Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reach the Beach Ragnar Relay 2014

Confirmation that runners are truly insane is volunteering to participate in a 207 mile relay race. I was invited to join a team running in this year’s Reach the Beach run in New Hampshire that goes from Cannon Mountain at 2000 odd feet down to Hampton Beach and, oh yeah, it was an experience.

If you don't know what one of these relay events are like, this is how it works:

The first thing you do is get a team of 12 runners together and split them up into two groups of 6 runners, each group has a van. Preferably, each group of 6 can get along pretty well with each other - and this is important, because each group is going to spend the better part of the next 24 to 40 hours in very close proximity to each other. Seriously close.

The next thing is you divvy up running rotations. There are 36 segments, so each runner will ideally run 3 legs. The distance of each leg is determined by the relay event organizers, officially defining a "transfer point", with legs varying between 3 to 9 miles more or less. So, "runner #1" starts the first leg - everybody piles into the van and you drive down to the next transfer point, and he/she passes the baton to "runner #2", and so on. After you cycle through your 12 runners, runner #1 gets another go, and the cycle continues until you "reach the beach" ie the finish line. No hotels, no stopping. You are always hopscotching the current runner. 

Here is the elevation map... wicked for those of us (me) who have spent the last 12 months running on flat terrain:


Each team has to have a name – ours was “Close the Gap”. There is a significance to it, but I don’t remember what it was about... Other teams had crazy names like: “Girls gone Miled”, “Fuster Clucks”, “Beach Balls and Bikinis”, and so on… One of my favorites was “Out of Breathalyzers”.

The teams are divided into 2 vans. Vans 1 and it's 6 runners go through the first 6 segments and then meet up with Van 2, where upon Van 2 takes over for 6 segments and the folks in Van 1 get a little break until they take over at the end of the 12th segment. And then Van 2 gets a little break, and so on.... You sort of getting the drift?

It all sounds very straight forward, and it is, except that we are talking about more than 500 teams, each of which has 12 runners.  Some teams are "elite" teams with only 6 runners, or in our case 11, due to a last minute drop by a team member. Believe it or not, it took us 2 hours to figure out how to fill in the segments that the dropped runner would have run.

The transfer points are chaotic and crazy with vans pulling in and out, runners finishing their segment and handing off their baton (or in some case arriving and not having someone to hand off to because: a) the Van is late b) the van got lost c) the new runner is not ready d) the new runner is in a porta-pot, or maybe e) the runner is so incredibly fast that he/she is beating expected times....). Remember that are over 500 teams and there are two vans per team!  That’s a lot of traffic. This picture is from one of the very "calm" transfer points.


Did I mention that this was a non-stop event? I didn't sleep a wink for 40 hours. It's been a long time since I've done that...

Ok, so let's run through this: I was runner #8 and in Van 2 (the "cool" Van - btw; apparently there is a bit of competition for coolness between the vans...).  At the transfer point runner #7 hands off to me and I take off for a ~6.7 mile jaunt. No biggie; the course goes from the mountains to the beach so it's all an easy downhill, right?  No way dude - we're in New Hampshire - and it is freaking hilly! And the down hills are brutal!  But I gut it out and run hard. But oops, there is going to be a problem...

There are so many vans associated with the event that we have created our own traffic jam in one of the little New Hampshire towns. And I mean serious traffic jam – these are two lane roads and we have overwhelmed the traffic capability. A couple of miles out from the town (and my transfer point) I can see that vans and local cars are all backed up and I start thinking about what do I do if my van didn't make it to the transfer point with the next runner. Do I keep running? Do I just kind of hang around? What is the protocol? So as I'm pondering my options I happen to pass a van that has an arm hanging out the window with a water bottle and I'm think "damn I could use some water", and I realize that it's my van, they see me coming and were thoughtful enough to realize that I might need some water, but even better, had already busted out our next runner who was trekking on foot to the transfer point! Awesome! I happened to catch up with her about a half mile from the transfer point and we jogged in together for the official hand off. Hooraa, one down for me.

But now it's back into the van (after walking back through the traffic to find it), squeeze into the designated "stinky" seat (no time for post run stretching) and we rush to get to the next transfer point before our new runner gets there. Now I can give myself a wet-nap bath, get out of my sweaty running duds (safely locking them into a zip lock bag to reduce some of the stinkiness), and do a little stretching.

My first run had started at about 5PM, and this pic is one of our runners coming in from the dark at around 8PM. My next run, leg #20, isn't until around 3AM. Yeah, you read it correctly. 3AM. But I can't stretch out in the van and take a nap - there just isn't room. It’s just a minivan.. We've got bags, snacks, fluids, clothes, towels, maps, garbage, etc. it's a packed van. Plus there are things to do - like, someone has to drive, someone else needs to navigate, someone needs to keep a eye on a stopwatch so that we can keep track of the runner we just started, the runner that just finished their segment needs to get themselves cleaned up a bit, and so on... Hopefully, we get the to next transfer point in enough time to let the upcoming runner change into new (and dry and better smelling) running duds and ideally warm up for their run. Oh, and we need to keep the other van updated on our progress so that they can be sure to be at the next Van Transfer Point so that they can take over for their 6 rotations. There is a fair amount of necessary coordination and organization. 

We (Van 2) finished our first rotation around 8:30PM, sending Van 1's first runner off with a big cheer. We dive into a restaurant eat and try to relax a bit. Then it's back into the van and we navigate our way to the next Vehicle Transfer Point, roughly an hour away. As soon as we get there (a school parking lot) we try to find a place to park and hopefully catch some zzz's. But this is not a nice quiet school parking lot...  There are at least 200 odd vans pulling in and out, there are people (trying) to sleep on whatever patch of grass they can find - picture cocoon-like blobs (runners rolled up in sleeping bags) scattered helter-skelter everywhere - people (trying) to sleep in their vans - car alarms going off because someone accidentally hit the Panic button, headlights, backup beeps, trucks with flashing/rotating beacons... Are you getting the idea yet that this was not the place for some rest? You got it...

Ok - so it's getting close to my turn to run again... Do you remember that our team was down a runner? So, out of all this we shuffled rotations and distances around and I'm picking up a couple extra miles in order to somewhat relieve the guy running before me (because he’s a stud and he picked up another segment). That means that we are going to pull off to the side of the road at a location determined by us and wait for him to reach us (and find us in the dark) for the baton hand off. It's 3AM. Dark. 40-odd degrees. Country road. Hilly. We had already passed a van that pulled off to the side but missed seeing a deep ditch and fell into it, breaking an axel and who knows what else - bad night for them – hope they bought the extra insurance :-(. 

And so we are waiting. I'm all set. Reflective vest. Headlamp strapped to my forehead (I've never run with one before). Blinky light clipped in front and one in back. I'm ready. And we're waiting.  Did he run by us and we missed him?  There are lots of vans and lots of runners going by... Easy to miss him...

But suddenly we spot him as he is passing us - we did almost miss him! and I'm off. Now I'm off on this surreal run - ok, it's only 5.5 miles, no biggie there, but it was just weird.

I'm expecting a run down a quiet, rolling, dark country road illuminated by what's left of the super-moon and guiding my way with my headlamp. Oh no.. not so much... It was not quiet and it was not dark. The road was a constant parade of vans leapfrogging their runners.  Plus, the pavement was not perfectly smooth - hey, it's a rural road, what did I expect? So I had to concentrate on where I was stepping to avoid potholes or cracks in the road or rocks and so on...  I found it helpful to draft a runner and let her find most of them for me. Yeah, it would have been way more chivalrous of me to let her draft me and let me stumble through the mine fields, but hey, she insisted on passing me and I decided to keep up and follow her. Besides..., well, you know.....  So anyway, I never saw much of the moon. The bright side is that I also never had to over-anticipate an upcoming hill because I could never see it coming - I just knew t was there when I hit it. The downhill ones were the biggest surprise because all of a sudden I'm loading up my quads and wondering just how steep and long the damn thing is going to be.

One of the other elements of the event is the concept of "road kills", i.e. how many people have you passed. I'll tell you right now that I got passed a lot, even though I was running at what I thought was a respectable 8:15-8:30 pace. At one point I get passed by this one bonehead who mutters to me as he passes "road kill!" And I shout up to him "yeah, and I've got 30 years on you - how do you feel now?!" To which he now felt some measure of chagrin and I think said "sorry". Some vans made a big deal of it by decorating their van with tally marks of their "kills". It's all good - I get it ;-).  I just thought it was funny.

The hardest part is the third segment, especially after having no sleep. Three of our guys had to run a total of 4 segments so this last leg would be even tougher for them. I managed to rest a little bit by laying down on some grass at the last vehicle transition point while we waited for Van 1’s last runner. With the help of a little 5HR energy shot I gave my last 6.8 miles all the game I had, still managing to maintain an 8:15-8:30 pace. My quads were getting hammered on the down hills and my calves and hams screamed at me on the up hills. From an endurance perspective I seemed fine, but my legs did not like the terrain. I was sooooo happy to finish.

Once we launched our last runner on the last and final segment of the event, we all cram ourselves back into our van and scoot down to the finish line area. Now we are truly combating with all 1000+ vans, plus local traffic (the town of Hampton must of hated us!). Fortunately we had rented a house within a half mile or so from the finish line and could park our van at the house and walk over. The temptation to jump into a shower before doing so was huge, but if we did we would have missed our finishing runner. The bummer of being the last runner is that he had to run about 3/4 of a mile on the beach to the actual finish line – I’m not sure that I would have had the juice in my legs to do that through the sand! But here he trudged, running in his socks, shoes in hand, gamely claiming a "road kill" at the finish line, and we all joined in with him to cross the finish line together with the announcer calling out the name of our team. It was great to be done. Now, where’s the food and where’s the beer!!

We weren't able to capture a "crossing the finish line" picture, but we did get a group pic at the end. That's the beer and food tent behind us - lets go already!


540 teams signed up to run, 530 started, 522 finished. The fastest team finished in 20hr 24min (an incredible 5:54 pace), the slowest finished in 37hr 30min.  We finished in 28hr 43min (an 8:18 pace), 133rd place overall.

From an event organizational perspective, I was impressed. The race organizers had to coordinate an entire 207 mile route and all that it entailed; through towns and villages, arranging transfer points, traffic and police, signage (i.e. runners: go this way.. Vans: go this other way..), do whatever they can to avoid totally annoying the entire population of  New Hampshire, organizing volunteers (especially tough on those needed to work the midnight hours), and so on. I suspect that it was a tremendous undertaking. I totally appreciate their work and efforts - thank you.

It was truly a different experience for me, so different than running an individual event – fun at so many different levels, hard at others, as well as being challenging. I was running with a team of whom I only knew one person and fortunately we all got along great and helped each other. I’d like to do it again and if I have that opportunity I’ll have a better training routine and a better race-day strategy to manage my legs.  Hooraah

Next up, Honeymoon Island Half Marathon November 8 !


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to the Newtons

This is like one of those "forgive me for I have sinned" moments... Thinking that my old Newton's weren't cutting it I went off the reservation and bought a pair of  Saucony Triumphs. They felt good. They felt different. And I put 150 odd miles on them. But after the first few runs I found that they just were not working for me. My gait was off, my ankles didn't feel right, my achilles got tight... nothing was right...

So I went back to my old Newtons and immediately felt the difference. It was like finding an old friend. They felt great. Well used, but my run felt so much better than my runs with the Saucony's.

But I don't think that this necessarily has anything to do with Saucony shoes from a quality perspective - they are good shoes - they just weren't working for my gait and physical characteristics.

One of the things that I noticed while running with the Saucony's was that my left foot was toe'ing in. A friend suggested that it was because of a weak or tired muscle - but I was somewhat skeptical about that. I did sort of notice was that when I ran in my old Newton's that it did not happen, but that little fact did not totally register with me until later.

Then, on a whim, I went into a local running store to re-visit Newton's and the woman who took care of me suggested that perhaps I needed more of a stability shoe.

I said "nah.... I'm good, I want to try the Gravity's that I've got now"... I did, and as I ran around the store she noted that my right foot was caving in from time to time.  Hmmmm.  I mentioned my issue with my left foot toe'ing in, and she said yeah, that makes sense. That the left foot was basically compensating.  More hmmmmm.  I'm not totally sure about all of it, but ok, I'll take it at face value. Then she had me try the Newton Motion Stability model - and I absolutely noticed that both of my feet were on track, no toe'ing in. They felt great. I want to be back in Newton's!

And I would have pulled the trigger on buying them if they didn't cost $175.  Folks, that's a ton of money for me, and so I didn't buy them, much to that woman's disappointment. I also had a little issue with the woman, but I won't go into that - it was just a little off-putting, and that was another factor in my not being that anxious to give her my money. But still, $175 is a lot of money.

But guess what?  I was able to get a 20% discount directly from Newton. I feel bad for not being able to support my local running store, but 20% turns $175 into $140. And now we're talking.  I'm hoping to get them before I leave for my Reach the Beach relay run in New Hampshire next week. Hopefully, I'll be able to have a great run with them!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Struggling but I'm winning

The summer humidity, the ongoing commitments of day to day life, and some nagging ankle issues are working hard to beat me down. I'm struggling, but I'm winning, and I can't wait to see the view from the top...

I make an effort to be committed to my running goals, but they always get re-prioritized by life's other priorities (family, work, social commitments, etc - you know how it is...). When I have a pressing ongoing project I am tempted to forgo my morning run so that I can get an even earlier start on the project, the rationale being that there are other people that are affected by the status of the project. On the other hand, I'm not being true to myself and my health by dropping my run.

I remember years ago rationalizing that there was no way that I could get to a gym or start a running routine because I had "urgent and pressing" responsibilities that just had to be addressed. Once they were taken care of, then and only then could I think of myself... but of course that never happens.

Of course, I've had people tell me that I needed to literally schedule my workout time as if it were a business meeting, i.e. make it mandatory. And predictably, I never did that. I always felt too committed to my work and family priorities. It was not until I sold my company that I suddenly had the time to run - which is how I started running...

Now I'm facing the same issues again, work projects and family commitments are demanding time and I've been tempted to forgo my runs to take care of those responsibilities. Just a few weeks prior to the Marine Corps Marathon last year I got enveloped in a huge project into which I felt so committed that I scaled back my marathon training - at obviously the wrong time - and I am sure that helped contribute to my tough marathon. It's not an excuse - it was my decision, but in hindsight a bad one.

But I've pushed back.

I am forcing myself to reschedule projects and meetings in order to accommodate my running and training routines so that I can meet my running and training goals.

The current levels of humidity are a different story, and there is not much that I can do about that. It has a way of just sucking the mojo out of me - it is so hard to run when it is so oppressively humid. Ugh.  I've been scheduling my runs early in the AM before the sun breaks the tree line - it's still humid, but at least the solar radiation is not knocking me down. Plus I'm working on the premise that by gutting it out and pushing through my runs that I'm actually getting stronger (yeah, right....).

I'm also fighting an Achilles strain, which requires careful running, resting the ankle, ice, and elevation. I've got a Ragnar Relay coming up in a month, and I'm determined to have a good run!

I'm struggling, but I'm going to win my battles!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's all about the shoes

Newtons, Saucony, and Cloudtec
I have fallen out of love for my Newton running shoes (Gravity)…  After running 560 miles in my first pair and 515 in my second, I just wasn’t feeling the love anymore for the Newton's. Perhaps my gait has changed, but something is different. At 500 miles it is obviously time to consider new running shoes, and as I readied myself to do so, I have to admit that the cost of the Newton’s was also a consideration in my choice of a new pair.

And so, after trying a myriad of different running shoes, I opted for Saucony Triumphs – and so far they feel good. They are a little bit heavier than the Newton Gravity’s (306g vs 252g) with an 8mm heel-toe offset. To be honest, I can’t really feel the difference between the weights of the shoes. The important part, of course, is that they just feel right when running. The odd thing that I've noticed while running with the Saucony's though, is that I’m not as focused as I was with the Newtons with regards to landing on my midfoot/forefoot, although I know that I am still doing it. I do notice that my steps are quieter. For some reason I was unable to land as softly as I would have liked with the Newtons and I tended to hear a “plop” sound with every step. Odd. It may have been my gait.

When I took up running with the Newton Gravity shoes I noticed that I was a tad faster, probably because I became more focused on my form and doing the midfoot/forefoot thing, and so I have been curious what the effect, if any, would be with the new Saucony’s. The answer is still TBD… It has been so hot and humid, that any real evaluation or analysis is going to have to wait until the weather gets a little more cooperative. I’m still running in this humidity, but not with a tremendous amount of gusto. My running mojo is sucking…

But then entered a wild card…  I fell into a pair of CloudTec Cloudracers (230g, 5mm heel/toe offset) (website: www.on-running.com) the night of a 5K. I immediately felt the lightness of these shoes. Wow, so this is what lightweight shoes feel like! But they are a little weird in that the soles of the shoe have these rubber “eyelets”, or bumps (see the picture...) that are kind of little bouncy, spongy things… My initial reaction when I saw the shoe was “yeah, right… forget about it”, but then I tried them on and ran the 5K race with them.  And I PR’ed it… on an incredibly hot and humid night (it was
a midnight 4th of July run…) I ran the fastest 5K I have ever run. It must have been the shoes...! (uh-huh...) But yes, they really, really felt good. I felt a little extra spring that was very dynamic. Maybe that is what those rubber eyelets thingy's do.


I’m a little skeptical with regards to how many miles I can get out of the Cloudtec shoes, because I am sure that the rubber eyelets will either fatigue and collapse, or will rip out. We’ll see. I may just use them for events. But they do feel real good!

Next up: I'm hoping to run in one of the Ragnar series relays, the New Hampshire Reach the Bay (or is it Beach?) in September.  Never done one, hope to see what it's like!

After that its a Half Marathon on Honeymoon Island in November.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Cost of Running $$

I made the mistake the other day to consider how much that particular run was costing me, as in how much per mile (I sometimes like to do math while I’m running… I know, crazy…)

Ok, it’s not a ton of money, but it turns out that it is not insignificant either.   If I include the broad assortment of running related goodies, from shoes to gu, it costs me about $0.80 per mile…  More on how I’ve arrived at that in a sec.  

When I first started to run 5 years ago I literally went out with my day-to-day sneakers, a pair of shorts and a cotton tee shirt.  After all, running is commonly known as the most inexpensive form of exercise – no equipment needed and the roads, sidewalks, and trails are free.  The only thing required is one’s effort.

Well, I’m sure you know the story…   To start with my shoes sucked (they were my non-work shoes that I played with my kids with, mowed the lawn, walked around downtown with, etc..), so I got into more appropriate shoes dedicated to running. That was the first cha-ching.  And course, special socks became the next mandatory item since my cotton/polyester sox didn’t do my feet any favors. Another cha-ching.  And so it goes – you know the drill.

So let’s just start with the shoes and sox…  For example, I recently bought a new pair of Saucony Triumph’s for $140 and some new sox for $10.  I’m hoping to get 400 miles out of the shoes, so that comes to $0.35 per mile.  I’ll get maybe double the miles out of the sox, so let’s say that comes to $0.01 per mile. For my feet alone, every mile that I run every day is costing me $0.36. So for a 30 mile week, that totals out to $10.80 a week.  I’ve spent more for a gym membership that I never went to…. So I'm totally cool with that; a pretty cheap solution to better physical and mental health.

But guess what? It doesn’t end with just the investment in my footwear! Here is a list of the crap that I’ve wound up buying to support my running habit:
  •  More sox
  • Non-cotton t-shirts
  • Running shorts
  •  Winter running pants and shirts
  • A rain shell (for those drizzly or ice-spitting mornings)
  • Headgear, i.e. hats and skullcaps
  • Sunglasses (ok… I might have bought them regardless, but interestingly enough, I only wear them when I’m running…)
  • Nutrition (like gu, shotbocks, Gatorade,  etc.)
  • First-aid junk (band-aids, ace-bandages, wraps, creams, Epson salts, etc)
  • Running app for my phone (vs buying a GPS watch)
  • Ear buds for music (they break, get lost, etc.)
  • A waist-pack to carry all of my crap in
  • Camelback and a water belt

And now I’m pushing $0.80 per mile. This calculation is the result of putting all of the above items into a spreadsheet, establishing a cost and then dividing by how many miles I might get out of them.  And that $0.80 may even be low, but nevertheless it is still way better than paying for a gym membership that I never went to.

But wait ! There’s more !   How about running a race, or four, every year? And here is where the real money comes in. Event costs vary, and I’ve paid anywhere from $25 for a 5K to $140 for a marathon. My annual costs for event entry fee’s is around $300, and this does not take into account any costs associated with me getting to the event or lodging, etc.  I probably dropped between $700 & $1,000 to run the Chicago Marathon in 2011, between lodging, transportation to Chicago, cabs, food, etc.

So the net-net here is that running isn’t free… it has costs and they are not necessarily negligible.  Shoes are expensive. Sweat-wicking shirts and shorts are expensive. Events are expensive. No wonder that running is a multi-billion dollar industry!

But at the end of the day, running is arguably still the cheapest form of cardio-vascular exercise available that has the added value of providing awesome mental refreshment.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hot run

What's better than a mid-day 6 mile run with the temperature at 90 degrees plus, and heavy, heavy humidity? And no wind, by the way.

Everything and anything... But I had that hankering to do a tough run.  It had been a big weekend of drinking and eating and I had a lot of bad ju-ju that I wanted to sweat out. So I had good cause…

I got myself prepped with the necessary goodies for a "you-must-be-crazy-to-run-in-this-heat" kind of a run: Vaseline, sunscreen, a camel-back loaded with ice, a sweat-wicking skull cap, and sunglasses. And off I went – and I had a great, but tough, run.

I kept myself at a very easy pace, 9:50-10:15 min/mile pace and never got to a point where I was predominately breathing through my mouth (For me, that’s a key indicator of my aerobic intensity. If I’m breathing through my mouth 100% of the time, I know that my heart rate is pushing 130bps, and so if I’m breathing mostly through my nose while running I know that my heart rate is likely around 120 or so.

But it was hot, so hot and muggy!  My route had a lot of shade trees, but I had stretches of a half-mile or more that had no shade whatsoever, and those parts were brutal.

I started out sipping water from my camel back every half mile, and then later in the run when I was feeling the most heat (and I was definitely hot from exertion) I started drinking much more often as well as soaking my skull cap with the cold water from my camel back. I got hot enough that I took a walk break in a shady area at mile 5 so that I could cool myself down after a long stretch in the sun.

But overall it was a great, focused, run. I felt that I ran with purpose and determination. It goes without saying that the plunge into the pool afterwards was awesome. And I definitely felt like had relieved myself of most of the bad ju-ju... I know I have a good sweat going when the sweat is flying off my fingers as I run.

I lost 3 pounds during my run, despite constantly taking in fluids.  According to an article that I read, that equates to 3 pints of water loss – which sounds pretty crazy.  A three pound loss also comes out to 1.8% body weight loss for me, which I think is within the safe zone of temporary weight loss due to sweating fluids out. But the 3 pints of water still sounds nuts to me. That would be on top of all the water that I drank while running (which turned out to be ~2 pints). Hmmm


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stages of a Marathon

Believe it or not, there are 10 stages in a marathon... These are the result of a recent conversation with some friends at a local watering hole about what it was like to run a marathon – I summed it up as a series of stages and I thought that I should post them here…  But first, a disclaimer: I’m a mid-pack runner and so everything here pretty much relates to those of us that are trying hard to stay in the game.

Stage 1: Pre-start Anticipation
Standing (or sitting) in the Starting Corral. Sun is just peeking up over the horizon. Anticipation and excitement are high. It’s chilly, you are ready to go, and you are packed in with 1,000’s of fellow runners, all anxious to get this thing going. It’s a little boring. You’ve already been up for 3-4 hours. And you need to pee…

Stage 2: Miles 1-6, finally running
Slowly getting the kinks out, trying to warm up and not hurt anything. Lots of noise and cheering. Trying not to get too hyped up and blow energy. Gotta find a place to pee.

Stage 3: Miles 7-14, in the groove
Ok, this is what you’ve trained for. Cruising along, not too fast, trying to remember when and where to find some fuel or fluids. You are feeling pretty good. Everything is normal. Hey, this isn't so bad!

Stage 4: Miles 15-20, starting to feel kind of like work
More than half way done, less than half way to go. Keep her steady, remember fuel and fluids. You've trained for this. All good. But jeesh, this is beginning to feel like a haul.

Stage 5: Miles 20-24 – crossing the chasm
You are now running in the black hole. You’ve never run this far before (except for maybe your previous marathon…), and there is no telling what is going to happen. Training runs maxed out at 20 miles. Can you even run further than 20? Don’t think about it. Just run. You won’t get to the finish line if you don’t run. Just run. Gotta keep running. Do not stop.

Stage 6: Mile 24 – things hurt
Multiple body parts are complaining. Must keep running. Very tired. Feet say stop. Head says not yet. no way. Spectators yell “you are almost there!”, but you know that already, you just wish that it were true. Digging deep for the will to keep running. There is a vague mirage of a finish line somewhere ahead. Could it be? Gotta keep running.

Stage 7: Mile 25 – 1.2 miles to go
Oh me oh my – yes, there is a finish line up there somewhere, you can smell it, you can hear it. You are struggling, but can’t stop for nothing now. Anyone can run 1.2 miles. Anyone. C’mon baby, c’mon, dig deep.

Stage 8: Mile 26 – New Life
You can see the Finish Line… It is shimmering with all of the wonders of sweet relief and promises of untold wealth and happiness. New found strength floods your legs (where the heck was that back at mile 23?). Praise the gods, you are going to finish the marathon. Nothing short of a bolt of lightning is going to keep you from crossing that finish line. And yet those last 385 yards are like an impossible distance. Why is this not over yet? Why is there a hill here? Are you freaking kidding me? C’mon baby, c’mon!

Stage 9: Finish Line – Euphoria
Relief, disbelief, unbridled satisfaction, euphoria like you have never experienced before in your life, and so much more flood your body. It’s done. You did it. You did something that others won’t or couldn’t. You took yourself out to the edge and you brought yourself home. The feeling is indescribable. You will never be able to explain this feeling to anyone.

Stage 10: Later that day – Now what?
Ok cool – you did it. Your walking is a little stiff, but you feel good. Now what other seemingly insurmountable challenge can you conquer?

In the event of interest, here are links to my two marathons. They were hard, no stellar times, but they were great experiences:
Marine Corps Marathon 2013:  Marine Corps Marathon -2013
Chicago Marathon 2011:  Chicago Marathon - 2011