Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lake Tahoe Marathon

Marathon #4 is in the books! I had to pull out all the stops to finish this race. Lake Tahoe kicked my Endorphin butt. I had to deal with altitude sickness and "The Hill From Hell" and at times, I seriously considered the DNF. However, I kept plugging along and finished this grueling marathon in 8:53:47. Not bad, considering that I walked the final nine miles!

It was a beautiful morning in Tahoe City. I got up at 5am and didn't freeze! I had my long sleeve tech shirt underneath my Marathon Maniacs shirt, but I removed it because it was so nice out. When I arrived at the start line, I was greeted by two of my favorite marathoners, Yolanda and MG. You may recall, these two helped me get across that Extraterrestrial Highway finish line. Just when I thought I was going to lose it at mile 25, these two came back out to walk me back to the finish. Guardian Angels, I'm telling ya!

For the first mile, I walked with Christine Clark, one of Endorphin Dude's honorary "Moving Molecules". Christine attempted to complete the full marathon, but by mile 12 or so, she cramped up so bad that she couldn't move anymore. She ended up pulling out at the halfway mark, which was the smart thing to do. Christine could have put herself in serious danger climbing "The Hill From Hell". I had a rough time with it, and I am not asthmatic like she is. I'm glad she listened to her body. The awesome news is that Christine did finish the half marathon, and Lake Tahoe was #6 for her! Congratulations Christine!

The first half of this marathon was a lot of fun for me. I loved running along the lake and soaking in the scenery. Every so often, I would stop at the aid stations and schmooze with the volunteers. It's really funny to me when I see people do a double take when I run by. It must be the cape! I was cruising along the first 15 miles, chilling out and having a good time. Then I saw the sign: "6300' Welcome Hill From Hell." Really Tahoe?

Of course, the race directors taunted us further with the following signs:

It was awful. But I kept plugging along and eventually I made it to heaven. Ah, heaven. Unfortunately, it didn't feel too much like heaven because the altitude got to me, and I started to feel a little light headed. Nonetheless, I kept plugging along.

At about mile 17, I had to pull over. I sat on a tree stump rested for a bit when I heard my name. I turned around and saw Marathon Mitch, a fellow maniac! Marathon Mitch said he spotted the cape and had to stop to say hello. I had never meet this guy in person yet, so this was perfect timing!

Unfortunately, after Marathon Mitch and I greeted each other and took our picture, the altitude really got to me, and I had to let it all out. I spread endorphins all over Lake Tahoe! Unfortunately, those endorphins came in the form of GU, Cytomax, and other various aid station snacks that I shoved down my throat. My body was not liking the altitude. The embarrassing thing is that I really didn't have any privacy. But marathoners understand, so I received a lot of support from the runners. One lady even stopped and gave me ginger to calm my stomach. Of course, I had to take a picture with her. Thanks random lady!

After my little episode on that tree stump, I had to listen to my body and stop running. I knew that if I continued to do so, I would put my health in serious danger. I seriously considered the DNF, but after a few deliberations in my head, I decided to just walk it off and take it easy. I strolled along and took pictures of the lake.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake to eating some candy at the aid station near Emerald Bay, and as a result, I had to pull over again to release some endorphins. So much for keep Tahoe blue! The scary thing is that I did so on the section of the road where there was no shoulder. I felt like I was hurling over a cliff.

After I finished my business, I used my Endorphin Dude head band to clean myself up. I know that was probably too much information, but I'm stating this because it's relevant. When all was said and done, I put the head band back on upside down! That's how out of it I was. I looked like a sad little super hero.

By mile 20, I knew that I just had to stay focused and keep plugging long. I only had a little 10k left! So I kept inching along. By this time, the road was reopened for oncoming traffic. I made sure that drivers saw me as I walked on the side of the road. Mentally, I started to crumble, and physically, my body was shot. What saved me was seeing fellow Marathon Maniac, Xtreme Mike, at mile 23, a random geisha at mile 24, and the family who walked a bit with me towards the finish line. These people got my mind off my pain and helped push me along.

By the time I reached mile 26, I collected the little energy I had left to jog to that finish line. I couldn't believe I did it. Lake Tahoe was by far the most difficult race to date, and it took me nearly 9 hours to complete it, but I did. What got me to that finish line was not my legs. It wasn't even my mind. My heart got me there. I never gave up. And now I have a shiny piece of hardware in the shape of Lake Tahoe hanging around my neck.

Giving up is not an option for me. I knew I was in trouble, but I listened to body and and made intelligent decisions. I don't care that it took me an eternity to get there. The important thing is that I got there, and I did so safely. I am very proud.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lake Merced Half Marathon

Did I seriously just run my 24th half marathon in less than 12 months? I indeed did! The Lake Merced Half Marathon was special for me because it took place in my back yard. I didn't mean this literally, because my back yard is quite small. If I were a snail, then it would probably be considered 13.1 miles to get from one end to the other. Lake Merced is a hop, skip, and jump away from my apartment, and I was excited to run three loops around the lake. I train here, so I know the course quite well.

This race was also special because my running club was the one who put it on. I joined Dolphin South End Runners last year, and it was the best thing I've ever done for my health. Sure, I run half and full marathons all over the United States, but it's all these DSE 10ks and 4 milers that get me prepared for those longer distances. It's also nice to have such a supportive and fun group of people whom I get so excited to see every weekend!

The Lake Merced Half Marathon was not an easy run for me. I have to admit, I got a little cocky this morning. I thought that I would not have any problems with this course and that I was easily going to PR. Boy was I wrong! I cramped up early on, so I had to do a lot of walking to get my legs back into the groove. I also got a little dehydrated, which, in the end, slowed me down further. Thank Goodness there were water stations near by! I struggled a bit, but the important thing is that I pulled through with a 2:45:36. When I cramped up at mile 2, I was only aiming for a 3 hour finish, so I was happy with the 2:45 finish! This gives me confidence going into next weekend's Lake Tahoe Marathon. Wow, two lakes in a row! I'm still scratching my head.

I have to ask this question again: Did I seriously just run my 24th half marathon? I sure did! WOO HOO!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon

I traveled to the other side of the country to run a half marathon this Labor Day weekend. I think this may be a sign that I am addicted to running. Who goes across the country to run a race? Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs, that's who!

The Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon marked my 23rd half marathon in 11 months. The funny thing is that one year ago, I ran my very first 5k. I've come a long way! This half marathon also earned me the Super 6 medal for having completed six Rock & Roll events in one calendar year. Another milestone to add my list of accomplishments! I am now only one race shy of taking home that much coveted Rock Legend medal, and I will be doing that in San Jose in four weeks.

Getting to Virginia Beach was a huge challenge for me, thanks to Hurricane Earl. Unfortunately, all flights to Virginia were canceled on Thursday night due to weather, so I had to spend the night in New Jersey. I returned to the airport the following day at 6am hoping to get on the 8am flight. No luck. So I waited around to catch the 12pm flight. No cigar. Thankfully, I was confirmed for the 3:30pm flight. The only problem was that it was that the expo closed at 6pm, so it was going to be a mad dash to get to convention center from the airport. Luckily, I didn't get too lost and was able to make it there on time! Very stressful. My original plan of flying in on Friday night and spending all day Saturday hanging out in Virginia Beach got foiled by Earl! Damn you Earl! Oh well, can't really fight with Mother Nature.

I have to admit, I was pretty tired on race day. On top of wearing myself out, running around from terminal to terminal and gate to gate hoping to catch a flight, I had also just run two consecutive marathons the previous two weeks. By Saturday night, I felt beat up. I knew coming into this race that I was not going to put up the kind of numbers that I am used to seeing. Nonetheless, I was very excited to run my 23rd half marathon, and the added bonus came in the form of two Rock & Roller friends of mine, Katie and Kevin, whom I finally got to meet in person. These two are superstars. They are completing the entire rock & roll series this year!

For the most part, I felt comfortable on the course. However, by mile eight or so, it began to get really hot. I didn't want to put my body at risk, so I slowed down to a walk and continued to hydrate myself. At times, I really wished I had my Camelbak with me, but I made do with the aid stations, which were awesome.

I had a lot of fun with the spectators and volunteers too, often stopping to take photos and high fiving them. The crowd support was overwhelming, especially when we reached the final three miles. Seeing and hearing them cheering all the runners on helped propel me to that finish line.

When I crossed the finish line, I was greeted with cheers and congratulations from the folks at Rock & Roll. It's funny, I've seen these people at every single one of these events. We've talked to each other on many occasions. I know them by name, but they only know me by my moniker, Endorphin Dude. I'll take it! One of the guys took my picture and a few hours later I see it pop up in their photo gallery. Score!

All in all, I had a great time running this race. I thought I had finished well over the three hour range, but to my pleasant surprise, my final time was 02:49:56. I'm getting pumped up for San Jose. That race will mark some major milestones for me. First of all, I will be receiving my Rock Legend medal there. Secondly, it mark my 25th life time half marathon. Furthermore, I ran my very first half marathon in San Jose, so earning the above mentioned will be special. Finally, I'll be running the San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon with my sister Diane. This will be her very first 13.1 miler, so I'm excited to pace her. It's going to be huge in San Jose.