Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Runner's Hat Trick

This week’s training in preparation for the 114th running of the Boston Marathon brought the most diversity to my training I think I’ve seen—pretty much A to Z. With weather ranging from 15 degrees to 55 degrees and 950 miles apart (Denver to San Francisco.)

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and just what my wife and Valentine wanted to do was to go out in 15 degree weather early on Sunday morning for a run. The weather forecast called for low temps (15 degrees) and snow. I’ve been wanting to get some hills in during a light snow and test drive my new Yak Traks—essentially tire chains for running shoes.

I targeted the Roxborough State Park known for their picturesque rock formations and trails. Our dog “Munch” had to stay behind as there are no pets allowed as they are like Chipotle stuffed burritos for the mountain lions. On the subject of mountain lions—not the smartest thing I’ve done is running in an area known for these large cats. Note to self…invite a slower friend next time. I find out after the fact that in the newly remodeled visitor’s center, that had several lion sightings in the area with comments like…”dragging their kill.” NIIICCE!

Not knowing I was in danger, it was one the most memorable runs I’ve had in a long time. The light snow was still falling and the Yak Traks did not fail as the footing was not an issue at all. Having a bit of elevation and running through the snow…a bit like running in sand meant a bit more exertion than normal, but no complaints here (click on snow picture for the video.)

As they say, “tis a privilege to live in Colorado.”

The work schedule called for a trip to the Bay Area on Tuesday so I checked the weather report and packed all the gear double-checking to make sure I had the Garmin and running shoes. With only one rest day a week, training does not take a vacation when I travel.

One of the bucket list items I’d already checked off was a run over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco—I’d actually run from the city over the bridge through Sausalito and into Tiburon. I’d finished that run with lunch in Tiburon (plenty of great options there) and took the Ferry back into the city.

This was a work week and the schedule called for 4-5 miles so I “squeezed” in a shorter run over the bridge into my lunch hour. It's difficult to compare, but I knocked out another breathtaking run in one week with an un-seasonably warm weather run over the bridge. After I posted on my DailyMile, Facebook, and Twitter, folks wondered…who shot the video?...Ironically a runner in town from San Paulo Brazil running in a 10 mile race that weekend. Another killer run for the week (click the Bay Bridge picture.)

Since I misread my training schedule, my Tuesday (before I left Denver) track training turned into a 3/3/1 tempo run (three mile warm-up, three mile 10K pace, and one mile cool-down.) Since my travels sent me south in the Bay Area on Thursday, I figured I’d “flip-flop” tempo for track. I figured why not pick a nice track? I sought out Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field in Palo Alto.

I walked in as the college athletes were warming up for their afternoon practice while the nearby coaches looked on. I preceded to stretch out in the stands and started to feel “I’m not worthy” as the premier and wicked fast track and field stars were stretching far beyond what this aged runner could mimic. I slid onto the track like I belonged there and was promptly “busted” by the track and field director and two-time Olympian, Edreck Floreal. I turned it into “small talk” with Edreck asking how this year’s team was doing and got the “not as good as I’d like” response. I slithered off the track with my tail between my legs, but not before I got my video (click on track pic.)

Feeling dejected and inspired, I went about cranking out my six by 800’s on the Stanford Campus finishing outside the fence of Cobb Field.

So I pulled the “hat trick” with three memorable runs in one week. Tonight is dinner in Palo Alto, tomorrow I fly home, hydrate and rest and finish the week with my longest training run of this training session with 22 miles with Runner’s Edge of the Rockies on Saturday morning.

Life is good….

By the way, my 800 intervals averaged 6:33—take that Edreck!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I didn't see this one coming

For the 114th running of the Boston Marathon, I qualified late in the season and registration was closed. I was faced with two options; wait a year and a ½ for the 115th Boston Marathon or explore a charity entry.

As I’ve mentioned before, I ran in the 2008 Chicago Marathon and raised money for “Joints in Motion” and the Arthritis Foundation. I truly enjoyed the charitable aspect of training and raising money so it was an easy decision to pick a charity and run in April. Team in Training (TNT) and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) clearly jumped out as the right fit based on the energy and passion I’ve seen from the TNT runners in previous races. Given the fact that my wife’s grandmother has adult Leukemia, it was the clear choice to sign up with a goal of raising $4,000 for the cause.

Just as the Grinch’s heart grew as he began to understand something better…”Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true mean
ing of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!” Not insinuating that I resemble the Grinch, but I hadn’t honestly established a connection with the cause early on. As I’ve talked about before here on my blog, the most unlikely people began to tell me how Leukemia has touched their lives and “stoked the fire” for me to hit my goal and train harder. It gives you a little extra motivation when the early morning run alarm clock goes off, it’s dark, and it’s 20 some degrees outside.

The biggest inspiration came from all places, Facebook. Being in the internet business, I’ve tried to leverage all areas of the cyber world to help raise money for this worthy cause
including email, blogging, twitter, ebay (selling ad space on my body marathon day…that one didn’t work so well) and Facebook. I was promoting a Wine Tasting Benefit I was hosting for LLS on Facebook and started to get support from old High School classmates.

In my inbox one morning was an email from a classmate who I’d fell “out of touch” with years ago—Tim.
Tim told me he’d be more than happy to speak at the event. Over the weeks leading up to the event and that evening I began to understand Tim’s story. Tim’s only daughter, Kyra, was diagnosed with Leukemia as a young girl. She went through 2.5 years of chemotherapy and the disease seemed to be under control. As she entered her teens, she relapsed and went through another round of chemotherapy. Kyra had adult Leukemia at this point at the age of 16 and needed a blood transplant. She was months away from a transplant that would have given her a 30% chance of beating this. Talking to Tim, I’ve got to know about Kyra and understand that she was a wonderful young woman that often smiled and rarely ever complained. On New Years Day in 2009, Kyra slipped into a coma and ultimately succumbed to the disease on March 14, 2009. As a father, I can’t imagine going through this or how to move forward. Tim tells me that he still cries every day and is trying to move on in his life.

He’s gone though his battles in dealing with this—he’s looking for work, and went through divorce.
At the benefit, Tim stood in front of 35 people and told the story of Kyra. I am amazed at his courage and the positive attitude he maintains despite what he’s gone through and continues to deal with. I didn’t see this one coming…not surprisingly, qualifying for Boston seems insignificant…the roughly 600 training miles I will put in seems even less significant than the work Tim and Kyra put in. I would say that running in the Marathon itself also seems insignificant except that the money I raise will go towards something good—research for a cure, and helping out families dealing with blood cancers. Suffice it to say, I will have Kyra in my mind as I run Boston, and I will sport her name during the race.

As of this writing, I am 79% of the way towards my fund raising goal. If you have not allocated your charity $ yet this year, please consider donating to this worthy cause. (I have paid my way to Boston, and 100% of the funds raised go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.)

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine