This is my (3 part) story and I'm sticking to it

For now.

October 29, 2006, 5 a.m. - 8 a.m.

5 a.m. I woke up too early. So I went to the blogs. That is an easy way to kill some time and calm the nerves.

530 The marathon valet had done everything right for me. My layer-heavy wardrobe was laid out in perfect donning order: Shorts. West Point Army tech shirt. Socks. Kayanos with MCM ChampionChip attached. Disposable long sleeve cotton T-shirt. Army PT warm up uniform (black ankle-zippered pants and gray jacket with underarm zipper vents and light reflective striping). Breathable cap. Throw away gloves.

Applied body glide where it mattered. Loaded up with Gu in shorts hip pockets, sports beans in shorts waistband pocket, camera in zippered jacket pocket, $10 bill and debit card in other pocket and cell phone in pants pocket. Ready for breakfast.

600. Tiptoe downstairs for early morning breakfast party with my hosts' cat. I go for the toasted bagel and OJ. He goes for something really fish smelling that I stay away from. I study maps. I have two places to be this morning and am worried about how it will all work out. Just how far is Place A from Place B and how long will it take to get there among 30,000 or more people in a place I've never been to?

618. Knock on hosts bedroom door and hear him stir. The 15 minute warning for departure. That's all he asked for and all he needed. I finish eating and take a picture of me and the cat having breakfast together.

635. We're on our way. Gil knows the roads and manages to find a roundabout way to get past closed off roads on the marathon route to get me within 200 yards of the Iwo Jima Memorial.

655. Marines are everywhere sipping coffee, going over their briefing, checking gear, looking very ready for the day. I found it curious how many were officers. Lots of LTs. There was hardly a sergeant or corporal anywhere. I even saw a two star general walking around.

So where is Jeanne and the Charity Village? That is mission #1 for me.

It's downright nippy out. I'm shivering. Is it nerves or the chill? I presume the latter. I find the Autism tent and, voila, Miss Get Me To The Church Way Before It's Time is already there ready to go; or rather wishing she could go.

Here's somebody I've known for a year but only met in person 36 hours before and she's hinting as how the nature call has not happened today. I get the message loud and clear and express genuine concern; because I know the difference between running free with an empty load and wishing you could stop the clock and sit on the throne for however long it takes.

715. I grab a water bottle from the tent and check out the other charity runners getting ready. The T.A.P.S. folks are across the way. They are all running in memory of fallen military men and women. I pause to contemplate my good fortune that son T made it through seven months in Iraq.

Jeanne and I wander off to get a cup of coffee on the premise that caffeine has a motivating effect. She sips. I taste. It's Marines field quality mud and I endorse its chance of success for her.

We notice what Jeanne describes as Marines snipers up in a tall tower. I only saw them using binoculars but I was not going to argue with her on that.

720. We are waiting on Richie and Bex. We call Richie. Can you believe he was still in the hotel? He wouldn't believe us when we told him he had 55 minutes to get his butt to the starting line. Jeanne takes all the credit for his making it to the start on time.

Bex is en route but late. We sit in plastic chairs sedately, soaking up the warm rising sun. I am happy to be here where the crowds are thinner and everybody has a friend.

740. Okay Rich is out. Bex is closer but nowhere in sight. Jeanne has come back from an uneventful trip to the port-a-potties. The snipers haven't shot anybody and lots of folks are starting to head down to the start line. I chat with a few Autism benefit runners.

Why am I still here? I still have Mission #2 to accomplish. I call Michelle to see where she is. Approaching the start. I tell her to find a landmark and I'll call her when I get close so we can find each other. I hang up and cuss to myself because the valet failed to charge the cell phone the night before and I am down to one bar. I may need more juice than I have to connect with Michelle now and my host later, after the race. Air time is precious.

750. I take a picture of me and Jeanne from close range just before I say "it's time to go; Bex be damned." She agrees and we start heading down the hill that will be the Iwo Jima mountain for all of us when we finish the last .2 miles of the marathon.

800. We are approaching the front of the double inflatable Marine Corps arch start line. The noise is building. I need to find Michelle so call to get a fix on her location. Near Ambulance 14 on the west side of the road. Roger that.



It was fun running with Michelle for 14+ miles but, after she said goodbye, I shuffled along feeling fine but tired enough to walk a little. Then at mile 25, going down a highway ramp, my right knee said, "NO more running" no matter how much I tried to start up through the pain.
I thought I had an attainable PR (long after I gave up the fantasy medal rounds of 4:15, 4:20 and 4:30). With three miles to go I had a chance. Then I didn't.
It was a beautiful day to race. The course was good throughout. The crowds were awesome.
Best excitement of the race was seeing Eric W. (from RI) twice on the second half of the race who was there cheering on a girl friend; and seeing Susie and David coming off Hains Point. She gave me a hug and took my picture.
Michelle's husband and dad were awesome. They were everywhere and they were prepared with a full game plan of support for Michelle who I admire immensely for her stamina and success today. Ditto to Richie, Bex and Jeanne. Thanks for the comradery.

I'll get that hour later

I am up already, despite the opportunity to have another hour sleep. I am fighting the nerves. Shouldn't this be just like a 23 mile training run? with 3.2 extra? I was composed for that.

And why does Jeanne want to meet at 7 a.m.? The race starts at 8:40.

I have to find Michelle because she is arriving on her own time at a different place. It's these pre-race meet-ups that get complicated and create the anxiety, maybe.


This time tomorrow ....

It will be done.

Today was a beautiful fall day in the nation's capital. I had my host drive me the first 9 miles of the course so I could judge the hills. He offered to make excuses to all of you that, yes, indeed, I did run the race while I slipped away to avoid the hills of Arlington. The first two miles present a 200 foot elevation gain followed by a 3 degree ascent of Rock Creek. By mile 6.5 I will have used hill climbing muscles heretofore untested to such extreme.

Host Gil dropped me off at the Armory to register. The entry line snaked all outside the building. It took 30 minutes to get in but once inside everything went quickly. Running Chick Michelle was already in the Armory with her Army hubby, retired Marine dad and hubby's commanding officer while in Iraq. Only the CO will run the race. Dad and hubby are the elite support team. M and I were excited to see each other and start synching up for the run tomorrow. we have set a 9:45 mile pace as our gold standard. I may talk her down to 9:55 on the watch timer reminder and establish that as the silver medal pace to beat.

I made a technical shirt purchase. They didn't have any of what I wanted in my size so I asked a staff person to check in the back. There were none but he volunteered that that other guy over there might sell me the shirt off his back. In fact he did. So I now own a Staff issue MCM tech shirt. Oo-rah.

We met up with Rich (Plano, TX) at the Armory and called Bex to make lunch plans. We met at a tapas bar in midtown and enjoyed a late lunch and took a bunch more pictures, none of which I can post because the cable doesn't fit in any ports on the Apple. As Michelle reminded me, I am NOT to erase any picture before saving them somewhere. So I am being very careful.

Now it's time to rest and focus on the morning routine. Dinner with some old college mates is still ahead but I am in for the night. And what more can you ask for when you can have an extra hour sleep before a marathon? Sweet.

The forecast is sunny and 46F (feeling like 40) at the start with winds ranging from 15-20 mph all morning. Temps will peak at 56 (feeling like 51). I think I'll be wearing a cap and gloves. In those conditions I may not toss the long sleeve cover for awhile. We'll see.


Okay. I'm here and, yes, it's raining

Air travel today was a marathon all by itself. I mis-timed my parking and shuttle requirements and missed my 745 flight to Cincinnati that would take me to D.C.. Not overreacting, I worked with a kindly flight agent who scarfed up a seat for me the minute it opened on a booked solid flight to Atlanta, which then routed me to Dulles. I made it to DC just at 500 (four hours late) and crossed the finish line into a comfy chair at the Washington Press Club bar where my good host bought me a beer. Ahhhhh.

By 600 I was at Zola's to meet Bex, Jeanne, Susie, Rick and friends for dinner. Much fun and frolic was had by all. A LOT of pictures were taken but I am on borrowed equipment here and haven't figured out the plug ins so you'll have to go to Bex or Jeanne's site for the glorious photos. At dinner I loaded up on Omega 3 with my salmon entree. Yum.

Plan is to meet up at the Expo tomorrow and have lunch or something. Try not to be too touristy on my feet.

Thanks for the good wishes. I feel ready.


Broken training

Today was the first day I skipped in my training for Sunday's marathon. I had to shuttle Mrs. T and two colleagues to the airport at 6 a.m. and everything since then has prevented a short easy 20 minute jog. I consider that a nothing lost skip.

This will be my last post until after the race unless I am fortunate enough to find a computer somewhere (likely) up in DC.


Firing Up

Jeanne fired me up with her last post about the upcoming MCM race. I am feeling good, strong and healthy. My weight has dipped to about where I want it pre-race (151). I cut out the ice cream other fatty items that sneak into my diet. I hold it to one beer a night, no beef, more fruit and copious amounts of pasta/carbos. [Tangential aside: anybody remember rocket-armed outfielder Bernie Carbo with the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox back in the '70s? Hell of an arm and good power.]

My other principal sidekick, Jason, who did make it to Chicago, PRed in 4:26 or something. Now I have a time to shoot for. He had a good time despite some un-Florida-like conditions (low 40s).

Today was the first cold day in Florida. When I went out at 600 to run for 30 minutes I believed it was in the high 50s but it was actually more like 52. Plus Florida cold is colder than the temperature because of the humidity. It is a wet cold that eats through all clothing. I wore shorts, short sleeve shirt and shoes. It took me almost a mile to warm up and my hands were a bit nipped but, by the time I finished, I was toasty. It was a good sampling of the best DC may offer. Given that, I am confident in my planned race kit; but, as Jeanne recommended, I will pack everything, just in case. I am considering cutting the toes out of some tube socks and pulling them over my forearms until I warm up, then tossing them.

I figured out what the third thing is in my 'Marines' experience. As you may have read previously: (1) was the Marine Corps Band, (2) will be the USMC Marathon and (3) turned out to be Flags of Our Fathers, the movie. Powerful and informative. Nevertheless, I am still backing Army in honor of son T.



Record Heat. No Record Run.

I went downtown for my Sunday morning run to find the streets blocked off. Today is the exotic car show. 250 very expensive and quite a few old one-of-a-kind cars have taken over the avenue. I parked right in front of Starbucks and jogged up to where we usually start and found five others waiting to run.

We moved out as the cars were arriving to be parked, polished and judged. When we came back, they were all in position and sparkling.

In the middling time we went out at a slow pace. I set my timer to repeat every 9:45 in hopes of being at mile markers each time it went off. We did fairly well at that. I will do it again next Sunday in DC at the race to keep on pace.

We are having record heat down here. In the 90s again today and just maybe 72 this morning. I sweated like it was August.

Going slow (9:45-10:00) and only ten miles allowed me to get a sense of the pace I want to try and it left me with legs towards the end of the run. I left the pack with about two miles to go and jacked it up to finish just under 10 minutes per mile. Somehow I lost the 9:45 pace but I do not remember when.

Four on Tuesday and four on Thursday is all I have left. Then north to the chilly and wet forecasted DC area to see Bex, Jeanne, Michelle and Susie, among others.

The President's Own

I took in a concert last night at the high school here in town. You know how life comes at you in clusters of three? Well the band in concert was the United States Marine Band, the one that plays for all the White House and other state functions.
They were wearing some mighty sharp uniforms and played with great skill. The audience got very vocal when they played God Bless America as an encore.
So that is Part I of the Few. The Proud. The Marine Corps Marathon is next Sunday. I wonder whether the Marines will pop up in my life again this week or wait until after the race.


Jeffrey all the way

Mrs. T and I watched breathlessly (me anyway) the last installment of Project Runway. I was "breathless" because I was concerned my boastful prediction that Jeffrey would win could cause me ridicule and embarassment over my presumption to know and appreciate fashion better than Mrs. "Fashion" T.

As I watched the show I was liking what Laura did because it was so ritzy. Uli's stuff was impressive and so wearable. I think we all knew Michael was toast about a month ago. He just lost it.

Jeffrey was definitely going where he'd never been before and it actually looked good to me. After following some of the hyperlink threads Jeanne led me down to read an interview with Laura (on a gay site) I was convinced from what I saw and read that Jeffrey would be the winner. I liked the stripes he put on designs very much.

Meanwhile back at the ranch. We had an incident at a high school on Thursday afternoon that resulted in the tragic death of a teen. The principal of the school is the Dave I occasionally train with. He was at the airport ready to board a plane to run the Chicago Marathon this weekend. He was in the concourse and looked at the TV monitor and saw an aerial shot of his high school on CNN and the unfolding story. He kissed his wife and kids goodbye and headed back to school.

We have both been in crisis control mode ever since. It is over for now but, sadly, so are the lives of two kids (one dead, the other in jail), the peace of two families and the innocence of a lot of students. Not nearly as sad but a true bummer is that Dave won't be running Chicago.

I am still hoping all calms down and nothing flares up between now and Marine Corps to sidetrack me.

I had Sherlene work me over Wednesday afternoon as a final tune up. She said my left ITB was tight.

Yesterday morning I overslept because of Project Runway but still got up and ran 8 miles at a slow pace. It took 1:18. I thought about pushing it but, after a massage, I am usually too loose and not tuned for running. After the events of the last 36 hours, I am plenty tight now. We'll see how my last 10 miler goes this weekend.



I love stats. Which is probably why I love speed workouts. So many repeats to measure and compare!

ITEM 1. The last three speed workouts (one a week) have been 6 x 1200, 7 x 800 and 3 x 1600. Varying distances. Varying aggregate lengths. What's unusual is that my pace on all three has been 7:52/mile.

ITEM 2. Today's 3 x 1600s resulted in my fastest 1600 of the year: 7:44.5 in the second interval - that with a bowl of chewed up Cheerios and fruit bouncing around in my belly.

ITEM 3. Evidence above indicates I am getting faster every week. Today's 1600s were 12 seconds faster on average than my last 1600s. In fact, my last 800s were 6 seconds faster than the time before.

I was annoyed this morning when I didn't have a balanced trio of times. The fastest was nine seconds faster than my slowest. I was also mad I didn't close with my fastest time (I was thinking Flipperhead throughout but couldn't quite get there).

I am feeling as though I am peaking for thise race next week. I have the speed. I am more confident about the distance. I am not so sure about negative splits but that will come down to race strategy.

West Point story. Older son T was in Manhattan this weekend seeing a young lady. Walking along Broadway. Upper west side. Old man walks out of a storefront, loses his balance and falls. Head smashes against a bus shelter wall before it bounces on sidewalk. Before he stopped moving T was in action mode, sprinting to nearest store to call 9-1-1. Asks for telephone. Clerk looks quizzically at him as if he doesn't understand the language. T assesses clerk to be Arab. T says "telephone" in Arabic, the foreign language he chose to study this year. Ahhh! Yes! Emergency responders arrive. Man taken care of. Girl friend duly impressed with hero model who acted on instinct, forged on the battlefield and in military training. Hoo-ah! Go Army. Beat Air Force. Beat Navy.


MCM: 27 miles ahead

Friday was such an accomplishment day. I skipped work. That was a big accomplishment. Then I fixed the sprinkler system that would have cost me $500 if I had bought into what that estimator yahoo told me last Friday. I went to the bank. I bought an external wireless adapter so I could get my laptop back connected to you guys (the internal card went out on me). I changed some lightbulbs. Cleaned the pool. Took the car for a wash. Got all my nagging chores done that I never get to on weekends!

Then around 5 o'clock I went over to Mrs. T's museum office and whisked her off to Park Avenue for a sidewalk cafe cocktail and appetizer while the world whizzed by. That was followed by a stroll looking in shops which resulted in a skirt in a shopping bag that was not for me.

Dinner followed in the college dining hall we spent a lot of time in 35 years ago, although it's a new building now. I can remember strutting on the tables back then in the Mr. Legs competition. I won, of course. I think I have a picture somewhere to prove it too.

For my indulgence on this evening, we took in a soccer game won by the hometown boys in the last 90 seconds on a penalty kick.

Running. So many people I saw Friday night asked how I was doing and how my running was going. Mrs. T was quick to tell them I was running 15 miles Saturday morning which I had not committed to do - in my head. I was thinking more Sunday when I'd see the usual crowd. I had no "date" for Saturday.

When I got up today I thought of Flipperhead racing in Hartford so wistfully imagined I might catch some of her good vibes. I was not really mentally psyched to go but I did anyway. Breakfast was quick. I read Dianna's blog and the WTIC Hartford radio web page. With my cooler packed, I headed out the door. It was about 10 miles later that I realized I forgot to Body Glide my nipples. Ouch.

My goal was to try throttling down my pace, as if it were the first 15 miles of the marathon. After last week, I knew I was going too fast. I was concentrating on keeping my shoulders low and my left arm to be more the leader arm moving forward instead of the one that veered across my chest.

I caught myself dragging rubber too often and picked up my feet more. Then I caught myself running in the yellow zone, above the green (that's tachometer talk right there). The left arm was hitching too high and inwards. I basically examined my mechanics for a good portion of the run. My goal was about 2:30 for the 15 miles.

I pulled in at 2:26 which was faster than everything I have done to this point in long runs which may explain why I am stiff and dragging today. I did not finish in a flurry but I was certain I had some left. It may not have been at a satisfactory pace but I am pretty sure I could have gone 26.2 if necessary.

I realize I am not in peak shape like coach jeff would have me if I was his client but I am in better shape than I had me back in January. This marathon training is like anything else. A little experience can make a world of difference in the training and mental approach.

Next tasks to tackle: enduring the taper, estimating the weather conditions for DC at the end of October, packing right and eating right.


Training is habit forming

The running routine is medicinal or addictive. I haven't decided which. Maybe that's what Runner Susan lacks: the strong addiction.

Tuesday was, as always, a delightful speed work day. I popped out seven 800s at a 10 second per mile pace better than the last time I did 800s; around 3:50 each. After doing the 23 on Sunday I thought I'd be stressed and unable to go. How wrong. I was raring to go.

This morning I only had a measly four miles to run at tempo pace so I just zoomed through that in short order. It was the second fastest tempo pace of the year for me.

I remember in January when I was less than three weeks out from running Miami and I had so many issues. This time around I am just feeling great with no sore spots, health, equipment or life issues.

The Friday night get together with RBF Washington is coming together thanks to Bex. My hosts are cued in and ready to have some fun, even join us for dinner. Another old college acquaintance will come over to see me. Susie and David are coming up from F-burg.

This is going to be fun so long as the Marines don't shoot me for wearing my West Point-Army shirt.


Glad to get that behind me

Thursday was a 5-mile tempo run. I smoked it in a top 3 time.

Today I approached my last long run as if it were race day by wearing the same outfit I'll race in. I blew the breakfast part when I had cereal instead of a bagel with my secret blueberry jam. No matter. I loaded up the cooler with water and Powerade; planting it behind the wall where I usually stash it.

The plan was to run eight miles at 515, solo in the dark , but by the light of a Grove Dock full moon. I ran in reverse direction for the similar leg scheduled at 700. I flew around the town, only seeing two groups out early. My pace turned out to be a too fast 9:15.

Back near home I rehydrated and headed for downtown. I realized I would be too early, given as how I'd gone out too fast, so I put an extra mile on the run, getting me up to 11 before meeting up with the Sunday crowd.

I had never seen so many show up on a Sunday. There were ten of us! I urged them to start up so that I could keep the juices flowing. It did not take long before I was ahead of them all with Tim by my side. He's running NY and had been out two weeks with the flu.. This was his first day back and he was only going 12.

We covered the six miles he needed to finish his 12 at a 9:30 pace. From there on I was on my own. I kept at the Gu and drinks along the route. When I hit 17-18 miles my legs started to tire. My pace downshifted. I had to deal with it mentally as if it were MCM and not Miami. None of my muscles was ripping although I had occasional cramps in my feet. They subsided as I pushed on back downtown. Finally there, I had another 10 in the books.

Could I make it home for another two miles? Well yes but it wasn't pretty. I realized that stopping is a bad idea. When I did, for water late in the run, I figured a way to get back up to running without hurting myself.

The first 20.9 miles was 3:24.22. With the last of it I was home in 3:46.37. Average pace of 9:56. Michelle - I went out too fast. We need to save ourselves for the end. Okay?


Addicted, loose and injury free

Tuesday I woke up before 500 and was ready to run. I am getting addicted to this stuff. I keep waking up early, wanting to run. I had some breakfast - I do not skip those anymore - and jogged up to the track for some 6 x 1200s.
The Marathonfesters were there in full force doing 8-10 x 800s. Many of them are ready to taper for Chicago or are close to peak conditioning for another fall race. The moonless dark scene was full of anxiety, speed, limping, sweating, gossiping and comradery.
They're not my crowd but I know some of them. One fellow who's son runs cross country asked if I wanted to join him with his buddy for some 800s. He said they were pacing at 4:15. I knew he was training for his first marathon with some trepidation so I opted to decline because I was running 1200s. I refrained from telling him I like to do my 800s in 3:50 or less.
Still, he jazzed me up. My first 1200 went down in 5:39. Geez, I had five to go.
They got progressively slower and I averaged 5:53 for the six pack, topping at 6:04.
By the end of the day it was time to go for a massage. I had added this one into my schedule because I was so cramped up and sore two weeks ago. To my credit I stretched it all out and nothing really hurt when Sherlene layed into me. I have to say, though, I was ready. Everything she did was like a Christmas present I always wanted. Every touch made me relax and go "mmmmmmm."
She told me I was in pretty good condition, well hydrated and had only one spot to be concerned about, where the quad connects to the knee on my left side. If I stretch right I'll be right.
Thursday was a 5-miler with a few Florida hills (not much higher than speed bumps). I warmed up slowly, listening to all my joints crack - something that happens to me after a massage. I am too loose. By the end I was cruising. I covered it in less than 44 minutes which I never did late in my training last January.
Back then I was fighting through all kinds of muscle issues and barely winning the training war. I won that one but lost the marathon. I expect better in DC. Hoo-ah.