Monday, May 02, 2011

My Music City Miracle

  I wanted to write this AM while it was fresh on my mind- the long process which culminated in my finishing the Music City Marathon this past Saturday. If you haven't figured out by now- this blog is one of the many SELFISH things I do to store into memory the beautiful life that God has granted me- there is no way that I can rationalize away that it is very narcissistic and perpetuates my human default mode of making myself  'look good'- but at the same time I have always endeavored to state things transparently and truthfully in hopes of making God shine- especially His beautiful gospel of a sinner (me) being adopted as a son!

So.... a brief background. I have run a handful of 5 and 10 k's over the course of my adult like (maybe 2 10K's and 5 5K's) and the longest 'race' I ever ran was an 8 mile run that went up and down Oak Mtn (4 miles up and 4 miles down).

All of this is wrapped up in my lifelong battle with over eating and my weight has hindered my exercise at times. ( You can read about my weight loss battle/success here Blog 1 of 3 about my weight loss ) There is also another part of this 'miracle' and that is that I have had 2 orthoscopic knee surgeries to repair torn meniscus (right knee in 2004 and left knee in 2007 Blog- Left Knee). Both times I had to endure some painful tendonitis post op and wondered if I would EVER run again. Thank you Dr's Greg and Jeff Cook at Franklin Orthopedics!

So what happened? Why? How? Would I do it again? What would I do differently?

these shoes were a big part
Of course you have to start with the weight loss. No doubt that I was carrying too much weight which put too much stress on my joints to run- so as I lost weight, it got easier and I got stronger. I also have to give credit to my VFF toe shoes. Though I DID NOT run the marathon in these shoes they were a  huge part of improving my stride and allowed me to train without any ankle,knee, or hip injuries!(I ran the marathon in Aasics Gels and they are great shoes.)

GPS watch was big as well
Another part of this background was losing my job on Dec 9, 2010. The anger of that event combined with the time I now had put me on the road running and praying. I found no better relief from the pain of that event in my life as running- the early weeks I punched the air as I ran and it helped run it out of me. I remember one run going out at 33F and just enjoying the cold blast and crying out to my Father as I just attacked the run. I also need to mention getting a Garmin GPS watch for Christmas- this watch helped me log my pace/heart rate/distance and it all downloaded on my computer. I charted maps on and having it all recorded was a great motivator.

On Jan 19, 2011, my wife and I decided to try a LONG run- we had TIME and so we went 10 miles! I can't tell you how hard that was. I took an hour and 48 minutes! I could not believe it. Was very sore the next day- but it was exhilarating to do it! I was now hooked.

I started adding a few long runs (11.5 on Jan 31 and 12.5 on Feb 26). It was close to this time that Shane Harmon (great friend and fellow coach) encouraged me to do the Marathon. I had a number of people say "Do the half"- but I was already there... Barrett Mosbacker tweeted to me "Do the FULL" . I downloaded a Hal Higdon Marathon Training program and decided to train.  I decided on March 12 to run the 26.2 on April 30 but was going to wait and pay the money until later (no refund, even if sick or injured).

I enjoyed the training- it was intermediate runs (ex: 6/8/6) with 1 off day- 1 LONG day- and 1 cross train day (which was bike riding or elliptical for me). I did 117 miles in Jan- 82 miles in Feb- 159 miles in March- and 141 in April.

I did EmergenC supplement- a lot of water- and I ATE (I gained a total of 12 lbs training for the marathon- now I have to go back on my diet for a month or so).

I also began praying that God would lead me to a charity to run for. Not long after that I was informed through Facebook that Bill Williams was hosting a pancake breakfast for Tim's Memorial Scholarship Fund and I knew right then that that was going to be an incentive and who I wanted to help. If everyone follows through with their pledge, we should raise about $2,000.00 for that great family in Ft Campbell. I ran with Tim's LOGO on my t-shirt and had a few shout outs to Ft Campbell as I ran. Psalm 27:1 is on the back of that shirt (designed by Bill Williams) and a girl asked me to quote it on the run (mile 22).

I could say more about the physical,mental, and spiritual training- but the journey IS as big as the destination. I did want to say that I read Dean Karnazes book 50/50 in which he tells the story of running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 CONSECUTIVE days! I enjoyed it immensely!

EXPO: I went on Thursday and picked up my race number and enjoyed the vendors. I wish I had spent a little more time there- it was a cool build up.

RACE DAY: It was a beautiful day, just 48 hours after the tornadoes tore up the south. I got up at 4AM- downed a bagel with honey and apple with peanut butter- I rubbed vaseline on my chaffing spots- packed my gear bag- and pulled out on the way to LP field. The traffic was bad- it took me almost 50 minutes to get to the parking lot! I got on a shuttle to the start line at 5:45 and arrived at the start line around 6AM.

I registered my gear bag (good system UPS), took ibupropen, and did one last porta john stop- I stood in the potty line for 35 minutes! I timed one guy- he was in there for 10 minutes! (how?)

To put it simply, I entered Corral #8 as they were singing the national anthem!

Now- let me stop here and say what a beautiful, incredible sight the start of the race is! I looked behind me to see the largest sea of people I have ever observed in person! And it was a gorgeous spring day!

The horn sounded and we began to move toward the start line- I started my Garmin and was off. It was a great start! Music and energy everywhere!

I kept a glance at my pace on the watch and was running effortless at about a 9:45 pace (by the way Johnny Woods gave me great advice about starting in a faster corral- I think it is god to do). My only little issue was a sore/tight right ankle that had been bothering me a little since my last 20 mile training run. But it was not pain- just a little discomfort.

I ran well- no issues- did not even feel like I was breathing hard- YES- there were hills- but they were rolling up and down- I ran the half in 2:20 and I began to think I might run under 5. My race calculator had predicted a 5:05 based on pace and fade.

NOW to the PAIN.

There was this HILL at mile 18. I noticed a lot of people walking it. I just kept chugging along (about 10:50). One cheerleader/bystander applauded- "WAY TO RUN THE HILL"- and the guy next to him said "I HOPE HE DOESN"T REGRET IT". Anyway (and my memory gets foggy here) it seems like it was a mile long uphill and I was hitting the wall. The water station was BEFORE the crest of the hill and as I grabbed the cup of water I had to start walking to drink it.

One of my race coaches (maybe Johnny?) told me "Once you start walking- it will be like crack cocaine and you will get addicted to it"- at Mile 19- I was going to have to fight this addiction for over 7 miles!

I had done GU at 5/10/15- had a small orange slice at 8- and had a sip of cytomax on 3 of the water stations- but my energy was out. It was also beginning to feel hotter (we started at 50F and the temp climbed to 82 by 11AM).

I ran to mile 20 and was fading fast (my pace had fallen to 12.5) and my legs were screaming for a walk break. No more cheering crowd- the bands were less numerous- a dead rotting possum stunk up the air- and we all became walkers and stumblers.

From mile 21 to mile 23 I did a series of 'bargains'- run a half and walk a quarter. It was during this part that we went around Shelby Bottoms and it was a pretty park- but I was in no mood to enjoy it. The hills seemed like mountains and the short downhills allowed my to get to a 11:30 pace.

Now- PANIC- I started seeing young/fit guys 'falling out' left and right. I was passed by 3 ambulances and there were runners laid out around the park with ice bags on them- I heard my wife's voice (if you get close to being over the top- slow down- no shame to walk a little)- so from 23-24.5 I walked half and ran half. BUT I WAS HURTING FROM MY FEET ALL THE WAY TO MY CHEEKS. I had nothing to make my feet move.

There were some cruel hills along the way.

At mile marker 25- I finally found a little more speed and willed myself in. I know this sounds crazy- but from Mile 26 to the finish (2 tenths of a mile) was the longest/hardest short distance I have ever run in my whole life.

I weakly raised my arms at the finish and it was over. I was OK. Got my medal- downed 2 waters and 1 cytomax in 30 seconds. Ate a banana and energy bar. Got my free food and beverage. Got my gear bag- and got in the car. It was over.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Loved it-Hated it.. I want to try it again. I can do it better.

I know I am leaving Nashville- but I realize that I DO love this city. Beautiful scenery and beautiful people. I saw Rod Thurley in the crowd and he was so encouraging! Coming back to this Marathon will provide a way to re-connect to 7 amazing years! I am a changed man since coming here 7 years ago. God has really done some work on me!


It may be just me- but I wish I had run over the distance 1 time in training- I know all the experts say just do 20- but 20-26 is a different deal- and maybe it does the body no good to go over 20- but I wished I had experienced it before.

I gained too much weight. I thought as much as I was running, it meant I could just eat like a horse- but NO- I should have tracked the scales a little more- the extra weight I think hurt me at the end. I especially should have been smarter during the tapering period.

I wish I had taken a little more time at Expo and I wish I had gone to the post-race festivities- I did make the right choice and enjoy my daughter's senior prom- but it would have been fun!

Should have done a little more hills in training. If I lived in Nashville, I would suggest doing a 15 mile run and then going to Shelby Park and running that loop while you are sore and stiff just as a mental log of how it feels. This is a hard race to prepare for because it is hard to get any temperature acclimatization during the training period.

POST RACE: It is now Monday. I went to the rec center yesterday and did a light treadmill run (2.5 miles starting at 4 mph and slowly working up to 6mph). My quads are SORE. but I rolled my legs out- took a cold bath- stretched- and feel amazingly good! I'm taking today off!

PACE:11:56 (huge fade at end)
5K- 32:27   10K:1:06:41   10 MI: 1:47:00
HALF: 2:21:34
20 MI: 3:43:59
CHIP TIME: 5:12:31
OVERALL: 2918 OUT OF 4082
GENDER: 1727 OUT OF 2249

WEIGHT LOSS- I want to be back below 190 by July 15
I want to keep a running routine of 3 medium and one long throughout the year.
Run a marathon under 5 hours ( Chicago Oct? Mercedes in Feb? Music City April?)
Run in 3 races this summer.

I also pray that the Lord will keep me healthy enough to enjoy the road!


RV Pro said...

Good Stuff, my friend. I've lost 25lbs. since March 1 with another 35 to go. I wanted to see you run and complete the event to know that just losing the weight isn't enough. I have to keep pushing my body and mind to it's limits if I want to be the best I can be. Pain is temporary, pride is forever. No one can ever take from you the fact that you trained for this and achieved it all on your own. Team success is great but the feeling of individual success, one on one with God, is unparalleled. You have conquered the marathon. Hold your head high.

Anonymous said...

Your description of the "race" is very accurate for what I experienced in my two marathons (Bham and Knoxville), especially your post race assessment of what you could have done better. I really enjoyed reading this truthful account. I'll never forget in the Bham marathon being asked on mile 20 by an old lady on the side if I was "okay"...must have really looked bad to everyone. Or in the second marathon being passed on mile 17 by this guy with a huge beer gut. And then most humbling was recounting my amazing times (4:30 and 5:12) to my college classmate who is short and stubby and thinking he would be impressed only to find out he ran the Boston in 3:30. A marathon can humble you like no other athletic event!

Frank McClung