Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A New Chapter

This past week began a new chapter in my running story. The title of this chapter would be something along the lines of "Group Running" or something a little more imaginative. Sorry, it's 4:30 am, the creative juices aren't quite flowing yet. The point being, this past week I began running with a new running group that was formed at work. While it is developing into not exclusively a group comprised of only co-workers the original intent was such that employees of the hospital could join and train, race and socialize.

With a place as large as the hospital with over 14,000 employees and growing it's nice to get to know people from other departments and divisions. So often we get focused on our department or little group of co-workers that we see everyday that the rest of the workplace becomes this big mass of unknown people. So often you see the same groups sitting at the same tables at lunch time with very little change or interaction between groups from day to day. It seems in some ways we are all still in high school. The social aspect of the running group will definitely be a positive.

In terms of running I can see where this is going to up my game as well. Right now there is at least one other runner who I feel a bit of good natured competitiveness with during runs. After spending so much time running by myself and challenging only myself it is nice to get some external competitive stimulation. I know toward the end of my marathon training it became very easy to just cruise on my runs. I had lost a bit of competitive drive and was just happy to finish. If that is your goal then that is great, but for me part of the fun is the competition.

I also found out there are a couple of bonuses with the group. As part of the group we get access to a very nice training facility on bad weather days at the University of Cincinnati. We've been forced indoors this week due to snow and uncomfortably freezing temps. There is an 1/8 mile indoor track and of course the dreaded hamster wheel (treadmill). To save my knees I'm not going to spend a lot of the time on the track, because that is a lot of turns in the same direction over the course of 5-6 miles. The hamster wheel is much less torture, although still moderately torturous, when there is someone to run with and talk to while running to nowhere.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Disney Marathon Weekend

I've been trying to decide how to write about my Disney Marathon weekend with Team in Training. Do I want to break into two entries: one for the weekend and another for the race? One long entry? Just a quick paragraph to say hey it was awesome and keep the memories to myself? It's been tough to decide, and so much happened over the weekend that it's taking a while to sort it all out. So, what I've decided is to hit the highlights. These are the top 5 moments and revelations from my Disney Marathon weekend in no particular order.
5. Running with a team is much more fun.

My experience with Team in Training was just phenomenal. I wasn't able to make it to many of the training runs over the fall, which made me a little nervous about going down to Disney with a bunch of strangers. I was preparing myself to spend some time alone. I was good with that. Maybe I got lucky, but it turned out to be a wonderful group of people. Some of which I will have friendships with long after the weekend.

Not only did having a good group of people make traveling more enjoyable and the stay a ton of fun, but it made all the difference on race day. During my first marathon my family came out to support me which was wonderful, but they can only be so many places on the course. I saw them at about the halfway point and then at the end. They couldn't be there for me when the pain started around mile 18. There was no familiar faces when the cramps slowed me down to a walk at mile 20 and 21 and 22...

With Team in Training we had coaches all over the course to help out, to check on you, to give you support, or even to run or walk with you. We had scream teams all along the course to wave signs and yell your name. There were points in the race that I was expecting to see a friend at a certain point in the race, and it was hard to find them, because as I was running someone was yelling my name with every step! It was awesome.
With the team we had many people after the race to celebrate with, to compare notes, to console, to complain to about all the little things that happen in a marathon that nobody else would understand. With the team you have comrades in arms. It's a battle out there and you're not alone.
4. Running for a cause gives you strength.

One of the most memorable moments came before the race. The Team in Training Pasta Party was incredible. Hundreds of Team in Training participants, coaches, families, and heroes gathered to celebrate the accomplishments that really mattered. This wasn't only a marathon this was fundraising for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Wonderful stories were told by survivors. We heard the story of how Team in Training began. We met and had dinner with teams from all over the Americas with teams from the U.S as well as Peurto Rico, Canada and Mexico.

Everything was put into perspective and we were inspired.

3. Every race doesn't have to be for a PR.

3:30. That was my goal time. What are you going to run at the marathon Adam? I'm going to run around a 3:30. I can't count how many times I said that in the months before the race. Did I? Not even close. Things were looking great the first half of the race. I was feeling good. I was on pace. Everything was falling into place. Things changed shortly after mile 13. Maybe it was the heat and humidity. Maybe I didn't get enough rest because I chose to go out the day before and cheer on the half marathon runners rather than rest. Maybe it was a combination of things. What I wouldnt' say though is that the wheels fell off, or things went south.

Shortly after mile 13 I came to a realization. Today wasn't going to be the day. I was having a lot of fun out on the course with the fans and the team, but today just wasn't going to be the day for a pr. So what do I do? Quit? Piss and moan? Nah. This was 5 months of training and fundraising. This was about more than me and my pr. This was the party at the end of all the hard work. This was a celebration. A weight lifted off my shoulders. I smiled. I enjoyed the rest of the race. Leg cramps, tiredness, disgusting Powerade. It didn't matter. I smiled and ran on.

2. Smile

Race photos can be terrible. In you're mind's eye your a cheetah. You're sleek and fast and furious. In your mind's eye that determined look on your face is going to look awesome in the photos. Guess what? Unless you're a ripped, 2% body fat speed demon 90% of the time those photos are going to be cringe worthy. Believe me I've had my share. My determined running face makes me look like my grandpa running. Fat cheeks don't look cool on the run. If you see a camera, smile. Raise your hands. Do something goofy. Have fun.

1. Do something fun the day after a marathon.
There is one word that describes the day after a marathon....pain. If you don't have the pain kudos to you, but what I saw at the resort the day after Disney was a lot of people shuffling along with looks of pain on their faces. Do something fun if you can. Go to the pool, take a walk, get a massage. Get those muscles moving and feeling good. If you're in Disney it's easy. Go ride some rides!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Final Long Run

Yesterday we had the final long run before Disney. It was also our final official Team In Training group run. As far as long runs go it was very short at only 6 miles, but this was more about meeting up for the last time, giving each other a pat on the back for all the hard work and ironing out plans for the trip to Orlando. I can't believe it is finally here!

It's time to get my stuff together. Above I have my singlet that I received for the race. I've got some iron on letters to put my name on it, so I can elicit some cheers while running so far away from home. I also need to find some sort of white clothing paint or ink. I will be carrying the names of people that I will be running for somehow. My initial plan was to get ribbons and put the names on it, but if I can put it directly on the singlet that would be even better. Then I will be a keepsake and reminder of this great event.

The people I will be running for thanks to some wonderful donations:

Blanche Iker, Janet Chaney, Dalmer Wells, Dotty Radenheimer, Jim Grau, Jeff Atkins, Helen Atkinson, Henry Kundzicz, Betty Mussey, Sue Garner, Inez Minton, Hans Wunsch, David Minton, Patricia Bogart, Kay Paff, Patty Wolf, and Katie Seibert.

These are all people that have been through, battling, or died from some form of cancer. This is the first time that I've put all the names in a list. It really puts things into perspective. It's been 5 months of training and fundraising. It seemed monumental, but I could have stopped at any time. I'm going to run 26.2 miles, but I don't have to, my life doesn't depend on it. These people have battled or are battling a disease that could take their lives. They don't have a choice, they can't just stop. I am proud to carry their names.