New Orleans Marathon Recap

икона за подаръкХудожник2012 Rock-n-Roll New Orleans Start

I finished my second full marathon this weekend in New Orleans at the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans. These are just a few highlights from the trip and the race. Thanks to everyone who supported me in training, life and virtually on Facebook and other social networks!

Sleepless Night

After a yummy (and pricey) dinner at Borgne Restaurant, inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, we settled into our room to relax. The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful. We watched some television and remembered how much we do NOT miss the commercials and I got all of my things together for the morning. We had a room with two queen beds and had planned to make a palet on the floor for Gavin and let the girls sleep in the bed. Unfortunately the extra blanket that was in the cabinet of our room turned out to just be an extra pillow. The hotel was extremely busy so a call to housekeeping revealed that we would not be getting extra blankets anytime soon. So, three kids in a bed with Avery in the middle. They complained a bit but fell to sleep pretty fast, considering their discomfort.

Kids On The Bed

Aubrey and I talked for a bit and finished up plans for the morning, but since we were in the same room as the kids who were trying to sleep we decided to retire as well. I can never really sleep that well the night before a race. I usually wake up several times in a panic thinking that I’ve overslept. This night was no exception, plus I had to go to the bathroom several times. Sometime around 1:00 AM in the morning some kid in a room nearby proceeded to scream as if someone was peeling his (or her) toenails off, one at a time. This continued on for what seemed like an hour, but it was probably less. At any rate, sleep was not plentiful or good.

Early Morning

5:15 AM comes way to fast when you wake up multiple times through the night and are restless. I got up and got dressed and then gathered all of my running gear. Of course I should have slept a bit longer because I had way too much time before I needed to leave. So I rolled out my legs with the new Stick that I’d just bought at the expo the day before, took the supplements that I needed before the race and tried to do some light stretching. Aubrey got up and sat with me for a while and then after a potty break I said my goodbyes and headed down to the starting line.

Too Many Corrals

The hotel we stayed at was fairly close to the start of the race, so it was quite easy to just walk down. There was a flood of runners going in the direction of the starting line, so I didn’t even have to figure out where I was going… just follow the crowd. It was fairly chilly that morning, but not freezing. I got to the start and made use of the porta-potties (one more time for good measure), which involved waiting in really long lines. Then I was off to find my starting corral. I was in corral 18 and I saw signs indicating there were about 25 corrals. I walked and walked and turned a corner and walked some more and turned another corner and walked some more… sheesh, I’m going to be walking a 5k before I even begin! I guess that’s one of the costs of a marathon with with over 22,000 runners.

The actual start of the race was at 7:00 AM and then they moved the corrals up closer and closer to the start at one minutes intervals until it was our time to go. For future reference I really need to remember this because later in the race I had to perform calculations in my head to try and figure out from the race clocks what my actual time was (approximately). That was a tad irritating.

The First Half

The first half of the marathon went really well for me. I felt great and fell into a nice pace along with the crowd, which was quite large. This was the largest race I’ve ever participated in and it continually impressed me that the crowd didn’t thin out at all along the first 13.1 miles. The course took us through some really nice neighborhoods with large, elegant houses. The support along the way was tremendous with lots of people cheering us on, plenty of water stations and live bands playing music along the way. Among the runners were quite a few “colorful” characters, some dressed in crazy outfits, some dressed as the opposite gender, many with funny hats or tutus and people of all shapes and sizes. It was enough to keep you distracted from the run and the first half went along pretty fast.

I was expecting to see Aubrey and the kids somewhere aroung the 9 mile mark and the halfway mark, but neither of us had anticipated the staggered starting times so she ended up leaving before I got to her, thinking that I’d already run past. That was a little disappointing, but I could hardly blame her for missing me. I just went along and accepted the fact that I probably wouldn’t see her until the end.

Splitting Up

Approaching the halfway marks there was plenty of excitement as the signs pointed out the fact that we were nearing the end… of the half marathon. I took the merge for the full marathon and found that the crowd went from quite large, to only a few. There were about 10 people that I could count in my vicinity following the path. It was also funny that the sound died down almost instantly, from a lot of runners chattering and people cheering from the sides of the street to… nothing. I could actually hear my breathing.

The path from here was really nice as we ran parallel to the park which was the end of the course. As we wound down further the cheering groups reemerged, though there were definitely less of them.

The Wall

Jonathan at the Wall
Aubrey helping me out as I'm hitting "the wall"

I finally ran into Aubrey and the kids as I hit the portion of the race along Lake Pontchartrain. I took a break as they walked along with me and choked down some Perpetuem and Endurolytes. At this point my legs really started hurting and cramping. I took it easy until we got back to where they parked the van and then I continued on, or at least attempted to do so. My legs were screaming at this point and my hamstrings were cramping. After several yards I had to stop and sit on the side of the road for a bit and I was quite concerned that I would not be able to finish. After a few minutes of stretching and resting I got up and made myself continue. It hurt quite a lot, but after a few minutes the pain became less until finally they stopped cramping. Thank you, God! From this point on there was a lot more prayer and toil involved.

The run along the lake was nice, except for the completely open exposure to the sun and wind, of which there was much.

Crawling to the End

At around 4 miles out from the finish I really struggled to keep going. I felt like I was crawling, walking for a bit and then running a short while. At one point I started feeling dizziness and more cramping, signs that I recognized from my first marathon as dehydration and possible heat stroke. So I took some time to walk and take in a lot more fluids and Endurolytes. That actually helped and got rid of the dizziness. I can’t tell if the cramping went away or not, because at this point my entire body just hurt. My feet were crying for mercy, my legs were screaming to stop, my shoulders were knotted up… I was plain ole tired.

Happy Finish

Smiling Finish

I finally got to the final stretch, which made it’s way up to the front of a museum and then around to the back. As I turned around to the back side of the museum I saw the finish and made the final push to the end. I was hurting bad, but I knew it wasn’t serious so I was quite pleased and had a smile on my face as I made it over the finish line. The cheering was still plentiful, even though I was coming in at the back of the bus, and Aubrey and the kids were screaming and standing out from the crowd. Ah… I can stop running.

Where’s My Towel?

Aubrey and I talked about this afterwards, and I thought it was funny that one of the first things that I say to her after a big race is, “where’s my towel?” In my first marathon this was followed by a collapse, attention from medical personnel, an IV to the arm and a trip to the E.R. This time, however, I just needed to wipe the sweat out of my eyes. My goal for this marathon was to finish and not be incapacitated to the point of needing medical attention. Goal accomplished! My official time turned out to be 5 hours 54 minutes and 59 seconds. That is 4 minutes quicker than my first marathon, so I suppose it’s a new personnel best. I’m still a bit dissappointed and would really like to have a better time, but I’m glad that I did finish. I suppose I’ll just have to keep training. 🙂

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! It is once again that time; time to make resolutions, promises and goals that we’ll never keep. I’m sure all of the health clubs out there love January because of the most likely number one resolution made: lose weight. I considered skipping this year, but I’ve been doing this for several years now and have actually made good progress towards goals that I wanted to keep. So here I am once again, making my list. Without further ado.

1. Die

Yes, you read it right. My number one resolution this year is die, but not in the natural, mortality sense. I hope to work this year on dying to my self (not myself but my “self”).

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Luke 9:23 – 25

That was Jesus speaking… you know God incarnate, the creator of the universe and everything in it. What does that mean, “take up their cross daily”? The cross was the means of carrying out Jesus’ death sentence. So we must kill ourselves every day? In Romans it says:

…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

So what does it mean to “count yourselves dead to sin”? I’m positive that I don’t have the complete picture. I do know that I love God and want to be in His perfect will, so I will be striving to live this out in my life. How? By attempting to put myself aside. By considering others higher than myself. By serving the needs of my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my church. We humans are extremely self-serving creatures. God knows that this is destructive in our lives and He asks us to lay it aside so that He can give us life more abundantly.

2. Practice My Talents

…more specifically, the piano. God has given us all talents and we should be striving for excellence in those talents, whether that means serving people, encouraging people, administering, cleaning or playing the piano. I have realized that I play the piano every Sunday (almost) and have gotten somewhat lax (ok, completely lax) in my practice. I don’t take regular time to fine tune the talent that I use to praise and worship my God and King. I am resolving to fix that this year and make it a regular habit of practicing my instrument.

3. Marathon #2!

Yes, I completed my very first marathon this past year (November 14, 2010). That is the health/fitness goal that I am most proud of. This year I would like to repeat the feat. However, my new goal for this year will be to complete the marathon and NOT collapse at the end resulting in an E.R. visit. Of course that means I need to get back on my feet and start training again, but I’ve had some physical setbacks via my right foot being injured.

4. Get Rid of the Gut

I seriously thought last year that training for and completing a marathon (26.2 miles) would result in this stupid gut or spare tire disappearing from my midsection. Seriously! I was woefully mistaken, however, and the gut remains. So while last year I quietly included this into the “running a marathon” goal, it gets its very own resolution this year. This also means that I will need to specifically target my midsection with exercise that is not just running. Look out six pack abs, here I come!

5. Pay Off Debt

This will continue to be a resolution until it is all gone. I absolutely hate being in debt to other people and count myself as a slave to creditors, without financial freedom, until such time as I pay that last bill and shed the shackles of debt. We have done well this past year, but I plan on attacking debt with a vengeance this year. It needs to get gone!

So there you have it, my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. Do you have any resolutions this year?

2010 Resolutions : Looking Back

It is New Year’s Eve 2010 as I am writing this. I figured I’d take just a moment to look back on the resolutions I made for this year to see how I did.

1. Work on my relationship with God

Check! Though I can’t really take credit. I was discussing this with my wife last night and was having some difficulty as to whether or not I should even have included this item. In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes, “… being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So yes I have grown closer to God, but I don’t think I really had a choice. The scripture makes it clear (at least to me) that He who began the work in me, that is God who called me to be His child (Ephesians 2:8-10), will complete it. I don’t have a choice in the matter. He will complete it. I think it’s just up to me whether it gets completed the easy way or the hard way; I can participate and willingly follow God or I can rebel and choose my own path so that God disciplines me.

2. Work on my relationship with my wife

I believe I did alright on this front. Though I can always stand to do better. I’d like to say that I loved my wife as Christ loves the church, but that is an impossible task for a broken sinner like me. However, I do love my wife, even more now than I ever have in history.

3. Be consistent with my children’s music training

Fail! The intent of this resolution was that I personally be more consistent in teaching my children piano. However, halfway through the year we got the children involved in home school band and they have really done well there. So it’s not a total loss. They are learning music and having fun, which is the important thing.

4. Run a marathon

Check! Yes, I did! I am actually quite proud of this one. You can read more about it in this article.

5. Pay off debts

Check! We actually paid off two of our outstanding debts this year and have continued to try to stay afloat.

So that’s it. So long and farewell, 2010. We are looking forward to a great coming year in 2011.

First Marathon : Done

I’ve never ridden in an ambulance before. More on that later…

Race Day!

The kids stayed the night at the grandparent’s house the night before. That would allow Aubrey (my wife) and I to get up early and be focused on getting everything I needed in the car and to the race on time. We woke up at 4:30 AM and got some breakfast (eggs and toast) and had a cup of coffee. Everything was basically ready from the previous night so we got everything into the van and headed out around 5:30 AM and were parking about 6:00 AM. I was able get one last potty break in and loosen the legs up a bit and it was time to lineup. Aubrey took some pictures and loaded heaps of encouragement onto me. I was ready.

The First Half

After some young person (with a heavy southern accent) sang the national anthem the gun fired (actually I don’t think there was a gun) and we were off. I knew I’d be rolling out slowly so I lined up near the back and just eased out. It was more of a walk at first and then I settled into a nice slow jog. There were loads of people along the way cheering us on and it was such a joy. After around 4 miles of a slow pace I kicked it up a bit into a nice pace. Aubrey met me around mile 6 with cheers and even more encouragement. Just after mile 11 a friend, Jeff, met up with me. He wasn’t in the race, but he needed to get a good long run in and so he joined me for the last half. We coasted through the halfway mark and said hi to Aubrey once again. I felt great; on top of the world! I freely conversed with Jeff; I was smiling and breathing easily; life was good.

Starting to Work

Right after the halfway point though, I had to go up a pretty steep incline and realized something. My legs were getting a bit tired. That didn’t feel to good. I was still OK, though, and we pressed on. There were a lot less people on the track now as all of the half-marathoners had already jumped ship. I was making good progress and even passing a few people along the way. I was definitely starting to feel the work of it all.

The Beginning of the End

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it happened really fast. At some point between mile 17 and mile 19 I went from feeling great to, “crap, this hurts.” For one thing I realized that I was painfully under-prepared as far as equipment, nourishment and hydration. This is when I really became thankful that Jeff was running with me. He’s been running for quite a bit longer than me, and he had a pack with running gels and was carrying water with him. He was generous enough to share these with me. He also helped me pace myself, never pushing me beyond what I could do, but always encouraging. I saw Aubrey for the last time before the finish line right after mile 20. My conversation was done by then, all energy being saved for the task of putting one foot in front of the other.

The Bitter End

I ran the first 20 miles in about 4 hours. That’s a little better than the pace I had hoped for, but generally right on target. From that point on though, my body crashed and it was a battle of will vs. pain. We took it in spurts of running and walking, trying to drink as much PowerAide as I could through the aid stations and fueling up when I could. I think around mile 23 though I starting becoming nauseous because I didn’t think I could stomach much of anything. I tried to drink as often as I could. I had some pretty major leg cramps along the way that halted me completely and I had to stop and stretch a bit. I got dizzy a few times whenever we stopped at aid stations. I had a pretty bad stitch under my left rib. Ah… this is the life!

I’m pretty sure I walked most of the way to the finish line from that point on. I had a few jogs in there, but couldn’t actually go very far before I had to walk again. My vision was getting a bit blurry by this point and I couldn’t focus on much. I wear glasses, so I’m used to the “not exactly clear” vision while I’m running but this was a bit more than that. The finish line came into view and there was hope… hope that I could finally stop this madness and rest. Jeff peeled off to the side as I entered the last few yards of the track. I somehow managed a jog that was just over a walk through the finish line.

The Crash

From this point on, there isn’t much that is crystal clear to me. I remember some lady handing me a metal and some other stuff and trying to take my picture. I think shortly after that I collapsed for a bit, but was able to stand back up and make my way off the track into the shade. Aubrey came running up to me and I asked her to get my towel. I sat down on the sidewalk under the shade of some small trees. After that I vaguely remember some big burly guy (who it turns out was a medic) asking me a bunch of questions and shoving some orange slices into my hands. I remember trying to get some of them down. I remember my vision became so unclear, almost like a negative photograph, that I couldn’t see anything. Then it was like someone had shoved cotton in my ears and really loud ringing. I sort of remember them putting an IV into my arm and then after a while I started coming back to reality. I remember them talking about an ambulance and how they’d gone down the wrong road and then they were helping me onto a stretcher.

A Ride and Some Recovery

I was absolutely freezing on the ride to the hospital; constantly shivering. They plugged all sorts of things onto my chest, said a lot of medical sounding jargon and asked me a ton of questions. I was fully awake then and knew what was going on, but I was in pain. My head hurt, my shoulders and neck hurt, my legs were in agony. I think that’s just one of the rewards for running 26.2 miles though (well, running and walking). They got me into a room in the E.R. and kept pumping oxygen and fluids into me. There is a lot I could expound on from this point on, because we didn’t leave the hospital until 5:30 PM. Instead, I’ll just say that I was extremely dehydrated and my eloctrolytes were depleted. They fixed those two problems and discharged me and I was off home for some much needed rest and eating.

In Retrospect

I’ve been trying not to beat myself up about this too bad, but my finish time was 5 hours 52 minutes. You can see all of the results here. I am thankful that I at least came in under the 6 hour mark. So am I finished with all of this madness? Absolutely not! Even though my mother would love for me to say I’ll never do it again, I don’t think I’m finished with all of this marathon business. I’ve already thought about things I could have done differently to perform better, things I could have prepared a bit more. I definitely don’t want to take any more rides to the hospital though. I think next time I’ll be able to remember what I felt like this time and stop before my body shuts down.

I would like to extend a HUGE thanks to Jeff for being my running partner, encouragement and helper. I seriously would not have completed the race without you there. Thanks for my wife, Aubrey, who is always a constant encouragement to me and is the love of my life. Thanks to all of my family who came out to support me in one way or another and to the friends and family who’s prayers I felt with me. I am one seriously blessed man, to have such a large number of people that genuinely care about me. Praise be to God!

First Marathon : No Turning Back

One of my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions was to run in my first marathon. I posted that on this blog and I also told everyone in my life who would listen because I wanted to build in a sense of accountability for keeping to that goal. I must report that my friends and family have been a huge support for me while training. I receive plenty of feedback inquiring as to how it is going and also positive encouragement. I also get the occasional, “you must be crazy!” but let’s be honest… that’s a bit true.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Earlier this year, sometime in the Spring I think, I settled on the Pensacola Marathon to be the fulfillment of this goal. The race is late in the year so I had plenty of time to prepare. Of course up till now I suppose I could have backed out at any time and decided to wait until 2011. Not anymore! This weekend I finally registered for the event. At $55 I’m not likely to back out of it unless I’m injured. Not only that, but at this stage in my training I’m not willing to back down regardless… I’ve come way too far for that.

Ups And Downs

Speaking of training, how is that coming? I believe it is going well. This past Saturday I ran the farthest that I’ve ever run, 16 miles. It took quite a toll on me, but I’m seeing improvements in my long runs every time I get out there. I go a little farther, I feel a little better and I recover quicker. I’ve had a few weeks where the training seemed to be terrible; like I was taking 2 or 3 steps backwards. That was frustrating, but once I let it go and just did what I could I realized that it’s all part of it.

Eyes Fixed On The Goal

So, the date of the marathon is November 14, 2010. That means I have just under 8 weeks before the event. I’m using a marathon training guide for beginners from Hal Hidgon. The longest distance I’ll run before the marathon is 20 miles (looking forward to that) and then I’ll taper down until the big day. I want to say thanks to all of you who have encouraged me and spurred me on to achieving my goal. I’ll leave you with one last thing:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3