So Far, Not So Good…..


OK – I know I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time. So let me first give you a heads-up on what’s coming up this week. I’m going to share a review of the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I ran a 5k on Friday, a half marathonon Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday (this act of lunacy is lovingly referred to as doing “The Dopey”). Since it is already March 2nd, I’ll provide you with a summary of my lack-luster efforts to this point. But first, let me share with you a new goal that I decided on at the end of January….

So my New Year’s resolutions were made official:

· Drop my weight to 185 pounds, in order to be able to take my running to the next level,
· Log more than 2,013 miles in 2013 in an attempt to prepare for quicker distance event times,
· Run the 2013 New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile in under 7 minutes, and
· Run a marathon in four hours or less (hopefully the 2013 ING New York City Marathon).

An added goal for the year is to complete my first Ultra event. An Ultra event is any race that requires the runner to cover more than 26.2 miles. The first one I am gunning for is a race called Worth the Hurt. It begins the night before the 2013 San Francisco Marathon, where a number of runners begin at the course’s Finish line and run the course to the Marathon’s official starting line. The runners try to reach the Starting Line before the gun goes off on Marathon Sunday so that they can turn around and run the course again from Start to Finish. 52.4 miles. Is it really worth the hurt? If I can raise some money for the Dream Team Project by doing this, then my answer is yes. If for some reason I cannot score a spot in Worth the Hurt, I’ll run the New York Road Runners annual Knickerbocker 60k in the late fall – that’s a marathon plus an additional 10 miles plus. This one is easier than Worth the Hurt (because it’s shorter)– but it’s also very uneventful, as it consists of laps around Central Park….over and over and over again.

So let’s throw that up on the board, officially. Goal number 5 for 2013:
· Complete my first ultra.

As I continue to re-read the goals that I’ve set for myself, I realize that my ability to achieve all of them revolves around one main concept: dropping weight. Losing weight has never been my strongest suit. I like food way too much. Tasty food. Chocolate. Wine. Pasta. So my personal goals for 2013, in my humble opinion, will be MUCH more difficult to attain. But if I begin to drop weight, putting in an average of 5.5-6 miles a day will feel like less of an overall effort on a day-in, day-out basis. My speed will increase. I’ll have a shot at a sub 7 minute mile. I will be able to hold a sub 9 minute pace for longer periods of time in an effort to drop my marathon time to sub 4 hours. It all comes down to dropping my weight. And I have a LOT of weight to remove. But before I can develop my plan of attack, I have to dig in and find some damn self-control. Just say no to cookies. I need to say nay-nay to foods that I know are no good for me – which will result in saying adios to loaded burritos, zai jian to General Tso and his delicious chicken, and auf wiedersehen to WMD’s (Waffles of Massive Deliciousness).

At this point, in order to attain my goal of logging more than 2,013 miles this year I will need to book at least 43-44 miles a week. This is going to be rough.

It’s 31 days into the New Year…and I’ve gone a crappy job with regard to adjusting my diet to this point. I need to kick this into gear, ASAP.
___________________________________________________________________________-

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

20130302-114515.jpg

Advertisements

…And Last But Not Least…


So far I have shared three of my goals for 2013 with you. None of them has the panache of running 12 marathons in 2012 – “12 in ’12” – but, when grouped together, the challenges that I’ve established for myself in the upcoming year will be much more challenging than what I just completed. Why? Because completing 12 marathons in 2012 really required just a bit of tenacity and a high threshold for pain. The goals I’ve established in 2013 will require actual daily focus and discipline. And let’s face it: I lack discipline.

To quickly recap: in order to continue to raise money in 2013 for The Dream Team Project, I will chase the following goals for the year…
1) log over 2,013 miles in 2013
2) drop my weight to 185 pounds in order to improve my health and running performance
3) run The 2013 Fifth Avenue Mile in 6:45 or less

…and my fourth goal for this coming year is…..

4) run the 2013 ING New York City Marathon in a time of 4 hours or less.

This one is the one that scares me. My best marathon time – ever – is 4:59:36. If I fully dedicate myself to working on losing weight and maintaining a strict, daily focus on my training like never before, I hope to shave an hour off of my marathon time this year. The last ten miles of a marathon I normally take my foot off the gas and sputter to the finish line. Well that ends now.

The Tool will be back in 2013. There is no way to avoid him. As a matter of fact, he’s in the room with me right now as I type this. And he’ll probably be perched on my shoulder all year long, like a squawking parrot whose high-pitch screeches provide migraines in short order. Some days you’re the bird, and some days you’re the statue.

_____________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

20121230-205411.jpg

Sub 7.


Thus far, I’ve shared with you two of my goals for 2013:
1) log a minimum of 2,013 miles during the year, and
2) drop my weight to 185 pounds in order to improve my running performance.

My third goal for 2013 is one that will take a lot of work to accomplish, but only a single mile to fulfill. I will run the 2013 Fifth Avenue Mile in 6 minutes and forty five seconds or less.

That pace – 6:45 – is one that I have never hit before in my life. Ever. But this is the year that I will make it happen. The way I look at it, if I focus on my first two goals for the coming year, this third goal is very attainable.

For one day, I want to release my inner Kenyan.

______________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Marathon #12: Early One December Morning…


After a great Sunday in Philadelphia, marathon number 11 was in the books. All I needed was one more run of 26.2 miles in order to attain my goal for the year. But there were no marathons scheduled which were easily accessible for me through December 31st. As you might be able to tell….that’s a problem.

My confidence was shot based on the failed solo marathon attempt a few weeks prior – but Iknew that the weather could take aturn toward the 30’s very soon. So I made the decision to gun for marathon number 12 on Sunday, December 2nd. This would have to be a solo effort, and I knew that I couldn’t just run laps around Central Park – I have the attention span of a cocker spaniel surrounded by squirrels. So this run would need to be an out and back course. I determined that the best thing for me to do was to begin covering the same course that I ran solo – with success – earlier in the year. Knowing that literally running around Manhattan like a tourist maintained my attention throughout the entire effort made my confidence rise. The added pressure of the cold weather coming in ernest also raised my sense of urgency – and that should help keep me motivated as well. It was either complete the distance on December 2nd – or fail to accomplish my goal for 2012.

The Saturday before the long run, I found myself in Eastern Mountain Sports, looking through the various Camelbacks that they have available. Last time I ran out of water at around mile 15-16. The last ten miles were rough. I needed to ensure that this type of issue would not occur again – so I purchased a camelback bladder which held 100 ounces of water. I figured that should get me further along the course! I filled it up, threw it in my small backpack…and the realized just how much additional weight I would be carrying along this run. No personal best times in the morning, that’s for sure. I didn’t sleep well the night before the run – the make or break for my year would occur in the morning, and I would be lugging along some added weight on my back that I didn’t really budget for. Nerves set in as if I were bracing myself for the ING New York City Marathon. Then it hit me: this run would take the place of the New York City Marathon for me this year, and I did obtain one of the medals that would have been bestowed on any finisher of the race a month prior. So I made the silent decision that, if I am able to finish the run tomorrow, I would crack the 26.2 mile marker right near Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Then I would do somehting special with the medal in January during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.

Morning came, and the weather was questionable. Damp, foggy and in the low 40’s. Strong chance of rain. Not exactly the greatest juju – but not the worst either. The weather was as questionable as my chances of success.

I began my run along west side drive at 72nd street, heading south. I coasted past the Intrepid, and checked out the Space Shuttle. After playing the tourist for 2.3 seconds, I continued south toward Chelsea Piers all the way to Battary Park. I ran out along each and every pier along the west side, just to get myself out above the Hudson River for a few minutes at a time. Coming from a small island in the Bronx, I grew up on and around the water. My family owned a boat yard for generations. I love to swim, fish, and scuba dive. Water is the element that I feel most comfortable in and around – so just being near it relaxes me. I know- that sounds sort-of, well, dumb – but it’s true. I pressed on around Battery Park, and made the turn up the east side drive.

Once I hit South Street Seaport I decided to hang a left on to Fulton Street to see the really nice, trendy shops. I was stunned to see every single one of these stores destroyed by the hurricane and the subsequent looting that took place. Not exactly the sight I hoped to see almost 9 miles into my run – but it served as a reminder to be thankful for just how lucky I am. I go through my days and complain when I get stuck in traffic or I have to work late. In the grand scheme of things, I am so damn lucky compared to others – I just lose sight of it. Passing through Fulton Street was just the reminder I needed to keep my life in perspective.

I hung a left and made my way to Wall Street, where I checked out the spot where George Washington took his oath as first President of the United States. That big stone block and monument is something I really enjoy checking out each time I get to lower Manhattan. From there, I went down Broadway to The Bull, then turned back around and began heading North to City Hall, running up The Canyon of Heros.

I passed through City Hall Park, and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge…where I made a last second decision to head into Brooklyn. Over the bridge I went, to Cadman Plaza. One small loop around that little park, and I headed back over the Brooklyn Bridge. Cool – I was in 2 boroughs thus far.

Once I got back into Manhattan, I continued up Broadway, where my time was hampered by traffic and tons of street lights – but who cared? I was more than half way to my 26.2 mile goal. At this point, I had less miles to run than I had already logged. The backpack was getting lighter as I sipped water whenever I felt like I needed it. The backpack itself wasn’t a terrible distraction – but it did slow me up a bit at the start. This factor may have actually been a good thing because I normally go out too fast. The next cool tourist spot I passed was The Flatiron Building on 23rd street, followed by Macy’s on 34th Street and then Times Square. I hung a right on 42nd and ran past Grand Central Station all the way to First Avenue. I made a left on First Avenue and ran past the United Nations, and continued north.

While on First Avenue, I realized that I had just past mile 20. Only ten kilometers to go. For the first time I began to postiviely visualize the completion of my year’s goal. At the same moment, however, I also realized that I had run out of water. I was cold, sore and tired – so I made the decision to just slug it out for one more hour and then I can head home, victorious. I picked up my pace slightly and noticing that I was on the corner of 57th street and First Avenue, made the decison to run over the 59th Street Bridge and back. Lets get a 3rd borough in this morning, I said aloud to…no one in particular.

As I looked up the incline of Mount Sonofabitch (the 59th Street Bridge’s real name – look it up, Google is your friend), I realized that running the hardest hill on the ING New York City Marathon course in both directions 20+ miles into a solo marathon is ridiculously dumb. But I also thought that something like this – running a dozen marathon in a year for a wonderful charity – should not be finished with a nice flat coast to the end. What this deserved – what this effort almost required – was one last hurdle to clear. And this bridge has been my enemy since 2005. So it was almost poetic that I dueled with this obstacle at the end of my journey. Up the incline I went, slow, cold and steady. When I got the the highest point and the roadway began its downward angle, I actually picked up my pace and it felt incredible. 22+ miles in to this run and I was groovy.

When I arrived at the base of the bridge on the Queens side, I turned and began the slow trek back. Remembering that the mind quits before the body does, my mantra for getting back over the bridge was simple: “Nope – not yet” (as in: Nope, not yet – not time to stop yet. Nope. Keep moving. Nope. Don’t quit. You’re fine. Move.). When I finally arrived back in Manhattan, I had less than 5 kilomters to go – so I headed toward the park. I put in a lower loop and had to backtrack along the west side roadway of Central Park a second time so that I could finish my 26.2 miles close to Tavern on the Green. When I stopped my watch, I placed my hands on my hips and bent at the waist. My chest was sore. So were my arms. I was cold and hungry. Definitely thirsty. My calves were cramping pretty badly. But I didn’t move. I just stood there. Right near the official finish line of my annual Superbowl. No fans to scream for me. No medals, heat sheets and photographers. Just me and the moment – and that felt right.

OK – I’ll admit: I teared up a bit. I’m sure runners that passed me by and saw me a bit emotional were probably thinking “what a pansy – that’s not even a hill and it made him cry!!”. I didn’t care. I found a park bench near the South Lawn and took a few minutes for myself. I thought of what I went through during the year. 314.4 miles of marathons in 12 months, three of which I ran solo. There were injuries, tons of assinine mistakes, poor planning, weak preparation, shoddy diet maintenance throughout the year, and an abundance of lackluster training efforts. However, in spite of everything I did poorly, I managed to finish the goal I put in place a year ago. Lord knows I’m not fast. I’m not even close to qualifying for Boston. I have a TON of work to do to become the distance runner that I want to be. But this year I found something in myself that I didn’t know I had much of: courage. The one and only thing I did consistently right this year was have the courage to push through pain and not quit (even when I reeeeeeeally wanted to). So I may be as slow as a turtle – but I have the foundation to improve. Greater things are possible.

So there you have it. 12 marathons in 12 months to raise money for the Dream Team Project. Mission accomplished. Hmmmm…..so what’s next?

______________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

20121220-224458.jpg

20121220-224527.jpg

20121220-224540.jpg

20121220-224554.jpg

20121220-224608.jpg

20121220-224636.jpg

20121220-224708.jpg

20121220-224721.jpg

20121220-224738.jpg

20121220-224747.jpg

20121220-224759.jpg

20121220-224814.jpg

20121220-224824.jpg

20121220-224839.jpg

20121220-224854.jpg

20121220-224902.jpg

20121220-224914.jpg

20121220-224931.jpg

20121220-224950.jpg

20121220-225029.jpg

20121220-225036.jpg

20121220-225045.jpg

20121220-225057.jpg

Monday Morning Motivation


Begin with the end in mind. Start off with a goal It doesn’t matter how big or small the goal is – just have one and shoot for it. Once you attain it, assign a slightly bigger one for yourself. Hit those small goals each day and you know what you have? A winning streak. And there’s nothing better than a winning streak.

______________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

20121217-045850.jpg

Marathon #11: The 2012 Philadelphia Marathon


After my failure to complete 26.2 in Central Park on November 11th, I needed to quickly regroup and get focused on the next challenge: the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon. When I origianlly planned out my race year, Philly was pegged as the location where I would finish up my 12 marathons in one year challenge. However, since the ING New York City Marathon was cancelled and the prior Sunday’s efforts were without any form of merit, Philly would only represent number eleven for the year. Even if I cross the finish line, I am still 26.2 miles short of achieving my goal. And that – to use a technical term – sucks.

I spent the week logging some slow, unfocused miles with absolutely no daily goals to attain while training. I have to admit: my workouts are MUCH better when I plan out what I want to achieve the night before. If I leave my apartment with a small goal in my head, my morning run is MUCH more effective. I come home happy as a clam. (Where the HELL did that old saying come from? Why in the name of Zues’ rear-end are clams “happy”? Can anyone tell me? Think about it: the best thing that can happen to a clam is that it produces the rare pearl. Wonderful. Good for the clam. Can it cash in on its good fortune by selling the stupid thing to Tiffany’s or an Ebay? I think NOT. Clams don’t have access to the internet. Clams cannot watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Clams never played a game of Madden Football on a PS3. So I say again: why in the blue hell are they happy?)

Wow. I just read that last paragraph. What the hell was I thinking? I’m as sharp as a bowling ball.

ANYWAY…like I was saying….

Whenever I have a plan of attack for a morning workout, I feel much more focused while I’m running or cross-training. When I come home after hitting my goal for the morning, it sets the tone for a more productive day. When I don’t have a plan developed for the morning run, I simply head out my front door and quickly lose focus. I feel like I can cut my workout short if I’m simply not motivated to continue. I know myself : I’m like a dense, cranky mule. In order to keep me moving, I need someone to hang a carrot in front of my face (preferably sauted, with a side of fries). I need constant motivation. The goal needs to always be in front of me. So in order to combat the clouds of failure hanging over my head, I really focused on a daily game plan for each morning’s run. As Wednesday and Thursday came and went, I realized that I had hit my targets for each morning thus far: 4 miles in 40 minutes on Monday. A steady 5 miler at a 10:20 pace on Tuesday. Cat Hill repeats on Wednesday (those sucked). 4 miles with 1 minute pick-ups every 4 minutes on Thursday (that one made me heave). The clouds began to dissipate. Maybe I can get Philly done after all. I headed down to Philadelphia on Saturday morning, in the words of Paul Simon, “feelin’ groovy”.

The Philadelphia Marathon expo was well organized, pretty large and diverse, and the race gear was some of the best I’ve seen all year long. Picking up the race bib was incredibly fast and efficient. And this race has one of the best technical shirts out there. This marathon also opened its doors to several thousand New York city Marathon runners at the last moment, which I really thought was a classy thing to do. I left the expo and headed back to the hotel nice and early, feeling nothing but positive vibes from the City of Brotherly Love.

Marathon Morning arrived, and the starting line was a long, relaxed walk from my hotel. I woke up early, took my time getting ready, and headed out the door still feeling pretty groovy – but knowing that I had already made two rookie mistakes:

1) I didn’t eat well enough at dinner the night before the race. I had a small portion of pasta, and I know I didn’t get enough calories. Dumb move. But wait – I like to double down on my stupidity….

2) I didn’t eat breakfast. Not even a Pop Tart. DUMB DUMB DUMB.

Going into the race, I knew that I didn’t fuel well enough. That brings me to a note that I want to share for anyone about to run their first full marathon: when you begin to plan out how you’ll attack a marathon course, do NOT forget to plan out your meals, fluid intake and scheduled rest for the 24 hours beforehand. I tend to blow these important factors off and just focus on how I will run the race itself. Well – you aren’t going to run well if there’s no fuel in the tank!

The race began promptly at 7am, and half marathon and marathon runners were mixed into the same corrals. While I thought this might cause some real congestion at the start the race began, in fact, extremely well spaced-out. The first 13 miles were extremely stimulating, weaving our way through various neighborhoods and really getting a nice touch of the local flavor. As we approached the area where the half marathoners peeled off of the course and headed to the finish line, the full marathoners crossed over the Schuylkill River, ran past Boat House Row, and began a 13 mile out-and-back course that ran us along the shoreline. The packs of fans along the second half of the marathon course were small yet VERY lively, and they helped me along when the going got tough. I also noticed a large number of Team For Kids runners on the course, most of which were reeling in their first marathon medal looking VERY strong. As a TFK Mentor, it felt FANTASTIC to see these runners staying steady in the latter portion of the race.

Now I will admit something here: I actually enjoy out-and-back courses. Some people don’t like them because it means that you see the same things twice instead of getting to see more of the town / city you are running in. My view is that I really like these types of courses because seeing the faster runners fly down the course motivates me. In addition, an out-and-back course includes a turn where you know that you are offically heading toward the finish line. Lastly, it allows you to see how far you’ve come during the race.

The last miles were really scenic. Past Boat House Row, up an incline and head toward the Art Museum. The last 600 meters was a nice decline with tons of fans along both sides of the course. although my momentum began to sputter due to a lack of fuel at around miles 18-19, I hung in there fairly well and finished with a smile on my face.

I headed back to the hotel sore yet satisfied. I had done well enough, based on the poor preparation. I made mental notes on what to correct for my next race, as well as what I did well. On the train ride home, I realized that I only needed one more marathon before the end of the year…but there were no marathons being run close to me between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.

This is a problem.

______________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

20121213-200852.jpg

20121213-200931.jpg

20121213-200941.jpg

20121213-200950.jpg

20121213-201009.jpg

20121213-201019.jpg

20121213-201027.jpg

Marathon #10: The 2012 Chicago Marathon


One week after running the Tower of Terror 10 miler in Florida, I found myself in the lively city of Chicago, preparing for the Chicago Marathon.

 

Chicago is a city that I have come to truly appreciate and enjoy. I arrived at O’Scare Airport on Friday morning and immediately checked in to the Peninsula Hotel. This place is AMAZING. My room was something out of a James Bond movie – the entire room was controlled by a single control panel on my night table. Once I dumped my bag in the room, I set out to the Expo. As I left the hotel, one of the housekeeping staff wished me a good day…and my response was “Kolinsky. Joe Kolinsky”. Oh yeah – I was, in the words of that famous philosopher Austin D. Powers, feeling “completely shagadelic”.

The Expo was incredibly well organized. Buses took runners and their families from different location around the city to the Convention Center, where volunteers used Ipads to check the runners in and issue them their bibs. I had my bib number and all other essentials within moments, leaving me free to wander the vendor booths and check out all of the upcoming marathons being advertised, the various new forms of energy bars and electrolyte drinks, and other various running “stuff”. As an impulse buy, I picked up a pair of Newtons (for those of you wondering – “Fig Newtons? A lost group of refugees from the town of Newton? Sir Isaac Newton’s long lost great great great grandson?”….Google is your friend…) because I know that I am a heavy heel-striker. The more I run, the more I think that I must look like a cross between Alfred E Newman and Lerch from the old Addams Family TV show when I waddle through 26.2. So a pair of Newtons may just assist me with adjusting my stride to that of a normal human being. I made my way through the Expo in about an hour, and then headed to a local Chicago Deep Dish Pizza joint for a lesson in how to carbo-load, Midwest style. I arrived back at the Peninsula a rather stuffed yet happy camper.

 

Marathon morning arrived with a slight chill in the air, cloudy skies and a decent wind. I walked from the hotel along Michigan Avenue to the runner’s village maintained in Millennium Park. The level of organization for this race continued to impress me, as the village was separated into two distinct areas: one section for the runners participating in the first wave, and another section for those of us running in the second wave. In between waves, there was a thirty minute window of time to allow the race to progress smoothly from the start. Before I knew it, the first wave took off and we were being beckoned to our corrals.

 

The course is extremely flat and fast – and that was a welcome change from the various races I’ve run earlier in the year. I have a rather deep, seething hatred for any incline included within any race I run. Chicago’s course, therefore, gave me the warm and fuzzies.

 

I felt fantastic at the start, as I normally do. I controlled my pace and did not allow the runners around me to dictate my splits. Usually I succumb to peer pressure and feel this uncontrollable need to keep up with complete strangers that are running a much quicker pace that I normally do. Even though I’ve been passed by exactly 1,227,567,123 runners thus far in my running career, the general concept of actually being passed by anyone gets my knickers in a twist. So it is extremely difficult to stay under control…especially at the beginning of the race, when I feel like a world-beater. Somehow, I was able to block out what was going on around me and focus on my own race. As a Team For Kids mentor, I try to remind runners that are training for their first marathon to “run your own pace – not someone else’s”. Up to this point – that rule was a solid example of do as I say…not as I do. I was shocked that, on this morning, I heeded my own advice.

 

Nine miles into the race, I felt very positive and under complete control. I continued to clip off miles at a slow and steady pace, hitting the half marathon point in approximately two hours and eighteen minutes. This is the exact point in the race where my head normally begins to lose its focus for a bit – between the half-way point and the mile 17 marker. Unfortunately for me, this morning was no different. I lose track of my breathing. I become distracted with Marathon Math (when a marathoner begins constantly checking his/her watch as they begin to tire, trying to calculate on the fly the “acceptable” splits that they think they’ll be able to maintain through the finish). I also lose the ability to block out some of the negativity begin sprouted by The Tool (and if you haven’t been properly introduced to that tiny 4cm bastard, check out one of my older blog posts for a brief description: ___). Once I lose focus, I find it incredibly difficult to regain that world-beater feeling. I slow down….and then I begin to take a walk break or two. This is exactly what happened during the second half of this race.

 

The support on the course was wonderful. The volunteers were everywhere. There was an air of positivity within the entire city that the runners seem to feed off. The temperature was basically perfect once the race got underway and I began to exercise. There was no pounding sun to contend with. No external reasons for my poor performance. It simply boiled down to the fact that I lost my focus and could not regain it. This is going to be a major hurdle to clear before I can drastically improve my performance.

 

It felt fantastic finishing the 2012 Chicago Marathon. The finish line of any marathon is a special place for a runner – but Chicago is one of the Marathon Majors (Boston, New York, Berlin and London are the other four that make up this sport’s – for lack of a better term – Grand Slam), and over the years there have been some incredible finishes. So being able to cross the same finish line as some of the greatest runners in the world is a privilege that I’ve never lost sight of. However, one thing I keep thinking of is a quote from Steve Prefontaine: “Do give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. Each time I’ve crossed the finish line I’ve felt like I tried hard…but I have yet to put it all together and run my perfect race. For me, the perfect race is one where I start off completely under control, maintain the exact same pace per mile for 25 miles, and then drop the hammer for the last 1.2 miles, picking up my pace and crossing the finish line almost unable to catch my breath. The perfect race is out there, and at some point I’ll capture it. But until then, all I can do is just keep trying.

 

______________________________________

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409