Sunday, July 31, 2011

San Francisco Marathon

Endorphin Dude & The Chiweenie!

When I crossed the finish line of last year's San Francisco Marathon, my inaugural 26.2 miler, I feared that the intensity of runner's high would send me into cardiac arrest.  My heart pounded so hard I thought it would register on the Ritcher scale. It felt so surreal to me. That out of body experience felt like one big fantasy, but it quickly become a reality when the finish line volunteer put that medal around my neck.  I looked at the shiny object and proudly announced, "I AM A MARATHON MAN!"  I never thought that feeling could ever be duplicated again, but exactly that happened today at that same finish line one year later.

Unless you've been living in a remote village somewhere out in the mountains of northern Vietnam, you probably know the Endorphin Dude story.  For those new to the Endorphin Empire, I'll give a quick recap.  Two and a half years ago, a heart attack scare served as a wake up call for your marathon caped crusader.  I knew I had to make some changes or else I wouldn't be able to live past age 37. I took my dog for a walk around the block. That short walk eventually turned into multi-mile urban hikes with the dog. I then started to jog, and before I knew it, I was running. A year later, I dropped a huge chunk of weight, was weaned off all meds, and discovered this little thing called running.

I believe I tipped the scale at 223 pounds in the picture on the left.

In July 2009, I headed out to the Embarcadero in San Francisco to cheer on some friends running the marathon.  Mind you, I knew nothing about running back then, and I actually thought that a full marathon was only 10 miles.  When I saw the look of pride on every runner's face as they crossed the finish line, I felt that second hand runner's high in the air. Endorphins ran amok. Something in my heart snapped, and I found myself proclaiming that I wanted that runner's high for myself. I boldly stated right there and then--in front of witnesses--that I was going to run the 2010 San Francisco Marathon!  Over the next year, I trained my butt off and on July 25, 2010, I crossed the finish line of my very first full marathon.  One year later, I did it again, and it felt like the first time all over again.

The 2011 San Francisco Marathon marked my two year anniversary of running.  The funny thing is that my first marathon was supposed to have been my last.  It was supposed to have been my one and done bucket list race, but somewhere along the way I got hooked.  In two short years, I became a Marathon Maniac and Half Fanatic, completed 6 ultra marathons, 23 marathons, and 39 half marathons, and really made a name for myself in the marathon community. Who would have thought that the fat kid who always got picked last in PE would be where he is today? I am Endorphin Dude and my life got awesome when I put on that first pair of Mizunos and took my first shot of GU. Running has completely changed me, and I seriously do not want to stop.

By now, you probably figured out that San Francisco is *MY* marathon.  This weekend was all about celebrating Endorphin Dude's rite of passage from couch potato to marathon super hero, and I enjoyed every second of it.  From the expo to the carbo load dinner to the actual race, I cherished every moment.  Here is a photographic recap of my incredible marathon weekend.

The slogan this year is "worth the hurt."  Indeed it is!
So I walked up to Marshall Ulrich at the expo and said, "Do you remember me from The Modesto Marathon? I gave you a big hug at the finish line. I was the guy in the cape." He looked at my shirt and said, "That's right, Endorphin Dude! You were the only one smiling, everyone else looked like they were in pain." It was raining hard that day and after 7 hours on the course, nobody looked happy!
Who wants to see Endorphin Dude in a running skirt?
After the Bad Bass 5k, Denver Michelle and I went to the expo!
Guess who showed up to The Endorphin Dude Marathon Carbo Load Dinner?  That's right, Mr. Bart Yasso, that's who!  Ultra Woof invited him and he said yes.  What a treat.
What an awesome bunch.
Mad Hatter Fancy Pants singing Wabbitz's Marathon Maniac shirt.
Good Morning Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics!
The start line. Endorphin Dude is in wave two with the elites!
E-Dude and Jessica Wabbitz!
Ah yes, my running partners of the day, Stephanie and Ultra Woof.  Running across that Golden Gate Bridge is pretty amazing.
This was a training run for Hector. The following weekend he ran the Headland Hundred!
There's Sharon!  We met at the Salinas Valley Marathon last year.  She said she was running it again, so the two of us will celebrate our one year marathon anniversary in Salinas!
Chris Bliss not only made signs, but she brought Chewbacca out to cheer!
Here we are right before heading to the half way mark.
Here's an amazing person.  Algis has pancreatic cancer.  He contacted me last year and said what gets him through chemotherapy is reading my blog.  He decided to run his first marathon, and chose San Francisco to be it.  We met up at this race.  Check it out, this guy runs barefooted!
Oh Poop.  I could have used a different four letter word that means the same thing, but I refrained!
There's the 5 hour pacer, Patrick!
Of course, we had to take a pic with The Walking Diva herself, Miss Yolanda Holder.
I got to play Dr. Dude throughout the second half of the course.  Stephanie's ankle was killing her.  Ultra Woof and I were not going to leave her behind.  We stuck together to the very end, and it was so worth it.  
Maniac Girls!
Loved the cheering section on the Haight.
Andrea qualified for Marathon Maniacs with this race!
And there's my buddy Jon, the 5:45 pacer.  I'm so glad we didn't see him earlier!
Two For His Heels!  The Cribbage Crew comes out to cheer on E-Dude!
Finish line shot.
And there's the July Endorphin Dudette, Miss Nadia Ruiz!
Woo Hoo!

Only at The San Francisco Marathon will you ever see me not ham it up for the paparazzi at the finish line. The final .2 mile stretch of this race is my moment, and I "sing like no one's listening, love like I've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like its heaven on earth." - Mark Twain. If I could bottle up this feeling and sell it, I would be a gazillionaire.

Titanium scoreboard: 22 down, 30 to go.

When I see my two San Francisco Marathon medals, all I think about is how I no longer have to inject insulin into my body. I have come a very long way, and I am very proud of the person I have become.  A healthy dude is a happy dude.  Life is sweet.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bad Bass 5k

Seriously, how cool is this medal?

This is the most important weekend of my running life: San Francisco Marathon Weekend!  As you all know, I ran my very first full marathon here in my home town one year ago, and that was truly a defining moment in my life.  Fast forward one year and I'm ready to do it again.  This is my marathon and this weekend is not just about running 26.2 miles, but about celebrating life, good health, and happiness.  I wanted to be well rested for this huge event so that I could fully enjoy every kilometer of *MY* marathon.  Why then did I choose to run a 5k the day before?  Because I am a bling whore, and there's no denying it.  I ran the Bad Bass 5k just for the medal.  Come on, look at that bad ass Bad Bass fish on that medal!  I had to have it!

True confessions: to say that I "ran" this race would be a gross fallacy.  I walked it.  No, to say that I walked it would be another false statement!  Let's just say that I got through this 5k in just a little under two hours.  Along with my partner in crime, Ultra Woof, and my long time Denver running buddy Michelle, we strolled our way through Lake Chabot like little old ladies at the grocery store.  There was no point in tiring out our bodies before the San Francisco Marathon, and we sure had a lot of fun out there.  It didn't matter to us that most of the 10k'ers finished before us.  Heck, it didn't phase us when some of the half marathoners got to the finish line before us!  And you know what?  We didn't even bat an eye when a six year old girl and a four year old boy passed us up!  It was all about having fun, and the three of us had exactly that!

Paparazzi!  Gotta make it "look" like we're running!
This was the "Western States" portion of the race.
Gotta get the BQ!  Who am I kidding, I was running for the BBQ.
Finish line!  We did it!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Presidio Cross Country 5k

It took me 8 hours to get home from Southern California, but I was determined to get home so that I could run the Presidio Cross Country 5k with my running club.  I need to complete 10 races with DSE by the end of the year so that I will be eligible for the Mongo Trophy!  Yes, I am a bling whore, what can I say.  I made it home a little after midnight and woke up early on Sunday morning to get to The Presidio.  I met up with Ultra Woof, "Weird Haired Mom" and her kids, and all my DSE Peeps.

You gotta love this shot.  I told the kids to do something funny and this is what they gave me!

It took my about an hour to get this very hilly 5k done.  At one point it was all uphill in sand! This was not an easy course, especially after having run a full marathon the day before.  I'm glad I was able to get this recovery run in.  My alarm clock was my worst enemy this morning, but I'm glad I got out of bed to run this race!

Woo Hoo! After the race, we all went to breakfast!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Marathon Show Marathon

I am exhausted.  I am so tired that I cannot come up with a race report to save my life.  Hey, cut me some slack, I was up before the crack of dawn to get to the start line at 3am.  Yes, 3am start time.  I ran the marathon in the dark and after I crossed the finish line, I drove 425 miles back home to run another race the next day.  To top it off, I was stuck in LA traffic for hours!

Because I am so exhausted, I am going to steal the description of this race from The Marathon Show website.  I know the host, so I don't think he'll mind.  I hope he doesn't mind!  I will give him full credit!  Ladies and Gentle Peeps of the Endorphin Empire, I give you the host of The Marathon Show, Mr. Joe Taricani!  Voila:

Back row from left to right: Jessica Wabbitz, Elizabeth McKay, Chewbacca, Endorphin Dude, Yolanda "Walking Diva" Holder, Jim Simpson, Marina "Vasolina" White, Ryan Launder.  Front Row from left to right: Dianasaur Kitching, Andrea Kooiman, Luigi Giovanni, Joe Taricani.

The Marathon Show Marathon was held July 23, 2011 in Newport Beach, CA. The race was billed as “Small, Free, Fun and Different.” The race was hosted by The Marathon Show host, Joe Taricani in his neighborhood. The race was 100% free and people registered on a first-come, first-served basis. It was certainly small – only 11 people started the race. What made it different was the manner in which the race was started. Everyone ran with a goal of finishing at 10:00 am which meant people started running between 2:50 am and 6:00 am. The race was run on a 3.03 mile loop course so everyone got to visit on the course a couple times. “We finished in a city park, sat in the shade and celebrated together as everyone came across the finish line,” said Joe. With thanks to Allied Running Medal Hangers in Redmond, WA, each participant was given a special chrome medal in the shape of The Marathon Show logo.

There's Endorphin with the race director, Mr. Marathon Show himself, Joe Taricani.  Chewbacca ran this race bandit and cranked out a 10k!

I had a great time running this race.  I got to hang out with a bunch of my Marathon Maniac friends and I got to meet some new runners.  I liked the intimacy of this small race and I loved that we all finished at the same time.  Well, almost.  People did wait around for Endorphin Dude and The Epinephrine Pup to finish.  I also liked that we got super cool medals.  I really wasn't expecting anything, so to have such a shiny piece of bling around my neck is awesome.  Thanks Joe for putting on this race.  I hope you do it again soon!

Titanium score board: 21 down, 31 to go!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cool Moon 24 Hour Run

The Plan:  Endorphin Dude drives from San Francisco to Oakland to pick up Ultra Woof.  We leave Oakland at 9pm and arrive in Sacramento by 11pm.  Sleep in a Motel 6 and head to race early in the morning.

What Actually Happened: 11pm, the Mini Cooper is packed with ultra gear, we're plugging along on I-80, and then chug chug chug chug ka-plowy!  Yes, I realize that my onomatopoeia for the tire exploding may look cartoonish in writing, but believe me, the actual incident was pretty extreme. The rear passenger tire of the Mini exploded, and the impact was so intense it ripped off a chunk of the bumper, shattered the brake lights, and mangled up the side panel. Thankfully, we were near an exit and were able to safely make to a gas station in Vacaville.  Sadly, Ultra Woof and I were halfway to Sacramento, so this minor setback not only put a dent in my car, but also in our spirits!  

Fortunately, I had just renewed my AAA roadside assistance and was able to get the Mini towed back to San Francisco, some 60 miles away.  Chris Bliss, the chiweenie's doggie nanny, rescued us by coming out, loading all our stuff into her car, and driving Ultra Woof back to her place in Oakland while I had my car towed to the other side of the bay.  My running partner in crime then crossed the bridge to pick me up in San Francisco and we headed back to Sacramento.  We finally arrived at about 5am.  Oh, did I mention that we got pulled over because the Woof-mobile's brake lights weren't working? Boy oh boy.

In any case, we made to Sacramento in one piece and were able to squeeze in a two hour nap before our 24 hour ultra race.  The math just doesn't add up: 2 hour sleep before a 24 hour race.  Oh boy!  To top it off, the 9 mile loop was a treacherous course!  To complete the loop, we had to climb steep rocky hills, hop from stone to stone Frogger style to cross a creek, and run through snake infested and horse manure filled "Lovely Bones" fields.  For those unfamiliar with the Lovely Bones reference, this was a book and film about a 14 year old girl who was murdered in the fields very much like the one we had to walk through.  Ultra Woof was quite disturbed by this.  I don't blame her, because honestly, I was a bit perturbed by this too.  Even in broad daylight, a serial killer could very well be lurking in those fields, and if anyone fell prey to him or her, their screams would not be heard.  Imagine being out there at 2am under the pale moon light. Think I'm being over dramatic, just ask Ultra Woof and she'll tell you just how unnerving it was!  In any case, the Cool Moon 24 Hour Run course is by far the toughest course I've ever set my Mizuno-clad feet on.

The start.
Dennis Mori and Ernie Nunes.  These two are every race.  Notice the rocky terrain.  This was actually the flat portion.  There was one section where the rocky hills felt like they went for miles!
Ready for a game of Frogger?  Notice the giant chop sticks in my hands.  More on that later.
I wasn't lying about the snakes!
Ah yes, the lovely bones.

My goal for the weekend was to hit 50k, the bare minimum number of mileage for Marathon Maniac qualification.  Ultra Woof wanted to hit 100.  The problem was that this course was pretty intense during the day, one can only imagine what it would be like at night.  I told my running partner in crime that I would do my best to pace her through the night.  In theory, this sounded like the perfect plan, but in practice, it was very difficult.  It took roughly four hours to complete each of the 9 mile loop, and as the day went on, it lingered longer and longer. 

The good news is that Endorphin Dude discovered the chop sticks, thanks to Ultra Woof and Dianasaur!  These two have been using sticks for some time and Woofie introduced me to them this weekend.  Endorphin Dude caught on to the stick quite quick!  This marathon caped crusader flew with those chop sticks, pulling in an 11 minute pace after mile 28 up rocky terrain at 2am! It was a very liberating feeling.  The sticks helped me make it through the night, which I desperately needed.  Night time at Cool proved to be quite interesting.

You can call me Stick Boy.
This way?
Endorphin Dude and Ultra Woof with Ultra Royalty Ed "Mad Hatter Fancy Pants" Ettinghausen.
This lake started out as puddle at the beginning of the day.
And delirium kicks in...

That final loop took us over 6 hours to complete.  Crazy things happened.  I'll be writing a book about this race one of these days, and in it I will give all the gory details.  For the purpose of brevity in this blog, I will only bullet point these strange happenings:
  • I swear, we didn't smoke any shrooms, but dude, the flora kept growing and growing!  What started as a flower turned into a tree by 4am!  I know it wasn't delirium because we witnessed this phenomenon throughout the day.  Very Alice in Wonderland.
  • The sticks pumped up my upper body, and by midnight I felt like the Incredible Pussy Cat Hulk.  I MEOWED at the moon!  This clearly is an inside joke, and I bet most of you are confused by this.  Just go with it.  I'll explain in detail in the forthcoming book.
  • Mad Hatter Fancy Pants, Mr. Badwater 135 Marathons In One Year Guinness Book Record Holder, was completely dejected by midnight.  He plopped himself in a chair at the aid station and asked Ultra Woof and I if he could walk with us the final six miles of our fourth loop.  The guy looked beat, so we figured we would all be at the same pace.  WRONG!  That jester's walk pace is our running pace!  We had to politely and diplomatically ask him to keep moving ahead!
  • There was the invasion of the sticky burs which crept into Ultra Woofs skirt when she squatted during a bio break.  Perhaps this had something to do with the "presence" that she felt earlier.  The girl was spooked.
  • There was the slip of the foot and Endorphin Dude went rolling down a hill.
  • There were noises in the night. Were there wild bores roaming the trails of the Sierra Nevada?  Or was it really just bull frogs?
Together, we toiled to get done with those 6 miles done.  Ultra Woof and I finished that fourth loop at about 5am.  When we crossed that finish line, I said, "NO MORE!"  We had been out there for 21 hours and my body just couldn't handle it any more.  Ultra Woof was ok with that.  She did not get her 100 miles, but she did manage to squeak out 37.  There's certainly no shame in that.  The two of us devoured all the food we saw in sight, packed up the Woof mobile, and headed back to the Motel 6 for a nap before heading back home.

Titanium score board: 20 down, 32 to go!

I thought the Cool Moon 24 Hour Run would be a breeze, but boy was I wrong.  Both Ultra Woof and I had to work our Camelbacks off to get to that finish line.  I'm glad I got my 36 miles in, because it's 5 more miles than what I came in to do!  Most importantly, I am injury free and healthy, and I'm back on track to hit Titanium.  The rest of the year will be very challenging, but I'm ready to take the bull by its horns!