run” for me) and still have fresh legs (judged by my ability to run around “race pace” immediately following). Away we went, and the results follwed:

Important Personal Statistics & Results:

  • Distance Traveled – 12.33 Miles
  • Time – 50:12
  • Pace – 4:04 min / mile or 14.75 MPH
  • Average Heart Rate = 144
  • Max Heart Rate = 169
  • Energy Expended (Calories Burned) = Estimated 609
  • Running Miles Completely Immediately thereafter – 3 miles
  • Average Running Pace – 7:05 min / mile (5 seconds off “race pace”)
  • Estimated Environmental Impact – minimal, it’s human powered! (had to throw that in there for Earth Day people!)

Done and done…I’m a believer! In my professional opinion, the Elliptigo does in fact hold up to it’s billing! It is a fun way to workout for the “newbie” or someone looking for a different approach to outdoor exercise, especially if running is NOT your thing. And it can be a realistic training and recovery tool for those runners who have been in the game for a while (Wes), those chasing Olympic dreams (Julie), and the “slow to jump” professional out there who wouldn’t mind a little performance boost (me). In fact, I’ve become such a believer that I’m co-championing an effort with Wes and “Run-on-1” to officially bring Elliptigo to Pro-Activity’s BaseCamp 31 training facility, giving clients and passer-by’s an opportunity to test it out for themselves. And if you’re as “MOVED” as we were, consider joining us in celebration of environmentally clean “Human Powered” energy as we Ellipti-GO-GREEN on May 18th, 2012 as featured in the “CONNECT” article this month!

For more information on the EllpitiGO or to schedule a demo ride go to http://runon1.com/. Check out additional product specifications HERE

Happy and Healthy Training…and in this case, no worries, your new “E-GO” won’t get in the way!


-Eric E.

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Finding Inspiration in Others…

Well, you guys did it…I’m totally flattered.  The response from you all, my readers, to last week’s Boston Marathon recap blog was unbelievable, and it’s important that I publicly express my thanks and gratitude for your kind words, and positive feedback.  From the facebook comments, tweets & retweets, those of you who went out of your way to make mention in passing, send email, or even make mention of me in your own blog…..to the individual who shared the blog with his sister’s running club, the college kid who sent his positive feedback home here via his mom, and to my father-in-law, a very well respected NJ athletic coach in his own right, and all of the colleagues he shared it with who said, “our North Hunterdon athletes should read this”…..I couldn’t be more honored to know that in some small way, my story may have inspired a few or shed a positive light on your day.

And while, if you’re like me and giving compliments & positive feedback doesn’t exactly come easy, please know that by doing so, you’ve helped me take one step further in fulfilling my personal mission:To Live Each Day with: Uncompromising COMMITMENT to family and personal integrity, Relentless DRIVE to identified goals , a Sincere PASSION for bringing out the best in others, and the Courage to pursue EXCELLENCE, taking PRIDE in both work & play.”

So thank you to each and everyone of you who have taken an interest, shown support, and continue to follow along with me as I strive to live my mission.  You should know that I will continue to give my best, and although I am so very happy to share inspiration when given the opportunity… I’m constantly pulling more than I could ever give from all of you, the amazing community that surrounds me….and for that, I am forever grateful!

Please take a moment to watch the video below of Libbie W. – a friend, client, and member of our “Family of Athletes” at Pro-Activity.  Libbie, you inspire me!  Thank you!

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A Humbling Journey Can Be Most Rewarding – Boston Marathon 2012 Recap

In April of 2011 I was ready to rock…had trained like a mad man and was so incredibly excited to run my first Boston Marathon.  My physical fitness was in a great spot, and my mental fitness may have been even better.  Each workout leading up to the race was another step forward toward my goal of a PR…and I rarely struggled to “bring it”.  The results followed….a 3:04:45 performance and another “BQ” (Boston Qualifying time), and a 5 minute and 15 second PR, but still no sub 3 performance…which has been the lifelong running goal.

Shortly thereafter my sister-in-law(s) Lindsay and Stephanie and their excitement, maybe unknowingly, convinced me to run the Marine Corps marathon in October.  More training….more workouts…more focus…more discipline…a professional runner as my coach and personal pacer for the day….another PR (3:02:00) but still no sub-3. By the time 2012 rolled around, and I added in some life changes (mainly an 8 lb. 5 oz addition), I was pretty burnt on this whole marathon thing, and even more so…the training to be prepared.  I’d get through the workouts I had to, but only because I had to.  I’d avoid the track whenever I could, and cut a mile off the warm-up here, a mile off the cool down there….anything I could do to just get it done.  Needless to say it wasn’t exactly the most conducive training plan to a blistering marathon pace.  And worse yet, I had lost my passion for running….and had forgotten why I got so hooked on the distance events in the first place.

In the weeks leading up to this past Monday, the 116th running of the Boston Marathon, I found myself almost wishing it was behind me….and then last Thursday it finally started to hit me…..it was as if my conscience swooped out of my head and gave me a much needed slap across the face….”Get over yourself, you idiot!….This is the freaking Boston Marathon we’re talking about…this is an honor and a privilege!” I quickly came to the realization that I was being a selfish, whiny, baby….I mean seriously….people train their entire life to get a chance to run in this race…and here I am doing it for my second year in a row.  And after a great discussion with my brother Mike on Friday night, that wasn’t intended to be a pep talk but resulted in one for me…an inspirational “tweet” from my sister Amy….and countless emails, texts, facebook comments, etc. from my endurance club members, family and friends….I started to remember that I didn’t get into this marathon thing just for personal records and self accomplishment…but to embrace and model a lifestyle that represents health, fitness, discipline, and perseverance…..a lifestyle that embraces challenge as an opportunity for accomplishment….and maybe most importantly of all….a lifestyle that facilitates community and kinship with others via time shared together on the “road less traveled”….literally!

By the time I was on the bus to “Athlete’s Village” (the staging area where 26,000 marathoners hang out for 2 hours prior to the gun), I finally had my head in the right place.  While Saucony has their athletes promoting a brilliant advertising campaign and “Finding Their Strong”….I was determined to instead, “Find My Fun”….something I had lost sometime between this year and last.

Now, knowing my training wasn’t what it’s been in the past, and my fitness had followed suit…my plan was to simply enjoy myself, control my heart rate so as to not get wrapped up in the adrenaline rush (who me? Imagine that!), and stay at a comfortable pace….my estimation was that this would be at heart rate of 165 and a pace somewhere in the low 7’s.  But when developing this strategy and figuring these calculations I had failed to factor in one very important thing…..the weather forecast in Boston this past Monday was calling for record highs of 89 degrees throughout the race….yikes!  Now I’ve run a marathon in decent temperature before…in the 70’s at West Palm Beach Marathon in 2010….but nothing like this.  I knew the sun would take it’s toll, but wasn’t exactly sure just how much….so I promised myself that I’d keep my heart rate at 170 or less…knowing that this was probably a bit too high to run the whole race, but was still safe.

I guess I should have given the sun and heat more credit than I did since I was getting emails the day prior to Monday from the Boston Athletic Association encouraging participants to either defer to another year, or cut their pace by 2 minutes.  Holy cow…would I really have to run a 9 minute pace…no way!…Or would I?  We shall see…..

As I, and roughly 1,000 other runners, squeezed into corral #4 at the starting line at 10am, race officials were announcing it had already eclipsed 80 degrees…and you could feel it climbing quickly…and within a few minutes, we were off.  Now, one of the draw backs of starting in a corral based on a time you ran at your peak fitness is that the people in there are likely going to run about the same pace and are targeting a 3 hr marathon (6:52 / mile pace).  And while this group went cautiously slower out of the gates (by their standards) we were still running 7:15’s on the slight downhill out of Hopkinton without a ton of effort.  I was actually feeling pretty good….but almost instantly (actually at .79 miles) my heart rate was at 173 beats.  I cautiously continued on…..after all, had I slowed, I would have likely been trampled.

The first few miles flew by as they normally do in marathons….but this year, in the spirit of the “Find My Fun” I made sure to keep the headphones out of my ears so I could hear the crowds…. slap hands with each of the small children cheering on the sides, and look around at all the spectators.  My pace slowly started to creep from 7:15’s to 7:25’s between the 5k and 10k (mile 6.2) marks, and by mile 8, I was really starting to feel the heat, and the heart rate continued between 170-176.  Now keep in mind, when I go all out on a flat 5k course at a 5:30 pace, my typically heart rate peaks at 182…so clearly the heat was a major factor.  Thankfully race officials had ensured water / gatorade at every mile marker, and the incredible support from the spectators who filled the sidewalks the entire way, handing out extra water, spraying us with hoses, etc. gave us a little reprieve as we trekked on.

By the half marathon mark my pace continued to slow to a 7:33 average, and the heart rate maintaining around 173…at this point, I was in search of ice….it was hot… I was enjoying the spectators, looking forward to seeing my wife Amy and friend Wes (at mile 16), but my main focus was on finding shade (fail) and finding ice.  By the Grace of God (as my Dad would say), a little boy was handing out ice bags from a cooler…and I gave him the biggest smile I could muster.  It was like finding a freaking pot of gold…I couldn’t believe how thankful I was…and for the next couple of miles, I carried the ice in the palms of my hands (a trick I learned from my “Ironman” brother who completed Ironman St. George last year in 90-100 degree heat!).

Now as I was running, and keeping a close eye on things…both the external environment and what was going on in my internal world….I decided that as soon as I saw Amy and Wes, I was going to take a break….drink some gatorade, give Amy a sweaty hug and kiss, and hang a little…letting my heart rate come down substantially before tackling the dreaded hills in Newton Mass..that culminates with Heartbreak Hill.  Unfortunately the damn Red Sox and all their fans (there is always a home game on Boston Marathon day) crowded the T-train so much that Amy and Wes couldn’t even get out to mile 16.  It was a slight heart break prior to the hill…..and so at mile 17.5, just after the first of the three hills in Newton….I took a good long walk….4 minutes and 27 seconds to be exact (aren’t Garmin watches great!)…and my body thanked me….heart rate down to 129!  It gave me a chance to think about all the people back home rooting for me, probably wondering why my pace had dropped so much, worrying about me in the heat, and hoping for the best.  And then, as you might expect, I got a little prideful, and promised myself that no matter how many times I’d have to walk from then on…one thing was for sure, I’d be running each of the hills in Netwon including Heartbreak hill at Boston College as a tribute to those rooting from home.

But before I got to that…and while I was enjoying my little stroll…smiling and joking with spectators

on the way….I have to admit to something that’s not easy for me to say (little inside family joke here, but I think you’ll get it)….at about mile 19, I became the 2nd Eisenhart male to get “Pink Tu-Tu’ed!  Yup, that’s right…the man you see to the right passed me on the hill just before Heartbreak.  I smiled and chuckled to myself, thinking of my brother Mike and his kids who heckled him for allowing this guy to pass him.  But take nothing away from Mike or this guy for that matter….although he may look a little…..ah confused…..he’s a great runner, and incredibly consistent.
Soon after being “tu-tu’ed”, I was upon Boston College and Heartbreak hill…my younger brother Greg’s alma matter.  I vividly remember my time there in 2011…a spot where I quickly saw my family and heard the “rebel yell” my Dad had made famous in his sons’ wrestling days throughout the state of NJ.  I remember pumping my fist to them last year, and getting choked up seeing them.   But this year, BC and Heartbreak hill brought some of the most fun in the 2012 Boston Marathon for me.  You see, like my younger brother Greg, who bleeds maroon and gold, the BC students are amazingly passionate.  They holler and scream…they jump up and down (likely after many morning beverages), and they get you going….and I have no doubt that for the years he was there (except the year he decided to walk on the Boston Marathon and run it with limited training…psycho…just sayin’) Greg was right in the mix.  So when passing BC, I thought of Greg…and it pumped me up….and before I knew it…I was literally running and screaming “Yeah BC, Yeah BC, Yeah BC” as I smacked hands along the way….and the place erupted!  It was like there they were…desperately trying to cheer on the exhausted runners who had just crested Heartbreak hill….and the runners couldn’t give them anything back…..but me…..I had found my fun again…and I was ready to share!  10k to go.
The last 6 miles were pretty brutal…..no shade….had already been out there for 2 hours and 45 minutes and the estimated temperature was 87 plus…and I started thinking it might make sense to walk the water stops, or at least every other….my heart rate remained in the low 170’s but now each step started feeling like someone was taking a ball peen hammer to my quads…..and then, something pretty special happened.  At the time, I didn’t think anything of it……I saw another runner in a pretty bad spot so I thought I’d extend a hand and see if I could help him out.  I asked him his name, and heard a mumbled “Frank”, and told him “Ok Frank, let’s finish this together” as I helped him off the curb.  He wasn’t looking great…and my initial thought was just fatigue….but after a few first very swurvy steps…I realized Frank was in a much worse spot then I had originally thought….and we

quickly sat back down.  Almost immediately Frank started moaning in pain, complaining that he thought he would vomit and I ordered a spectator to run back to the mile marker (about .5 miles back) for help, and I’d wait with him.  My best guess is that Frank was suffering from heat exhaustion or possibly hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) and we got a little gatorade in him while waiting for the med techs.  And about 8 minutes later…they arrived (turns out Frank had recently been in the med tech tent and had left) and after a quick phone call to Amy to let her know I was fine, but had stopped to help someone…I was on my way.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time…after thinking about the situation with Frank for the last few days, it is a prime example of what’s so great about long distance endurance sports….while it seems every man for themselves (and probably still is at the elite level)…for those of us that are the “every man”….it’s “every man for every man”.  It’s a community….and we don’t just do it for ourselves…but are here for each other.  I got the opportunity to help this day, but I have no doubt that had I been sitting on the curb, and Frank was in my shoes…he (or someone like him) would have stopped at my side as well.
And then….onto the finish!  The last mile of the Boston Marathon is unlike any race or athletic experience I’ve witnessed.  There are literally tens of thousands of spectators smashed onto the sidewalks cheering on amateurs like me…people that are unpaid…un-sponsored or endorsed…just your average every day Joe’s and Jane’s doing extraordinary things.  Last year I ran the last mile ( in a time that felt) so fast and was in so much pain I couldn’t even tell you what it looked like…I just wanted it over.
This year….I took it all in.  Waiving my hands and pumping my fists….blowing Amy a kiss and sending a thumbs up to Wes… raising my hands up offering thanks and honor to God for keeping me safe and allowing me the opportunity to partake in such an amazing event….and then in the last 100 yards….coming in for a perfect landing.

It was a bit humbling to run 40 minutes slower than my previous PR in the marathon distance…heat or no heat…but I’m confident that there was much more to this race then the finish time at the 26.2 mile destination…there was a much bigger reason for me to slow down and focus on fun.  The journey allowed me to regain some passion for distance running,  live it up at BC, and help a friend in need. I’m not sure when my next marathon will be (hopefully the 2013 Boston Marathon), and I’m not sure if I’ll go at it hard and try to go sub 3….or if I’ll just have some fun again…but one thing is for sure – I’ll be sure not to forget that the journey IS THE REWARD!
Thank you friends and family for your support, thoughts, prayers, and love that…as always…helped carry me through.
(credit to marathonfoto.com for the photo proofs)
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