Dec 22, 2007

18+ Miles

3-weeks out from P.F. Chang's Rock'n'Roll Marathon in Arizona and we had desert-like weather in Ohio. Well, not quite, but not too far off given temperatures in the high 30's prior to last years start. It was in the low-40's this morning, which was great weather for my Team in Training group's final long run. The towpath was a mess and was a little difficult to negotiate at times. In the end we probably covered just over 18 miles but it sure felt like more. Maybe that's because I haven't been putting in consistent mileage of late. Or it could be that I only took one gel at mile 5-1/2 (I was saving the others for my runners). Hmmm, guess I should be thankful my little legs haven't completely lost it in the last 2-3 months.

Dec 21, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation

Nevermind six degrees of separation, I now have a direct link to Hulk Hogan. One of my friends from OU has landed a spot on the upcoming American Gladiator series, which will be hosted by Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali. I'm impressed! She was real close with one of my roommates, hence my getting to know her. He's kept us up to speed on her career, which of late has included running a health cafe and competing in bodybuilding at the world level. Kudos to this OU alum! Matt Lauer and Al Bundy have nothing on her!

Dec 10, 2007

'Speaking' of Running

Our good friend Frank was in town this past weekend following a speaking engagement at Ohio University. He and his partner Roger make up Bad Bad Apples and have made stops all over the country in the last year, including a stop at the University of Miami where they fell just short of setting a world record for the largest game of 'Simon Says'. Needless to say, Frank is a very driven individual so it should come to no surprise that he and his girlfriend are working towards the goal of running a half-marathon this Janaury. Traveling makes it difficult but he always finds time, which is exactly what we did on Saturday morning. His schedule while in town was tight so we arrived at the gym as the doors opened and were on the track a few minutes later for a solid 4-miler followed by some strength training. I normally bail about 10-15 minutes after my run so it was nice to have someone motivating me to stay a little longer.

Yesterday I was able to sneak out with my normal Sunday running group for 12-miles. It was the first time I was able to speak to Dan and Cathy (both parents) as a parent, which made for some real good conversation.

Dec 7, 2007

Crepe Craving

I had an extreme craving the other night for banana crepes so I did a quick internet search and found what looked to be a good recipe. By good, I mean easy. I've found that the hardest part of any recipe is getting the ingredients together and measured out (these cooking shows never show you what a pain in the butt that is!). About 20 minutes after pulling the ingredients, I handed 3 freshly made banana crepes over to Teresa for the taste test. I'd have done it myself but I could tell they were going to be delicious. It's fun indulging in these simple pleasures and I rarely feel guilty knowing I'll eventually end up running it off!

Nov 29, 2007

1AM Push-Ups

Day 9 with the boys home and the middle-of-the-night feedings are getting easier. For the two of them it takes about 30 minutes. 10 minutes to prep/warm bottles and get diapers changed, 5 minutes to eat, 5 minutes to burp and 10 minutes of sitting in bouncers to settle their stomachs before being tossed back in the pack'n'play. I've been taking advantage of the 10 minute bouncer time by doing reps of push-ups and crunches. I've been keeping with 3x30 push-ups and 3x20 crunches although I'm leaning towards getting back to my old push-up routine of 50-40-30-20, which takes a little longer but yields 140 push-ups vs 90. Leave it to me to squeeze in some strength training during such a time : )

After our 4AM feed this morning (which ended at 4:30), I headed to the gym for a 5AM 5-miler and some light weights (the only type of weights I lift). Total run time 33:36. I'm looking forward to going 18-miles on Saturday morning with my Team in Training group. I need to get reacquainted with my slow-twitch muscles.

Nov 26, 2007

Home Sweet Home

On Tuesday November 20th, 2007 we brought Caden and Cole home from the hospital! I was able to capture on video our final moments in the hospital and their first time in their new home. We're still working out the bugs on how to best care for them as it's all so new and somewhat different than caring for a full-term baby. 'Constant vigilence' is the inside joke Teresa and I are using at this point (fans of The Office will understand). I may just Google "how to maintain a food processor" because that's pretty much all they are. Damn cute food processors!!

What I've learned so far?:

1. Make the most of every second of free time in your day
2. Newborns will eat your hand if you let them
3. They will also eat their own shirt
4. Diaper changes can be made into a game
5. Newborn cloths do not necessarily fit newborns

Nov 14, 2007

Jogging Stroller

Seven miles at 5AM on Wednesday morning worked wonders to clear my head of all that's been clogging it up of late. I must've knocked out 2-3 of those miles at near 6-minute pace despite not having tempo or speed trained in 5-6 weeks. I'll take that as a good thing. If I can maintain 3-4 days of solid running per week, I may shoot for another sub-3 at Cleveland in the spring (wish me luck : )

Speaking of spring, my Team in Training friends hooked me up with an amazing jogging stroller to use next year. It recommends the babies be 6 months before jogging with them in it so the May/June timeframe will work out perfect. My goal is to wear out the tires in one season! Don't know if that's possible, but I'll try! My friend who owns Fleet Feet Northfield picked out the stroller and all I can say is that I owe him and everyone who chipped in on it a world of thanks. It will without question go a long way in enriching the lifes of Caden, Cole, Teresa and myself.

Nov 13, 2007

In It Together

Caden will remain in the hospital for another few days. I guess he just didn't want to make Cole feel left behind. I know there's a good reason for them being in the hospital but it's that fact in itself that is of great concern to Teresa and I. Today is day 27 after all and it's hard to look past the next day or two as to when they will both be discharged. Our patience is being tested as is our ability to stay upbeat and optomistic. Who knows, in another hour or two (or after a good long run) I may be completely recharged and feeling better about all of this.

One to show them when they're older

One of my favorites of Cole

Nov 12, 2007

The Little Guy

As of a half-hour ago, Caden will be discharged sometime this afternoon! Cole is still having some issues that will keep him in the hospital for another week or two. Again, nothing too serious, just a couple of things the doctors need to see resolved before he too gets the boot!

Caden has been the stronger of the two since day 1 (nearly 4 weeks ago) so it's not surprising to Mom and I that he's ready to go home first. It sounds silly to say this so early on in his life, but I'm so proud of him for how amazing a brother he's been of late with Cole not feeling good and being very dependent on Teresa and I. It's almost as if Caden senses the need for Cole to have most of our attention. I've seen this type of behavior in our dogs and am amazed that one can sense when the other is down.

This past month has been an incredible look into what lies in store for us as parents of twins.

Caden - Ready to go home!

Nov 5, 2007

Ryan Shay - Mile 26.3

Tight marathon community touched by competitor's death

"Shay died trying to do his best, and there's little question that he will be the fourth member of the U.S. men's marathon team in Beijing -- absent but present in every stride his friends and former rivals take."

Oct 24, 2007

Day 7 - Rainbow 4

The boys have moved to a stepdown area of the hospital, which is a big step for them and for Teresa and I. For them it means no more CPAPs, intubators, bright lights, etc. For us, it means peace of mind knowing they're one step closer to coming home. It may be another week or two but we now have the freedom to stay in the room with them overnight. I'll take my turn with them this weekend while Teresa gets some much needed rest in the comfort of her own bed.

Oct 23, 2007

Day 6 - Breathing Easy

Caden and Cole are breathing easy as are Mom and Dad knowing that the boys CPAPs have been removed! This a result of good blood gas levels, normal respirations, etc. Teresa was at the hospital all afternoon and was able to hold each baby for an hour. By the time I arrived at 5:00 it was nearly feeding time and for the first time, they each received about 2 ml of Mom's milk. I was holding Cole as the milk went from a syringe through his feeding tube and into his belly and noticed the soothing effect it had on him as he was fast asleep within minutes. Cole has lost 300 g (0.66 lbs) since birth and will be put in an isolette to better regulate his temperature. This is so he doesn't have to expend the energy (i.e. calories) to regulate his own body temperature. Weight loss should not be an issue going forward as they're beginning to eat and are not having to work as hard to breathe.

Oct 22, 2007

Day 5 - Blue Lights

We were told yesterday that the boys bilirubin levels were getting a little high and that they may require some phototherapy treatment for mild jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Sure enough, we walked in to the NICU and there they were, bathed in blue lights. We joked that they were tanning because they had little masks to cover their eyes. We were free to touch them but were unable to hold them again. The nurses had built Cole a little nest of blankets, in which he was perfectly cozy. Every now and then he would stretch both of his legs straight out and up in the air, which looked really funny from the side as all you could see was his legs. Caden always has to have one hand up at his face or above his face. Even yesterday when Teresa was holding him, he worked his hand out from under the tightly wrapped blankets and put it next to his mouth. Both boys are on minimal settings on their CPAP and will probably have their central lines pulled soon.

Cole - Stretching


Day 4 - Mother's Touch

We finally got to hold the boys today! Teresa was discharged around 3PM and after loading up the car with her stuff, we made one last trip to the NICU to see the boys and say goodbye for the day. It was going to be an emotional visit knowing that we'd have to leave the hospital without them. One of the nurses must've sensed what we were feeling and asked if we had held them yet and would like to before we left. For 30+ minutes, Teresa held Caden and I held Cole. We just kep looking at each other so relieved to finally be holding the little guys. Cole was extubated in the morning and is doing great on the CPAP.

Cole hanging loose in his incubator

Day 3 - Extubation

Caden was extubated today while Cole continues to need a little more help. The doctors/nurses keep telling us how similar they're conditions are, except that Caden is about a day or so ahead of Cole. This is encouraging and gives us hope that with each step Caden takes, Cole isn't too far behind. The one thing that brings comfort to both Teresa and I is how comfortable they appear given all the wires and tubes leading to and from their little bodies. Cole was wide awake and looking around the room. Caden opens his eyes from time to time and makes us laugh as he ultimately ends up cross-eyes from not being able to focus. Each had a central line put in today for blood draws.


Cade - Central Line

Day 2 - Intubation

By the end of day 2, both boys had been intubated to further assist with their breathing. This is more of a "severe" measure but was necessary to assist them with their breathing. Caden, a tad bit smaller than Cole, is doing a little better than Cole and is on minimal settings (pressure and O2). Cole wasn't too far behind. It's possible that Caden will be extubated tomorrow given his progress. They are pulling blood samples from their feet, which is causing them to become bruised. They will continue pulling samples to check bilirubin levels (an indicator of jaundice in newborns) and blood gas levels (O2 and CO2) and may end up putting a central line through their belly buttons to obtain these samples easier and without continuing to irritate they're little feet.

Day 1 - Birthday

Our twin baby boys were born on Wednesday October 17 at 10:40 and 10:41 AM. Cole was first into this world weighing in at 5 lbs on the nose. Caden was out shortly thereafter tipping the scales at 4 lbs 8 ozs. About 5-6 weeks premature, they were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to be cared for, focusing primarily on helping them breathe since they're lungs had yet to fully develop. They were never in what you would think of as critical condition, but they got off to a rough start. Day 1 consisted of being put on a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) unit, which is essentially a respirator that supplies oxygen rich compressed air via a hose connected to a nose piece (a very tiny nose piece) so that unobstructed breathing is possible. It was an incredible day to say the least. Teresa is doing good considering everything that she has been through in the last couple of days, not to mention the previous 8 months!


Cole Grady Whittaker


Caden Noah Whittaker

Oct 10, 2007

Finish Line Photos

Teresa and I had the funniest conversation last week. As I complained to her about how awful my finish line photo from Akron was going to be, she bounced me right back into reality by saying,

"Don't feel too bad. Imagine what my finish line photo is going to look like after having these babies!"

She always knows what to say to make me feel better. She even went as far as saying that if I held one of the babies she would signal "#1" with her free arm. So if you visit after the babies are born and see a picture of me finishing the Akron Marathon next to her post-delivery, you'll be "in" on the joke.

Turns out my finish line photo wasn't all that bad (sans elbow would have been better).

Move your elbow please!

I am a real American

The ultimate deception!

Oct 1, 2007

3:01:19 official finish time for the Akron Marathon this past Saturday. I ran amazingly for 22 miles but really struggled during the final 4, which is, of course, when it counts the most. To be honest, I'm surprised to have come so close to another sub-3. To think that I ran a 2:57 in May and a 3:01 in September, all the while planning for the arrival of twins.

- The weather was PERFECT! Low 50's at the start with not a cloud in the sky. 60's and sunny by 10AM. Sitting, sundrenched, in Canal Park watching for my friends was a highlight.
- Convenient, FREE parking. I drove up the morning of the race and had no problem with traffic or finding a parking space central to both the start and the finish.
- Final 16 miles were breathtaking (UofA campus, Ohio-Erie Canal Towpath, Sand Run, Stan Hywett Hall & Gardens)! The miles flew by (for the most part)!
- Six GU stations and plenty of water/aid stops. No need to carry anything with me at the start. Good, one less thing!
- Medal is hardcore!

- The finish inside of Canal Stadium was cool, but too much of a novelty in my opinion. I'd rather the finish be on the road where there's plenty of space and no stadium stairs to climb afterwards.
- Only one finish chute! I finished on the heels of two half marathoners and was forced to share the same finish chute with them, and therefore, the same finish line photo. How 'bout one chute for marathoners and one for half marathoners?
- Only two GU flavors (chocolate and vanilla). Vanilla worked fine once I knew Tri-Berry was not an option (should list flavor choices on the web page).

Throughout the course, I saw the name we will be giving to one of our sons multiple times. It showed up on two street signs and on a campaign sign placed in the yards of many houses along the course. I was inspired to say the least. Congratulations to Cathy, Dan, Athena, Elizabeth, Janet, Darryl, Matt, Sara, Debbie, Heather and Jody. Also, congrats and thank you to Nick for pacing with me for 12+ miles.

Sep 21, 2007

Seeing Pink

I was happy I was able to make it to this years Race for the Cure held in downtown Cleveland. When it comes to running, I have found motivation pretty easy to come by over the years, but there's nothing like being a part of such a massive event that means so much to hundreds, even thousands!

Props to race organizers for making the event a successful one despite the need to make a last-minute course change due to ODOT restricting the use of one of the bridges on the planned course. Turns out the alternate course was a little short of 3.1 miles as everyone who crossed the finish line marveled at their record time (including me). Even so, I felt good about my race given the absence of mile markers and a water stop. Since adding regular tempo runs to my marathon training regime, blasting through a 5K has become a lot more enjoyable and seemingly less gruelling. Perhaps I'm realizing the benefits of getting older and becoming more of a seasoned runner ; )

Sep 11, 2007

800's in my sleep!

When 8x800 is on the menu for a Tuesday morning at 5AM, it practically feels like I'm doing them in my sleep. Truthfully, it's a rough wake up call to say the least. I had a great workout though and am feeling confident about my ability to go out and run the Akron Marathon hard. My final Yasso 800 workout is always a good gauge as to where I'm at relative to where I've been in the past. Surprisingly, I knocked off these 800's faster than I did prior to Cleveland.

Total Time: 1:00:33
Total Distance: 9.1 miles
Average Pace: 6:39
2-Mile Warm Up: 7:10, 6:42
8x800 (3-minute send-offs): 2:48:35, 2:44:40, 2:48:87, 2:49:64, 2:48:20, 2:46:84, 2:44:85, 2:43:56

I wore my new shoes again (with band-aids and longer socks for protection). The wounds are almost completely heeled.

Nursery Mural - In process

Sep 4, 2007

3-Day Weekends Rule

There's nothing like a 3-day weekend and Labor Day weekend is perhaps the best of them all. The weather is great, there's always a picnic or two to attend, etc. With four weeks to go before Akron, I ran 10-miles at planned marathon pace on Saturday morning followed by a 20-miler on Sunday. After my run on Saturday I drove down to Fleet Feet for a shoe clinic, at which time I picked up some New Balance 902's. I was eager to wear them because I've been running in shoes that I bought last November (or older). Instead of waiting for my shorter weekday runs, I decided to wear them for my long run. This isn't the first time I've broken in a pair of shoes on a long run but I've had better luck in the past. About 5 miles in, I felt some discomfort on the front of my ankle and realized it was due to the tongues of my shoes rubbing against my skin. There wasn't much I could do at this point so I pressed on, feeling the pain only when I stopped for water. In the end, I had dime-sized "sores" on each ankle and was dreading getting home and into the shower (this is always when it hurts most). In hindsight, I probably could have adjusted my laces to position the tongue differently. Aside from this, I love the shoes. First and foremost, they're orange (enough said). Secondly, they have a snug heel, a nicely wrapped arch area and plenty of room in the forefoot.

The balance of my weekend was great. I did some work in the yard and around the house, including installation of chair rail in the babies room. Teresa and I went to two Labor Day picnics and watched two good movies (The Shooter and Wild Hogs). Wild Hogs had Teresa rolling and nearly made me spit up my drink.

Aug 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse of the Heart

I thought for sure I'd miss the lunar eclipse last night only because I assumed it would take place between midnight and 4AM. But to my surprise, it was just starting at about 4:30 when I woke up to head out for my morning run. I took notice of it as we started our 2-mile warmup to North Olmsted's track. The top of the moon looked partially covered (almost like cloud cover at this point). We launched into our track workout by 5:15 and near the end of the first 400, the top of the moon was "disappearing". Three 600's and two 800's later, only a tiny sliver at the bottom was white. The rest of the moon was now a shade of red. Really, what a cool way to watch an eclipse. I ran the final 400 in 70 seconds, which I thought was good considering the time of day and having no one to pace with. Cooled down with the short run back to my car.

Aug 13, 2007

An Update, Finally!

I've got a handful of things to report on since my last post 2+ weeks ago.

1. On August 8th at 6:46AM, my brother and his wife became the proud parents of a baby girl (Hannah Grace). She was 7 lbs, 14 oz and 20" long.
2. Painting commences in the twins room on August 8th (before and after pictures to come).
3. Officially registered for the Akron Marathon on September 29th.
4. Fairport Lighthouse Triathlon was a blast! Slow swim, decent bike, smokin' run.
5. FCK safe and sound in Arizona. His going away party was great!
6. First Team In Training group run this past Saturday followed by a pancake breakfast.

Jul 27, 2007

Delivering Bad News

I had the bismal task of delivering bad news to someone while at work today. No fun. Especially when it weighs solely on your shoulder. Uugh! That silence... those awkward moments of bitter disappointment eminating from across the table... my futile attempt to say a few words to bring a ray of sunlight upon the situation. I feel I handled it very well and having done so, I should be more at ease the next time around.

I'm really excited about the sprint triathlon in my hometown this weekend. I know Fairport Harbor like the back of my hand and it will be so much fun to experience it in a slightly different light. This race is the 15th annual, which means that it started while I was still in high school. I can't begin to imagine what I was busy doing on those Sunday mornings back in '93, '94 and '95 while a gathering of triathletes were racing around in my "backyard". Sleeping is my best guess. Kinda makes me appreciate how far I've come since being a punky littly high schooler.

Jul 23, 2007

Back on Track

I had the most consistent week of training since before the Cleveland Marathon way back in May. Started with a 17 mile trail run last Sunday. Hit the track for some speed work on Tuesday. An easy 4 on Wednesday. 40 minutes of tempo running on Thursday. 8 miles at marathon pace on Saturday and 20 miles yesterday.

I haven't lost any speed on the track and was happy with the final 3 miles of my 20-miler, of which I finished in 20:44 (6:55 pace). In preparation for Akron, I'm going to strength train my quads and hams more than usual and place an emphasis on long runs of at least 22 miles. I normally do not run 20 this far out from the race but I'm making a conscious effort to bump up my weekly mileage, which will probably also mean warming up and cooling down longer during speed work and tempo runs.

I'm registered for a sprint distance triathlon this weekend in my hometown of Fairport Harbor. I'm really excited because the swim is only 1/4-mile! I may have a chance of exiting the water with other triathletes and not all by my lonesome! Should be a blast!

Jul 18, 2007

It's About Time

So my local blog friends are already in "the know" but for the rest of ya's, I'm happy to report that my wife and I are expecting twin baby boys later this year. My thoughts are quickly becoming consumed with the "boys" and they will no doubt begin to pour over into my blog entries between now and the time they are born. An attempt to put into words how I'm feeling would be futile (although I bought a real nice leather-bound journal to try). Let's just say that I'm super friggin' pumped. I keep picturing myself playing baseball with them or teaching them the run-n-shoot offense. I mean, just think of how much practice they can get running the option together (I once spent 2 straight hours with a teammate doing aforementioned exercise)! Of course there's more to life than sports and I'm equally excited to help mold the little fellas into proper men. Teresa shares in my excitement and is holding up considerably well. A few rough days here and there (not to mention a lot of indigestion/heartburn) is all that she's encountered so far. Although the most high risk part of the pregnancy is behind us, the most difficult part is still to come. Teresa's belly is seemingly growing by the minute and she looks so cute in her maternity clothes. I've already got my eye on a twin jogging stroller and should be able to get them out and running next summer when they're old enough to hold their heads up.

We're still struggling with name ideas so feel free to share your thoughts. Naming twins is always a fun thing to do, but I should warn you that we've already been through the whole array of comical names... Abbot and Castello, Brooks and Dunn, Turner and Hooch, Cagney and Lacey, etc.

Jul 6, 2007

Da' Weekend

Despite the fact that Teresa works all weekend (boo!), I'm hoping to enjoy what is going to be another hot couple of days! Tonight I'm going to see one of my good high school buddies who is in town from North Carolina and am hoping for an early night given that I'm planning to head into my hometown of Fairport Harbor tomorrow morning for a swim/bike brick workout. I'll run on Sunday morning and am thinking of going long (18+ miles). I've been in somewhat of a running funk of late and need a jump start to kick off my fall marathon training.

Speaking of fall marathons, I'm deciding between the Erie Marathon (at Presque Isle) or the Akron Marathon. Both are in September and both have good reputations. Akron is much larger and the course is more difficult. It's also more expensive. Hmmm, something small might be nice. But then again, a free pair of Brooks running shoes would be waiting for me at the finish line of the Akron Marathon. Decisions, decisions!

Jun 28, 2007

Alaska Pics

Standing by Visitors Center

A Major Award

I received in the mail yesterday an award for placing third in my age division at this years Cleveland Marathon. I think I'll go to a trophy place and have it engraved with the date, my finish time, etc.

I'm searching for a shelf/hanger for my running medals and various awards I've received over the past 5 years. Anyone have some thoughts.

Jun 27, 2007

2007 Mayor's Marathon

I'm just now getting back into the swing of things after returning home from Alaska on Monday morning. In short, everyone from the Northern Ohio Team In Training chapter finished their event on what was an ideal day for running/walking. I spent the day on the marathon course assisting my peeps and anyone else in need. In all, I covered about 36 miles in 8-1/2 hours (some walking, most running). Needless to say, I slept good that night (despite the "midnight sun). I've got a ton of pics to get into my computer and a few that actually require developing. I'll try and get a few posted in the next day or two.

I ran this morning for the first time since Saturday and felt good... 3-miles at about 6:30 pace.

Jun 18, 2007

Bachelor Party Cont...

What are the three ideal components of a perfect bachelor party? Swim, bike and run of course! Or, in Bryce's case... run, bike and run some more (i.e. duathlon). The triathlon/duathlon at Maumee Bay made for a perfect getaway for Bryce as he prepares for his departure from bachelordom. After a low key evening of cooking out and sitting by the campfire enjoying some amazing chocolate cake from Boston Market (thanks Albert), we woke up early on Sunday morning for the days events. Bryce was registered for the international distance duathlon, while Tim, Kurt and I had signed up for the international distance triathlon. The duathlon started first and we were able to watch Bryce take off. I was well into my swim by the time he entered T1 and just starting my run when he finished but came to find out that he rocked the course in 2:08:03. Good enough for 1st in his age group and 3rd overall! Congratulations Bryce!

Jun 15, 2007

Bachelor Party

The morning of my wedding, nearly 2 years ago, Bryce and I ran 20 miles together. I remember the final 3 miles being at sub-7-minute pace. I mean we were really rockin'. Bryce has often joked about how high I set the bar for him when it came his time to be married. Well, his time is here and he's got a plan that rivals my 20-miler... and then some.

To be continued...

May 31, 2007

2007 Cleveland Marathon Recap

Race morning came early for me as the dogs began their routine prance around the foyer at 3:45 (I knew I should have let them out one last time before I went to bed). Oh well, I was planning to get up at 4:20 anyway. Showered, ate a couple mini-whole wheat bagels with jelly, drank a glass of milk and sipped on a VitaminWater before leaving the house at 5:45. I followed the crowd off the E. 9th Street exit and made my way as close to St. Clair as possible. Somehow I found a spot on the street right next to a huge row of port-o-potty's and approximately 50 feet from St. Clair (race start and finish). It was much warmer than I had expected although a light rain was masking the true conditions about 30 minutes prior to the start. I entered into the street and weaved my way to the front of the pack. Still had about 10 minutes left at this point so I continued to sip on my VitaminWater and did a few strides down the street and back. It wasn't long before the race directors were yelling for everyone to take their places. During the National Anthem, a commuter plane from Hopkins flew overhead and several of us joked about that being our flyover! Hey, we're from Cleveland and are used to getting boned! We'll take what we can get! A few nervous moments later and we were off.

I hit the start mat in only 2 seconds and was pacing with a guy who I know is a consisent 2:54 marathoner. I made certain to stay behind him because I went out ahead of him 2 years ago in Columbus and paid the price later. The first 1/2 mile was exciting with the crowd on St. Clair and the large pack of runners at the front (mile 1 - 6:16). Unlike Boston, the crowd thinned out after the first mile but that was OK since we were heading east on the shoreway by mile 2 (6:37). There's a nice little bump during mile 2 that we would encounter again at mile 24. Miles 3-6 were relatively uneventful as we headed over the hills (i.e. bridges), out of the downtown section of the course and into the quiet of Edgewater St. in Lakewood. Gorgeous homes line the street and some faithful occupants were out at this early hour to take in the spectacle. I always try my best to acknowledge their presence but I'm afraid my facial expression, no matter how hard I try, remains solemn and focused. Oh well. I was looking forward to getting to W. 117th St. as I knew my family and friends would be waiting patiently for me. Also, the first Team in Training Scream Team is stationed there. Mile 3 - 6:37, Mile 4 - 6:02 (short?), Mile 5 - 6:44 (long?), Mile 6 - 6:18.

I took down my first gel at mile 5 and would alternate Powerade and water from one water stop to the next (as always, sports drink diluted 50% with water). The next few miles were the most fun for me as I fed off runners still heading west on the shoreway. I believe there were 140+ Team In Training marathoners and I must have crossed paths with 1/2 of them at this point. We exchanged a fist pump, a thumbs up, or my favorite, a peace sign! I wasn't thinking much about my pace at this point so I was happy to see that miles 7-9 were fairly consistent (a little fast perhaps), 6:25, 6:20 and 6:37, respectively.

Mile 10... this is about the point you realize that this is no ordinary run. I've done countless runs at or faster than my marathon pace but rarely do they exceed 10-miles. Legs start to ache slightly, arms begin to feel a little heavy, etc. Plus, I've separated myself from most of the pack by this point and am running alone. The faster half-marathoners/marathoners are well ahead of me and those pacing for an even sub-3 are still a few minutes back. I zoom through Ohio City, past St. Ignatious and am on a collision course with Jacob's Field. Miles 10-12, 6:36, 6:41 and 6:34.

As I approach the halfway point, I wonder if I can hold this pace. It still seems so easy and heck, what's another 13.1 miles?!? I know better though. I've done this once or twice before and know what happens after 20 miles. Once again, I accepted that in order to clock another sub-3, I would really have to work for it in the end. Another strange thing happens at this point... I realize the marathon I've been waiting months for is half over! It's the same kinda feeling you get halfway through your senior year in high school. Anyway, miles 13-16 went very smooth, 6:32, 6:40, 6:41 and 6:34.

Just past the 16-mile mark is the art museum. This is where a bunch of us went to cheer for runners last year and is also where I jumped in with Bridget and helped her through the final 10 miles. Teresa and our nephew Michael were waiting there for me this year. I was so stoked to see them! In general, I'm not much of a talker but after 1 hour and 40 minutes without muttering a word, I was happy to stop for a few seconds to say Hi and let her know how I was doing. So far, so good I thought as I continued on past the Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Institute of Music, Western Reserve Historical Society and the Museum of Natural History. There was a noticeable downhill at this point and I thought to hold back my pace a little. Also, I knew I had the clock on my side and could afford a couple slower miles with the hope of salvaging a little energy for the final 5-6 miles. Mile 17, 6:51. Mile 18, 6:59. This is the first time I've ever used this type of "save now, spend later" strategy this late in a marathon. Hmmm, don't they say not to try anything "new" on race day?

The easy part was long past and all I could hope for at this point was low winds as I turned onto North Marginal heading west back towards downtown. My aforementioned strategy backfired on me as I was unable to get back to my planned marathon pace by mile 20. Mile 19, 7:19. Mile 20, 7:16. Luckily for me, help showed up at mile 20.5 in the form of a fresh-legged 27 year old (AKA Bryce). I told him how the last few miles had gone and how I was feeling. Even though my splits were slowing, I felt good. After all, I had just passed (for good) a couple guys I had been yo-yo'ing with on MLK Blvd and ran strong past another guy who had taken to walking due to cramps. Mile 21, 7:10. Mile 22, 7:09. Bryce was encouraging me to lengthen my strides and would was helping me focus on short term goals like, "we're going to make this mile a good one" or "let's run hard to that building up there". It's amazing how far 4 miles can seem at this point.

Mile 23 was a blast as we neared the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Annie, Bryce's fiance, was out on the course as a coach for the Cleveland Team In Training group. She jumped in with us for 1/4-mile or so. Running with Bryce and Annie on my side was really special. I also managed to pick Lou out of the crowd at this point. Lou is such an inspiration to me for many reasons and as I slapped his hand on the way past, I felt as if some of his positive energy rubbed off on me. Mile 23, 7:03.

You'd be hard pressed to find one person who enjoys mile 24 of this course. Although it passes by the Science Center and Cleveland Browns Stadium, it ends with a tough climb up W. 3rd St. This is the same "bump" we encountered during mile 2 at which time it seemed like nothing. I labored pretty hard to the top, which seemed to take forever, and was able to resume my pre-hill pace by the 24-mile mark. Mile 24, 7:34.

With only 2 miles to go, and not having broke down completely, I was confident that I would once again break 3-hours. A couple of strong miles and I would finish in 2:56 something. Bryce was still with me and was doing his best to keep me focused and running strong. Small surges here and there was about all I had left but it was enough to keep my legs from locking up. Mile 25, 7:23.

Bryce peeled off E. 6th St. and left me to tackle the long stretch down Lakeside Ave. before turning back towards the finish line on St. Clair. Lakeside Ave was lined with cones on the right side of the street keeping runners on course. They were effective in that sense, but looking ahead, it seemed as though the cones went on forever! I was really struggling at this point but kept reminding myself of the scene at the finish line and that in a few short minutes I would be there to take it all in. I saw one my my Alaska Team In Training buddies just before the final turn onto St. Clair. The sun was peaking through the clouds at this point and I could almost see the finish line.

It was now time for the "Great Deception"! That is, running the last quarter mile strong and with a big smile on my face, thereby fooling the spectators into believing the previous 26 miles were a piece of cake. All the while, I was thinking of what I would do as I crossed the finish line. A little air guitar action would be fun, but my future children would never forgive me. Brushin' the dirt off my shoulders is a can't miss, but only to the hip-hop savvy. Struggling to muster a final kick or a smile (not even a tooth), I somehow managed to throw up my left hand with the old index finger shooting towards the sky. Then, I stopped!

2:57:54 was the official time, which I am thrilled with. Much better than my previous PR of 2:59:38 in which getting in under 3-hours wasn't a lock until the last tenth of a mile. Before getting my medal or having my chip removed, I walked over to where my Dad and brother were standing to talk with them. The father of one of my childhood friends heard my name announced as I crossed the finish line and came over to say hello. His daughter (my friend's kid sister) was running her first marathon. I believe Steve and Bridget were there to congratulate me as well but I'm not certain as the immediate 4-5 minutes following the run are a little fuzzy. I finally made my way over to receive my medal, etc. I took my time getting out of the 'runners only' area being sure to grab Twinkies, Iced tea, bananas, etc.

Teresa was on the left side of the final stretch and had to make her way through the crowd to find me. I imagined the scene from Rocky where he wins the fight and immediately begins to fight through the crowd yelling for Adrian! Teresa is my Adrian, minus the dorky glasses and day-job at a pet store (although she works with some animals). A big hug and kiss from her topped the race off and made it complete. We then went to brunch at Johnny Mango's in Ohio City and took our nephew to the Indians vs. Reds game in the afternoon, after which, he got to go down to the field and run the bases.

Things of note:

- I didn't have to use BodyGlide. I got away with wearing lightweight compression shorts under my running shorts and a lightweight longsleeve UnderArmour compression top.

- Gels every 5 miles seemed to work, although I may attempt to take them once every 4 miles after the first 10 miles.

- My lightweight Brooks Racer ST's served their purpose with no problems. I'm fortunate to be able to wear such light shoes for the longer distances.

- There's nothing like wearing the purple Team In Training jersey! I got support left and right throughout the course and felt inspired every time I looked down at it.

- It's almost impossible to ignore the discomfort at the end of a marathon. Even at the end when you know it will be over in seconds.

- I rather enjoyed the "new" course and will run it again in the future.

- Qualified for Boston by 13 minutes, but may not be able to go in 2008. 2009 is a definite although I may have to use the time in my fall marathon to enter.

May 20, 2007


Nearly two minutes faster than my previous PR last fall in Columbus! At this rate I'll set the world marathon record in about 25 years! My heart, head, body and soul are filled with content at this moment after having yet another fabulous marathon experience. Let's just say I'm an incredibly blessed individual. I've spoke of "moments" before and here are my top ten eleven from today (in chronological order)...

1. Kissing Teresa goodbye as she wished me good luck before leaving the house
2. Running into Elizabeth and Janet before the race start and sharing in our excitement
3. Seeing for the first time all of my family and friends who came out to support me at mile marker 6
4. Running eastbound on the shoreway opposite the runners still heading westbound and literally receiving hundreds of "GO TEAM" cheers
5. Noticing Athena and Bryce rushing to the corner near mile 10 to catch me just in the nick of time
6. Seeing Teresa and our nephew Michael by the art museum and stopping for a kiss
7. High fiving a small pack of Team In Training supporters near mile 17 and overhearing one of them say "he's not even out of breath!"
8. Meeting up with Bryce at mile 20.5 and having him pace me through mile 25
9. Running with both Bryce and his fiance Annie (a Cleveland TNT Coach) for a few minutes near mile 23
10. Seeing and pulling some positive vibes from Lou at mile 23
11. Hearing my name announced as the first Team In Training finisher and crossing the finish line in under 3 hours

May 15, 2007

So Tired, Tired of Waiting...

Tired of waiting for... where do I start?!? It's Tuesday and although work has been terribly boring of late (all day meetings and what not), the week is passing along at an acceptable pace. I don't want it to go too fast because I am really enjoying my taper but I also don't want it to drag because I'm super excited about the marathon on Sunday! Shall I start listing the reasons? For starters, it's the Cleveland Marathon for goodness sakes! We're talking home turf people! Lambeau Field in December! Psychologically, I feel as if I own the course, which hopefully will translate to a physical domination of the familiar terrain. My legs are relaxed. My mind is strong. Now if only I can get my heart to stay in my chest!

May 6, 2007

Huron Lighthouse Half-Marathon

Saturday - What was supposed to be a warm and sunny morning ended up being cool and overcast! Running on a sunny day goes a long way in lifting your spirits but can also beat you down after a while... especially if you're racing, so I was happy with the weather. My parents and I arrived at Huron High School's football stadium about 35 minutes early, which allowed me plenty of time to grab my race packet, head back to my car and loosen up a little before the 8:30 start. My Dad was curious as to how I was going to approach this race compared to how I approach a marathon. I didn't have a good answer, to be honest. I told him I would run faster than my planned marathon pace - which is easy to calculate based on whatever time I set as a goal (keep in mind, I like to run even splits) - but slower than 5K or 10K pace. Let's think... divide by two, carry the 1, yeah... my half-marathon pace should be right around 6:15/mile. Fast forward past some inaudible race instruction and a pre-race prayer and we were off and running.

I started off at a comfortable pace as four others shot out considerably faster. By the 3/4 mile mark, one of the four had a shoelace issue and had to pull off to the side. The other three were pacing off of each other at what seemed to be a 6:00/mile pace. Mile 1 - 6:13 and I was already in no-mans land feeling a little tight and not entirely relaxed. Mile 2 - 6:15 and watching up ahead as one of the three leaders was falling behind. Miles 3-4 averaged out at 6:18 and I was almost caught up with the third place runner. I passed him during mile 5, which was either short or downhill, 5:52. My parents drove by a couple times at this point and even pulled off the side of the road to snap a few photos. I started to feel really strong and had a solid sixth and seventh mile, 6:12 and 6:07. Overtook second place by mile 8 but was too far back (or so it seemed) to make an effort to chase down the leader. One of my friends who has won many races and competed at somewhat of an elite level told me never to stop running hard because you never know the condition of the runners in front of you. Mile 10 - 6:13. Mile 11, 6:12, took us onto a dirt trail heading directly back to the stadium. Mile 12 - 6:13. I made an attempt to run a fast 13th mile and did OK, 6:10, but was starting to lose steam. I did well to listen to my friends advice because the leader was just finishing as I hit the track for the last 1/4-mile. Official finish time, 1:21:13 (6:12/mile), which is a personal best for me in the half-marathon.

Sunday - Hit the road at 6AM for 4 miles before meeting up with Cathy at 6:30 to run the last 16 miles of my final 20-miler before Cleveland. Again, it was a little on the chilly side but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I had warmed up by 3 miles and ran comfortably throughout. I remember running one other "effortless" 20-miler before Boston '06 but they don't come along very often.

It's officially taper time!!