Some Monday Morning Motivation


While sitting on the train this morning heading to my office, I began to think about how particularly unmotivated I was to get out of bed. I didn’t want to place my feet on the floor, because that would officially break the current illusion running through my head (I was sitting in a category 4 suite on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship, out on the veranda, looking out onto the Caribbean while drinking a glass of Ridge Montebello). So….I resisted the urge to begin my day at 4:45. I’ll give myself 15 minutes. 5am turned into 6am. And just like that, my Monday morning run was just like French & Indian War – history.

So here I am, sitting on a New Jersey Transit train heading to work, feeling a bit blah. Oh sure, the sights and sounds on this train are enough to provide slight amusement – there’s a dude walking around wearing a cape (that’s not a mis-print – he’s actually wearing a CAPE), another guy chowing down on a sausage & peppers hero at 7:30am, and a couple chatting about their raucous Saturday night – out loud – for us all to enjoy (I learned that stiletto heels do not work incredibly well with overly-long bell-bottom jeans…apparently this combination, when mixed with grain alcohol, can result in a trip to the ER at 3:30am). Be that as it may, I sit here feeling…well…blah.

I’m not sure how many of you deal with a lack of motivation on Monday mornings. I hope I am not solo in this experience. So what I’m going to try to do each Monday morning is to send out a very simple blog entry that I’ll refer to as Monday Morning Motivation. I hope it puts a smile on your face…and I also hope that it helps you put your feet on the floor and kick off your week by getting a bit of simple exercise in. I don’t care whether it’s a 5 mile run or a couple of sit ups and push ups. All that matters is the motion – because motion creates emotion.

So I’ll kick off my Monday Morning Motivation with a simple quote from one of my favorite people in the whole wide world: Mary Darcy.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are probably right.”

Pretty simple idea, right? The ability to accomplish anything is a matter of commitment, effort, and the right mindset. I hope today and this week bring you success in whatever you are doing!

…oh yeah. You are probably wondering who Mary Darcy is. Well – she was my grandmother. A 4’10” wiry Irish lass that was sweet as sugar…but took crap from no one. You’ll find that I quote her a lot, because she was a font of useful information. She lived in a time period that included the invention of the automobile to a time where the Hubble Telescope showed us what our Milky Way galaxy looked like. Pretty wild, huh?

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A Father’s Day Run in Central Park


So I made a very unorthodox decision yesterday.  Since I was too sick to run the Lake Placid Marathon last Sunday, and I really want to keep my promise and run one full marathon a month to benefit The Dream Team Project, I decided to run a full marathon by myself early next Sunday morning, June 24th.  There are some pros and cons to this endeavor:

 

Pros:

  • I keep my streak, and my      promise, going
  • I get my long run in for      the week (ha…ha…ha)
  • Since I’m getting my long      run in for the week, and I’m probably going to burn 4,000 calories, I CAN      EAT WHATEVER I WANT WHEN I COME HOME AS A TREAT!  Oh yeah – a double chocolate cookie from      Levain Bakery on 74th and Amsterdam (that, folks, it chocolate      HEAVEN)
  • Running this solo means      that I will need some new gear.  Oh      yeah.  Break out the VISA and      purchase a new hydration pack.  I      just ordered one from Salomon, and it’s gonna make me really look like I      know what I’m going.
  • I’m psyched about playing      the part of a “running tourist”.       During my run I will take pictures from all around town and share      them in this blog and on my other social networking outlets.  Hoping to spin by the Intrepid, the      space shuttle, Ground Zero (I want to pay my respects), The Statue of      Liberty, Battery Park, The Staten Island Ferry, South Street Seaport, The      Brooklyn Bridge, and lots more!
  • Part of my route will take      me along the last 10 miles of November’s ING New York City Marathon      course.

 

Cons:

  • Since I am running solo,      there won’t be any peer pressure to keep moving forward.  As a result, the ability to shut it down      and begin walking at any point is much easier.  I cannot allow that to happen.  I need to give my absolute best.  But – I know me – I lack focus.  This will be a challenge.
  • Another issue stems from      the fact that I’ll need to provide all of my own fluids and fuel.  That means I’m carrying it with me for      26.2.  I am not used to that.  The closest I’ve come to this is when I      ran the marathon in February in sweat pants and a huge sweatshirt.  The bulkiness was hard to deal      with.  I hope I can deal with the      distraction that comes with wearing a hydration pack.
  • There are no mile markers      to use as targets as motivation to keep moving forward.
  • Lots of traffic lights      will make this long run a very slow go.
  • Possible heat and humidity      – oh joy.

 

The way I’m looking at this challenge is that it will be another pure running test.  Me versus myself.  Me against The Tool.  May the best man win.

 

So before I sign off today, I wanted to share something that I noticed whilst running in the park this morning.  The benches all through the park are dedicated to people from friends and family that wanted to memorialize them.  As I came around the lower loop, I usually go really slow and read a few of them – and they never disappoint.  I had to take a picture of the one I have attached to this blog entry.  Louise Buckley.  I have no idea who she was – but she lived to the ripe old age of 93, had 9 children and 30 grandchildren.  Talk about being surrounded by love. Let’s face it: I’m betting she lived a very full and interesting life.  So – here’s to you, Louise.  I know it’s Father’s Day…but every day is Mother’s Day.

 

Yet another reason why, in my opinion, Central Park is a truly special place to run.

 

Well, I have to sign off for now, since my daughter’s dance recital is scheduled to begin in just a couple of hours.  For all of you out there: double knot your shoe laces, throw on some shorts and a t shirt, and enjoy your day.  Sweat a little bit.  Try to log a run today – I don’t care whether it’s a marathon or to your corner and back.  All that matters is the effort.  You don’t get this day back – so make the most of it.

 _____________________________________________________

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

 

 

Brooklyn? Forgetaboutit. The Basics of Running? I Forgot About Those Too…


 

 

After completing two marathons in a week, I needed some rest.  But I had another race to look forward to: The Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 19th.  I took two days off from training before getting back to work, logging miles in the park.

 

After two full marathons in such a short span, I felt like a half marathon would be the proverbial “walk in the park”.  Hindsight being 20-20: boy was I wrong.

 

My running schedule really took more out of me than I estimated.  On top of this, my work schedule was becoming more demanding.  I was burning the candle at both ends, and I knew it.  However, I was not accepting any excuses.  I began logging the miles early in the morning and more hours at work during the long days and evenings.  As May 19th approached, I felt a bit knackered – but still functional.

 

The morning of the Brooklyn Half Marathon arrived with little fanfare.  The race began near The Brooklyn Museum, and by mile one we already had conquered the first hill of the course.  By mile two: two hills in the record books.  Early on in this race, it felt like I was reliving Gettysburg.

 

By mile 4, we had entered Prospect Park and began to scale yet another long, steady incline.  As I made my way up to the crest of the latest and greatest hill, I realized just how important the proper rest was to the training process.  I began making mental notes in my head of all of the mistakes I’ve made over the past 3 weeks.  The list got longer by the time I exited the park and began waddling down Ocean Boulevard.

 

As the latter miles of the race passed by and I made my pace toward Coney Island’s boardwalk and the finish line, the list of mistakes I made became too long to keep straight in my head.  I knew that I needed to head home and basically perform an internal debrief.  So I doubled my efforts, pushed through to the finish, and headed home with a medal around my neck and some serious doubts in my head.  This was a half marathon.  Half of the distance of my prior two races.  My experiences in late April and early May should have made this race feel like a piece of cake.  However, I was ill prepared for the physical and mental lapses that I encountered during my waddle through Brooklyn.  Some of my mistakes were new.  Some were repeat offenders.  So what I figured I’d do is list some of the things that I need to work on so that anyone reading can learn from them.

 

  • During both marathons as      well as the Brooklyn Half, I went out too fast.  ROOKIE MISTAKE that I simply keep making      over and over.  When you go out too      fast, you pay for it later in the race.       I know this.  However, for      some stupid reason, I keep doing this simply because I want to stay with      the pack.  I worry too much about      running the pack’s pace, and not my own.       LESSON LEARNED: The pack doesn’t get you to the finish line – you      get yourself there.  SO – run your      own race.

 

  • Schedule rest days….and      then ACTUALLY REST!  You need to let      your legs heal.  Recover.  Reset for the next workout.  Rest is critical.  I haven’t given myself enough of a      chance to heal, and I’ve been paying for it.  ANOTHER ROOKIE MISTAKE.  I keep thinking that more work will make      me better.  I don’t need to work      harder – I need to work SMARTER.

 

  • I’m carrying more weight      than I need to.  I haven’t been good      enough with my diet, and that needs to change.  My need to work on losing more weight is      probably what causes me to ignore rest days.  I swear – I simply don’t do the basics      well.  AT ALL.

 

  • Water.  I need to drink more water instead of      all of the other crap that I consume.       Another basic concept that’s lost on me.  Why?       Because I’m….well….dense.

 

  • Have a plan.  Have a schedule.  And then STICK TO IT.  I’m baaaaaaad at this.  Some days I ignore the 5 miler that I      need to get done.  Others: I log 12      when the schedule called for 6.       What the heck am I thinking?

 

  • Eat properly before long      runs.  I know – this is basic.  And yet…I get an “F” for this one.  Smores Pop Tarts are NOT the breakfast      of champions.  Oy.

 

The work I had to get done in order to address these issues will take time. Of course it did not help when I got really sick within days of running the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

 

The chest cold I suffered from lasted for well over three full weeks.  I had a very hard time breathing and it resulted in me not being able to run well…or even at all.  By the time the weekend of June 9th and 10th came around, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to participate in my sixth scheduled marathon of the year: Lake Placid. I bit the bullet and resigned myself to focusing on the healing process.  I’m not good at that…at all.

 

So here I am, sitting on my couch after running in the park this morning, trying to figure out how to address the latest and greatest issue on my plate: finding a marathon in the month of June.  I checked www.marathonguide.com, and I slowly began to conclude that there were no local marathons to sign up for, and all of the open marathons for the month would require last-minute purchases of round trip flights and weekend hotel rates.  Oy.

 

Based on these facts, I made the decision to run two marathons in October (Chicago and Hartford) and two in November (NYC and Philly) to make sure that I run 12 official marathons within the year.  This plan covered the concept of running 12 in ’12.  Great.  Wonderful.  But my goal was to run one each calendar month.  I need to keep this promise.  My running schedule states that the New York Road Runners’ Team for Kids has a long run planned for next Saturday, June 23rd.  I really get a thrill out of helping the first time marathoners hit new distances each week – so I don’t want to miss that.  So in order to keep my promise and run one each calendar month, I’ll head out early in the morning on Sunday, June 24th and run 26.2 miles around Manhattan.  As of this moment, I haven’t figured out my running course – but I’ll post it as soon as I finalize it.

 

I’ll admit – this does get me nervous.  I look at myself and I don’t see someone with the discipline and focus to pull this off without some peer pressure surrounding me.  Usually, just when I feel like throwing in the towel, I notice other runners around me – or fans along the sidewalks – or another mile marker just within striking distance – that keeps me going.  Running 26.2 solo, however: I won’t have any of these things.  So before pressing the “publish” button on this blog entry, I really weighed my decision: don’t attempt this on the 24th, be happy with 2 marathons in October and the two in November – but miss out on the factor of running one each calendar month, OR…get over my nervousness, press the “publish” button on this blog entry, and commit to getting 26.2 done.

 

Deciding factor: I made a promise to myself, and to a charity that I really believe in – The Dream Team Project.  To me – promises are huge.  I teach my daughter that keeping your word is something that is key to success in life.  Well I talk the talk…now it’s time to waddle the waddle.

 

 

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

 

Race #5: The New Jersey Marathon, PART 2


The first half of the New Jersey Marathon began with a crisp pace and a sound feeling of confidence, as I mentioned in my prior blog entry.  This aura of confidence, however, began to weaken as the half marathon point arrived. 

 

As I crossed the mile 14 marker, I began to feel the energy oozing from my legs.  It felt as if the car I was driving sprung a rather substantial leak in the gas tank, and there I was behind the wheel watching the fuel gauge go from full to empty.  I’m no physiological mechanic; I don’t have the know-how to repair the leak in my fuel storage.  As the driver of this damaged vehicle, all I could do was cross my fingers and hope that I had enough unleaded in the well to get me to my destination.

 

When the realization hit me between miles 14 and 15 that the fuel was running out fast, I really went into full Watch Warrior mode.  I began the inward Mental Math: current pace per mile, number of miles left, the possible need to mix in running and walking toward the end, the cramping I was beginning to suffer in my calves, and the one variable that always comes into play during any 26.2 mile race I run: The Tool Factor. 

 

I began inwardly talking to myself, attempting to figure out what pace I needed to maintain in order to finish in 5 hours….or 5:15….or 5:20….

 

Me (spoken inwardly – I think): “I’m between miles 16 and 17 right now.  Three hours and five minutes down.  OK – let’s get to mile 20 by 3:50.  So I need to maintain a pace of…”

 

The Tool (never missing an opportunity to make a difficult situation even more unmanageable):  “….HEY!  What the heck are you doing?  Seriously – you’re attempting math while you’re running?  HA…HA…HA…”

 

(That laugh.  That horrible, shrieking laugh that courses up my spine and turns a grin into a frown.  That tiny 4-inch Tool sounded like a cross between Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear and the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.  Just like nails on a chalkboard, the sarcastic laughter echoed in my head.  It made the math feel like Calculus.) 

Me: “…so hit mile 20 by 3:50 gives me 70 minutes for the final….”

 

As I continued to attempt to work out the numbers in my head, The Tool decided to begin singing show tunes, just to screw with my focus…

 

The Tool:  “When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day….”

 

Me: “…..mile 20….gives me….an hour to get the last 10k done?  Wait….no….”

 

The Tool (the singing only getting louder and more annoying in my ears): “How do ya solve a problem like Maria!”

 

Me: “…wait. I got this.  I can hold an 11 minute pace.  What am I running at now?”

 

The Tool: “DEAR OFFICER CRUPKEY…CRUP YOU!”

 

Who would have ever thought that the lyrics from West Side Story would EVER come into play during a marathon?  Well..they did.  And The Tool was able to turn Tony Award-winning music into the equivalent of mental waterboarding.  The Tool had broken me with the most unexpected tactic: the music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Steven Sondheim.  Unreal.  As much as I hated the little 4-inch schmuck – I had to give him credit for creativity.  By mile 18, I was broken.

 

Broken.  It’s a horrible-sounding word, isn’t it?  I’ve heard the term in running a few times – just enough to fear it.  Let me describe what the feeling of being broken is like. 

 

Picture yourself running a marathon.  It’s a perfect day weather-wise.  You’ve trained well, so your legs are ready.  You know the pace per mile that you are comfortable with.  You’ve properly fueled and you’re well hydrated.  All systems are go.  The gun sounds.  Off you go.  Alongside you are a couple of people that seem to have the same pace as you.  You don’t feel like running alone, so you link up with them and begin chatting as you log your miles.  By mile 10 you realize “WOW!  I’m 6 minutes ahead of my schedule!  AWESOME!”  Now you’re half way home, and you realize again “WOW!  I just PR’d the half marathon by 9 full minutes!”  Life is goooood, right?  Well…MAYBE.  Now you’re 16 miles into the race, when you realize that your breathing is becoming a bit more difficult to keep under control.  The breaths are coming harder and faster than you’d like.  And your legs.  Hmmm.  They are beginning to feel a little squishy.  (That’s a term I just made up.  Yes.  Squishy legs – meaning the juice that you had in your legs at the beginning of this endeavor have been drained by the faster-than-planned pace that you pushed for the past 2-3 hours).  Now your body sends the messages to your brain:

 

Lungs: “Hey – this was easier in training runs.  Why the heck is it so difficult today?”

 

Legs: “Lactic acid sucks.  That’s just an FYI.”

 

Shoulders: “I’ve been swinging these arms back and forth for the past 3 hours.  When the heck is my coffee break?”

 

Your brain hears all these messages coming in, loud and clear.  All it wants to do is shut all these complaining body parts up.  The brain is like a librarian – all he wants is QUIET.  So what does the brain do?  He starts contemplating the possible ways to get what he wants: SILENCE.  This is where the first phase of the marathon mind game comes into play: the negative thoughts cascade through the runner’s head in order to make the pain – the noise – stop.

 

“Look – at that tree over there, begin walking.”

 

“This hurts.  You should have begun walking at that tree back there.  Now – see that manhole cover?  That’s where you’ll stop running.”

 

“Look.  You got to listen to me.  I’m your brain.  STOP RUNNING OR ELSE.”

 

You fight off these negative messages and press on, knowing that you are pushing limits that you never confronted before.  The messages get stronger.

 

“Look – you have to go to work tomorrow. Ease up.”

 

“There will be other Sundays.  Shut it down.  Now.”

 

…and then, there is that moment that the brain tosses out that one reasonable-sounding suggestion which, when combined with the pain you currently are experiencing, sounds too good to ignore:

 

“OK – just walk for a minute. Catch your breath.  Slow down.  Gather yourself.  Right…..now.”

 

And you listen.  You stop running at your current pace and begin to walk – just for a moment.  You don’t realize it yet – but you are now broken.  And it’s an incredibly difficult thing to recover from being broken.  At that moment, you made the race much more difficult for yourself.

 

Once you’re broken, the ability to recover and keep fighting against the road becomes the only challenge that matters.  The importance of obtaining a personal record loses its luster.  I know.  That’s what always happens to me.  And here – in New Jersey – it happened once more.

 

I struggled through the next 3-4 miles, hitting mile 21 at approximately four hours and a couple of minutes.  At this point in the race, I was running on vapors.  And then….in front of me…like a mirage…

 

There he was. 

 

Elvis.

 

As a mater of fact – 2 Elvii. 

 

 Dressed in white jump suits and rocking the huge Vegas glasses, two identical Elvii appeared in front of me.  I thought I was hallucinating.  So I did the only reasonable thing when faced with this sort of thing….

 

Me: “Long live the King!!!!”

 

Elvii (in unison): “…The King loves ya baby!”

 

You ever see one of those movies where the hero sweeps in at the last moment to save the day and foil the villain’s evil plans?  Well that’s the only way I can properly describe this moment.  The Tool suddenly disappeared from my shoulder and the pain that I felt in my legs took a back seat to this scene.

 

I spent the final 5-6 miles in a slow yet incredibly fun waddle with the King(s).  Every car that went by honked.  Every spectator cheered for the Elvii – and the energy was just the magic elixir I required.  The three of us laughed constantly as the final miles went by.  I have absolutely no idea what my time was – and I really didn’t care.  The pain was forgotten.  Running the last 5 miles with two Elvis impersonators was absolutely hysterical.  I crossed the finish line with them, wished them well and thanked them for a race that I won’t soon forget.

 

My mom and my daughter were waiting for me at the finish line.  I placed the medal around my daughter’s neck, and told her just how much I loved her, and how proud I was of her.  Then I reminded her of one important thing: there is no challenge you cannot overcome.  Sometimes it just takes sheer will.  Sometimes it takes tons of preparation and dedication.  But you have everything you need within you to conquer any challenge you face, as long as you do not surrender to your fears.  All it takes is all you’ve got.

 

There is nothing sweeter in this world than getting a spontaneous hug from your kid.  It’s like taking a shot of pure adrenaline. 

 

During the ride home, I thought about the day.  I started strong.  I felt great.  I lost my momentum and appeared to burn out early.  I fought the road for as long as I could before I broke.  Even though the course broke me, I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  And then: The Elvii.  I may not have been fast today – but I fought hard, and The Tool lost this round.

 

Two marathons in a week.  I was fried.  I was elated.  I felt beaten up, yet stronger than ever. Five down.  Just seven more to go.  Almost half way there.

____________________________________

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

 

Race Number 5: The 2012 New Jersey Marathon – PART 1


The morning of my 5th race for my “12 in ‘12” project arrived with….well…absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. It was refreshing not to have to really travel for this race as I have all year long. I got changed, packed my bag for the day, and headed out the apartment door before 4am in order to catch mass transit to Penn Station, where a FREE New Jersey Transit train to the starting line awaited for a prompt 5am departure. It’s direct destination: Monmouth Park racetrack in southern New Jersey.

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The weather appeared to be absolutely perfect for a marathon, although the high temperature for the day would cross the 80 degree barrier. The train ride was relaxing and it allowed me to collect my thoughts for the day. I find that locating some time to close my eyes and visualize a successful run on Marathon Morning really works wonders to both relax my pre-race jitters and sets me forth upon the course with some much-needed confidence.

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As the train gently rocked back and forth like a fishing boat docked in a comfortable slip, I went through my mental preparation for the race. I closed my eyes and tried to picture the flat course, the quiet streets, and a steady pace. I took deep breaths as the course displayed itself in front of me within my mind. The mile markers flew by me, one after another as if they were lined up with only 100’s of feet between them instead of a firm mile. For some reason, I felt at ease with this race. As I opened my eyes, I felt truly calm. The positive visualization really worked this time around. Now all I needed was my theme music for the race – today’s selection was Ode to Joy. I played the piece in its entirety several times on my Iphone,This allowed the notes to become engrained in my head so that, when I needed something to call upon to either drive away the negative thoughts that were bound to flood my dense cranium thanks to the heartless work of The Tool, the work of Beethoven would drown his tiny squeaky voice out.

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As I strode from the train to the starting area, I ran into one of my Team for Kids coaches, Coach Vinny. First some effective positive visualization, add to it a heaping dose of Beethoven, and top it off with a coach that I consider to be one of the most positive-thinking guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. This was shaping up to be an excellent day. Coach Vinny and I chatted about running in general, this race, our upcoming goals – simple subjects to pass the time and maintain the positive aura that was really taking hold of the morning. Before we knew it, it was time to toe the line and get moving. Coach Vinny is an accomplished marathoner who’s run 26.2 in less than 3 ½ hours…and he’s constantly getting faster. In short: a good running role model to have. While he headed the to “A” corral – the corral for the competitive runners – I headed to Corral D – the one which housed all those who would not be threatening the current world marathon record of 2:03:02 this Sunday morning. We shook hands, wished each other good luck, and headed to our respective corners to start our slugfest against the asphalt.

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Once the gun went off, that positive air that I spent the morning cultivating carried me through the half way point of the race. I spent the first half of the marathon enjoying the sights of southern New Jersey, chatting with fellow runners who waddled along at the same pace as I was. As the mile markers continued to pass by, 7…8…9…my confidence grew. For the first time this year, I controlled my excitement and did not go out too fast early on in the race. I hit the half way point of the race at the 2 hour 20 minute mark. Right on schedule. All I needed to do was stay steady, and a personal best could well be mine.

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My first mistake was made as I passed the half way point of the race: I began doing Mental Math. And The Tool is an “A” student when it comes to the course of Mental Math.

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Every runner is different. Some live or die by their Garmin, Nike +, or Timex GPS watch. I think of this type of runner as a Watch Warrior. They constantly monitor their pace throughout the race by continuously glancing at their current pace per mile, their overall pace per mile, and their elapsed time. The clock is the motivating factor for this type of runner. They know what pace they need to maintain in order to exceed their goals. For these runners, keeping their pace at or below a certain set time per mile is like a person treading water in the middle of the Atlantic; keep your arms and legs moving at a certain rate and you keep your head above water. Slow down…and drown. The constant calculations between the statistics oozing out of the runner’s watch whilst running a marathon and comparing it to his/her goal time for the race is what I mean by Mental Math. It takes a tenacious runner to be a master mental mathematician.

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Other runners can simply feel their pace per mile. No satellite assistance required. Simply double knot your shoe laces and take off down the road. Mental Math was never their major. They never even took the class as an elective. I refer to these runners as Gazelles. They simply react to the moment. They feel like they need to pick up their pace – so they do. The clock doesn’t dictate their actions. There appears to be a simple freedom that comes with being able to run like a Gazelle. Don’t think – just run and let the clock take care of itself.

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Watch Warriors. Gazelles. All that matters is that the runner breaks the tape. Finish.

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As I hit the half way point of the race, I found myself attending Mental Math 101…and my professor was none other than The Tool. The second half of this race just became vastly more complex.

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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!

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…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

Hurdle Week


Normally, after running a marathon, I give myself 3 straight rest days before beginning to run again.  However, the New Jersey Marathon was only a week away, and I wanted to shake my legs out well before race day.  So I gave myself two days off before heading out on a light run early Wednesday morning.  The legs felt extremely stiff.  And I knew why: I simply don’t stretch well enough.

 

I keep saying to myself that I’ll focus more on taking the time each day to stretch out well before and after logging some miles.  Life, however, seems to always get in the way.

 

As the week progressed, I wondered how I would fare on Sunday.  I had only tried this once before: in 2009, I ran the Marine Corps. Marathon one week before running the ING New York City Marathon.  These two races, combined with a finish in mid-October in Hartford earned me entry into the Marathon Maniacs.  I don’t recall how I felt during those six days between races three years ago – but the discomfort was not unbearable…and that bode well.  One negative which was sure to show it’s face: I was sure to have lost some of the “pop” in my legs from one week to the next.  I was certain that the hills of Gettysburg took more out of me than I’d care to admit.  I needed to find some sort of catalyst to focus on to get me through next Sunday.

 

When I came up with my calendar of marathons for 2012, I circled this week as one of the two major “hurdles” of my year.  My thinking was that if I could get through this week and break the tape in New Jersey, things would be fairly smooth through the end of September.  Then…the real run begins.

 

After New Jersey, I plan to enjoy a month of training before the next 26.2 mile jaunt: Lake Placid.  Then off I go to San Francisco in late July.  Followed by a very interesting race in Rye, New York in August. September’s marathon will be in Ohio (remind me to wear my Michigan Wolverines football jersey (an old jersey with Elvis Grbac’s number on it…simply because anyone named Elvis is simply COOL).  Then, there will be two weeks of preparation before what I am nicknaming The 90-Day Odyssey” begins:

  • Late September: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 miler
  • Early October: The Chicago Marathon
  • Mid October: The Hartford Marathon
  • The First Sunday in November: The ING New York City Marathon
  • Mid November: The Wine & Dine Half Marathon
  • Around Thanksgiving: The Philadelphia Marathon
  • …and then…possibly….Vegas.  Oh yeah.  Vegas.

 

The 90-Day Odyssey. Should be interesting.  But – for now – I need to stay focused on the next step, which was coming up on Sunday.  The New Jersey Marathon.  Race number 5 of the 12 in ’12.  Right now, I felt positive.  I can do this.  But I recall a marathon that I ran a couple of years ago…I felt fantastic still at mile 14.  Someone noticed that I was smiling as a plodded forward, and asked me out of the blue….

 

Wise Old Runner: “hey – you look happy…”

 

My response: “Absolutely!!!”  (I had way too much enthusiasm in my voice – I’m sure I was obnoxious.

 

Wise Old Runner: “oh yeah?  You’re feeling good right now? I mean – reeeeeally good?”

 

My response: “Hell yeah!  Best I’ve ever felt 14 miles in!!!”  (still waaaay too much enthusiasm for the moment.  I know it.  He should have kneecapped me).

 

Wise Old Runner: “Hmmmm…..well don’t worry…..that won’t last.”

 

OUCH.

 

…..but….he was right.  I folded like a cheap lawn chair (no idea where I heard that saying, but I was dying to insert it into a blog…so there you go.  Enjoy) 4 miles later.  Crash.  Right into The Wall.  Face first.  He sure was a wise old runner.  I counted my chickens before they were hatched during that marathon (Oh God – that was a horrid reference.  Sorry.  But I’m not deleting it.  Call is a monument to my lack of creativity).  I won’t make that mistake this time around.  I cannot look forward.  I must look only to tomorrow.  And tomorrow starts in just a couple of hours. 

____________________________________________________________ 

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

Race Number 4: The 2012 Gettysburg Marathon


The three and a half hour drive from Manhattan to Gettysburg was rewarded with a wonderful town and the view of the famous battlefield that represents a key four-day span in history of this country.  Driving around the battlefield, one can almost feel the horrors that spread across the green grass.  You can picture the bravery of northern and southern men, fighting amongst 50 caliber musket fire and cannons reigning hell all about them.  It must have taken an immeasurable amount of courage to charge the field – a heck of a lot more than I have stored up, that’s for sure.  The brief tour of the battlefield was….moving.  It sent chills up my spine.

The evening before the marathon, I got to enjoy a wonderful meal with two friends and fellow WDW Radio Running Teammates in a historic restaurant a stone’s throw from the very spot where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.  There was a tavern in the basement with an old wooden bar that harkened back to colonial days.  On the main floor the dining rooms were filled with families enjoying hearty meals and great drinks.  There was even a bard, strolling around the building singing songs from days long gone.  It was a fantastic Saturday evening.  I retuned the my hotel just outside of town that evening still feeling a bit nervous – but with a more sound perspective: running 26.2 miles on a gorgeous April morning is nothing compared to the courage it took to storm that battlefield. 

When I awoke in the morning, I felt well rested and as prepared as I would ever be for this race.  A shuttle bus took myself and a merry band of fellow runners to the starting area: a local elementary school.  A chill in the air made us all crave the sunlight at 7am, and we stood around waiting for the time to toe the starting line.  I had been nervous about running such a small race, because I knew that there would be nowhere to hide my slow, plodding pace.  As I chatted up my fellow marathoners, some of which were Marathon Maniacs like myself, that nervousness began to slowly fade.  It was replaced by resolve.

We slowly made our way down the block from the school shortly before the scheduled start of the race.  The starting line was a line simply drawn in the middle of a street.  There was no fanfare.  No huge contingent of fans.  No press.  Two races in a row with such humble beginnings…..I loved it.  It felt…pure.  Before we knew it, a soft horn blew, and off we went.

About a quarter of a mile into the race I had, what I like to internally refer to as a “brainfart”.  Have you ever locked your home’s front door, hopped in the car, gotten half way to your destination and then, all of a sudden, realize that you’ve forgotten the one item you needed to make the trip worthwhile back on your coffee table?  Well then congratulations, you’ve experienced a brainfart.  So what, pray tell, was my brainfart this lovely, sunny, warm, bright, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky, beach-weather morning?  My mind went over my race day checklist:

  • GUs?  CHECK.
  • Fully-charged GPS watch?  CHECK.
  • BodyGlide (dear, sweet, wonderful BodyGlide)?  CHECK
  • Pre-race Pot-O-Crapper usage?  CHECK….and CHECK.
  • Properly hydrated?  CHECK.
  • Sun block?  …………

Let me say that last one again:

  • Sun block?…………

I couldn’t have been THAT big of a doorknob.  No way. 

(FYI – I do, on occasion, refer to myself as a doorknob when I do something utterly asinine.  Why?  Because it’s a fun little term and it properly represents an object that I have as much intellect as at times)

…..crap.  I …..am….a….doorknob.

The sudden realization that I had forgotten sun block on a gorgeous morning where I would spend upwards of five hours in the bright sunlight was like arriving at a water stop at mile 21, reaching out for a cup of cold water, and somebody unsuspectingly handing me a cup of piping hot green tea. 

Brainfarts suck.

I also realized that brainfarts are rather amusing to The Tool, since at the very moment I came to the realization that by the end of the race I would look like a distorted slab of bacon, he appeared on my shoulder with a smug look on his face.  The war of internal words began early.

Tool: “Morning.  What a gorgeous day.  So – no hat and no sun block?  This is like going to work in the morning and finding out that the boss took care of everything for ya.  I think I’ll go grab a cosmo, sink my mitts into a big ol’ bag of pork rinds, get comfortable and enjoy your stupidity.  Thanks in advance for the show.”

Me: “……”

(I had no witty comeback.  I felt like this was over before it ever started.)

Within a half a mile of the starting line, the first hill presented itself.  I steadily cruised over it, knowing that each of these inclines will take a toll, and that toll will be seen in about 3 hours.

The first half of the marathon was spent either climbing up or flowing down hills.  Apparently, there is not 2 straight miles of level ground in western Pennsylvania.  For if there was, I would have paid a million Turkish Lira to see it.  By the half way point, I had already begun to feel the effects of the sun and the hills.  I was fried.  Order of Joe, well done, with a side of GU.  The highlights for me was seeing my WDW Radio Running Teammates at several points early on.  That gave me a sorely-needed energy boost.  (A HUGE SHOUT-OUT TO STEVE AND VALERIE DREW!!!!) 

Fortunately the hills dissipated by mile 15-16 I think.  Maybe it was mile 14.  Not quite sure when they ended, because the second half of the race was spent simply trying to maintain forward momentum.  I was alone at times, just as I feared.  The experience of being out there, on a quiet country road, 16 miles into a marathon without a bunch of fans providing the peer pressure I required to keep waddling on was really difficult to adjust to. 

It was around mile 17 that I realized how pure of an event this was.  500 marathoners.  Quiet country roads.  Hills.  Sun.  Just the right amount of volunteer support to keep you going.  Just the runner and the road.  Either you finish or you quit.  No one around to throw you a lifeline or bail you out.  You signed up for this – now you take care of business.  I may have been cooked by the sun and drained by the hills, but I hadn’t quit.  And boy did that ever piss The Tool off.

The Tool: “Nine miles left.  Why don’t you shut this one down.  You bit off more than you could chew, you schmuck.”

Me: (suddenly growing a big and brassy pair of wontons) “Oh shut up.  Nine miles is less than I had to go ten minutes ago.  Let’s get this over with and head home.”

The Tool: “Wow…you’re remarkably masculine today.  What a change from the usual whiny wiseass I’m used to.  FYI: you’re still screwed.”

Me: “I might not be the fastest boat in the water, but no one’s gonna paddle harder than me.”

The Tool: “Oh please.  Who do you think you are? Henry Wadsworth Dumbfellow?  You know what – I’m leaving you to fail on your own.  I need a Tylonol with a Absynthe chaser just to wash away the stupidity flying around your dense cranium.  Later sucker.”

The last nine miles was spent willing myself to keep moving forward.  I ran as much as I could – but I needed walk breaks.  As the miles added up and mile markers 22….23…24 went by, I allowed myself to experience the roller coaster ride of emotions that marathoners go through.  I can honestly say this: I run 26.2 just to take that roller coaster ride.  I cannot describe it.  I apologize for lacking the creativity to paint the literal picture of these feelings.  However, I believe it was Ken Doherty that once said that “…to describe the agony of a marathon to one who’s never run it is like trying to describe color to someone born blind”. 

There’s something about that last 10 kilometers.  Pain.  Loss of focus.  You feel like you are going to break.  And then – somehow – you manage to hold it all together and soldier on.  You break the tape realizing that you willed yourself to finish.  The body alone could not have gotten you to this point.  Running a marathon is all about the journey.  And what a journey this 26.2 was in Gettysburg. 

I finished feeling sore, exhausted and relieved.  And in dire need of aloe.

The long ride home was spent contemplating the day.  My mistakes – SUN BLOCK!  My need to focus on my endurance.  Drop weight.  Focus more on my diet during the week – consider proper eating an additional daily workout.  Train harder.  I need the work. 

Four down.  Eight to go.  I need to train harder…just not this week….for my next 26.2 was scheduled for next Sunday, May 6th in New Jersey. 

____________________________

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

April Showers Bring…..A Bout With Chaos Theory


I returned home on the bus from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Manhattan’s Upper West Side sore and dealing with mixed emotions.  My pace during the Ocean Drive Marathon was exactly what I wanted.  I didn’t take the first five kilometers too fast.  I focused on my breathing and controlling the swinging motion of my arms.  My legs felt fresh.  I had prepared as well as I could.  The course was flat – although the head wind was going to add a few minutes to my time, I felt supremely confident as I toed the starting line.

But, as in any sport: one odd bounce of the ball – one errant swing of the bat – a shot that sails just over the crossbar – or, in my case, one instance of taking in fuel a third of the way into the race resulting in a lost tooth – adjusted the course of the outcome.  It was a firm case of Marathon Running meets Chaos Theory.

Now before you actually begin thinking that I understand higher mathematics, let me clarify: everything I ever knew about Chaos Theory I learned from watching Jurassic Park.  I….am…not…kidding.  Jeff Goldblum explains it perfectly: two drops of water placed on the exact same spot on a person’s hand resulted in different outcomes: each drop of water moved in a different direction.  Why?  Could have been the small hairs on the hand.  Or the person’s pores.  Or the wind.  Or simple gravity.  Who knows.  Bottom line: even when you think a result is rather predicable due to your understanding of most of the important variables built in to its calculation, there is always something within the equation which cannot be controlled or accounted for which effects the outcome.

For me: losing a tooth at mile nine.  THAT was Chaos Theory at its best. There was no message sent to me in the days prior from my mouth to my brain, saying the following:

Mouth: “OK folks – we’ve got an issue.  Loose crown.  Right side of your jaw.  Fix it before race day, or else you’re liable to swallow the darn thing.”

Brain: “Understood – thanks for the head’s up.  Now where the hell did I leave the Crazy Glue?”

In the days that followed Ocean Drive, I went on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Up and down.  High and low.  I kept thinking about the fact that, even after feeling so confident and ready for 26.2 miles of running – something as freak as losing a tooth could disrupt my focus on the matter at hand.  The inability to fuel during the race caused me to crash before mile 19.  The last 12 kilometers went by in a dull haze.  The Tool perched himself on my shoulder with a tiny bag of popcorn and a crap-eating grin on his weathered face, enjoying my misery.  To the victor went the spoils.

The emotional roller coaster ride lasted through the third week in April.  Not good.  Not good at all.  The timing of this distraction was incredibly poor as well, for on April 29th I would run the race that I had circled on my calendar as the one I was most nervous about: Gettysburg.  In order for me to build momentum for the remainder of the year, I needed to bounce back from this doldrums I had fallen into.  Quickly.  The Tool had sensed his opening and was really making the most of it, playing on my confidence like Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello.  He made the most of this opportunity.  He was, indeed, winning.

Gettysburg was a marathon that I both looked forward to as well as feared.  The smallest field of runners that I planned to run with all year long: 500 marathoners.  The most hills of any race I have ever encountered: 16 miles of them, beginning within a half of a mile from the starting line.  Very few spectators: this provides The Tool with a valuable edge later in the race – his constant message of pain and discouragement comes through clearly without the strong noise of spectators to drown him out.  Water stations every 3 miles instead of every 1-2 miles.  And lastly: the weather reports predicted crystal clear skies and 75-80 degrees – without shade, this last factor could make the day go from bad to worse in an awful hurry.  In a field of just 500 marathoners, there was no pack to hide within.  No pack to draw energy from.  I would be alone at some point, and would need to look within to get myself to the finish.  Gettysburg would be a pure test….but I didn’t feel like I was ready for such a challenge.

The Friday before Gettysburg, I sat in my firm’s New York City office right near Times Square.  I looked west from a high office window, and stared at the New Year’s Ball that sits perched atop the southernmost point of the square.  Then I looked down at all of the people, scurrying around like ants.  Things look much different 40 stories above the ground than they do whilst standing on the corner of 42nd and Broadway.  At that moment, it hit me: success is all about perspective.

I spent more than three weeks contemplating the things that I needed to address or think about before Gettysburg.  I racked my brain in a vain effort to mitigate the possibility of Chaos Theory coming into play once more.  But this entire time I was looking at my last marathon experience from ground level.  Taking a different perspective: I had finished a marathon running constantly into a headwind, losing a tooth and finishing without fueling during the race.  If I could do that – why couldn’t I handle hills?  Why couldn’t I handle running 26.2 miles in basic solitude?  From 40 stories up, life appeared a bit clearer.

From now on, I’m going to stop asking myself “Why?” and begin saying to myself “Why not?”  Success in completing a marathon is one part physical and one part mental.  And both the physical and the mental need constant training.  The physical gets you through the first 20 miles.  The mental gets you home.

As I packed my bag for Gettysburg, I felt my nerves tingle.  16 miles of hills.  Nervous.  Excited.  Focused.  And now mentally ready.  The fields of Gettysburg would witness another battle: myself versus The Tool.  And there was no way he was going to win the day.

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Number 3 of my 12 in ’12: The 2012 Ocean Drive Marathon


The morning of March 27th began under cloudy skies and a wind just brisk enough to run a chill down your spine. I took my sweet time waking up, showering and changing into my racing clothes, since my hotel was right around the corner from the starting line. I felt less pressure than in prior races. I ate well. I slept well. I was relaxed and feeling…well…confident. There was no nervous tension turning my stomach as I grabbed my overnight bag and closed the hotel room door behind me. Somehow, the specter of the prior night’s dinner was a distant memory as I exited the hotel and took in the crisp, damp air.

The walk to the starting area was a simple 2-block excursion. I realized that the overcast skies and the damp air could make the run feel unseasonably cold for a bit – but after a few miles the warmth of my exertion should chase the chill away and result in a fantastic effort. As I stood around the starting area after dropping off my luggage at bag check, good omens began to present themselves. First I saw one of my Team for Kids coaches – Coach Glen. Glen is a fantastic runner with an easy stride and a phenomenal work ethic. We briefly chatted before he headed toward the starting line – it was good to see a friendly face.

Then, more great omens arrived: fellow Marathon Maniacs from all over the place converged on the starting area. The mustard-yellow jerseys were easy to identify from a distance, and they seemed to draw teammates together with the simple thought that there is an inner strength in numbers. Two of my fellow Maniacs walked with me to the starting line just minutes before the gun went off. The starting line was a spray-painted orange line on the asphalt. To our right, the sound of the waves hitting the beach. A trumpeter played the Star Spangled Banner. The horn then sounded, and off we went. This was my kind of race. No fancy starting line. No fanfare. No huge throngs of fans. No TV. Just 26.2 miles of road, and a bunch of runners to share it with. There was something quite pure about this race.

The pace was a bit quicker than I had liked – about a 9:20 pace for the first couple of miles. Rookie mistake, and quite improper given the fact that no one ever wins a marathon in the first mile….but professionals know that a marathon can indeed be LOST right from the start. About five kilometers into the race, my two Maniac teammates and I backed off the throttle a bit and began to settle in to a nice, flowing rhythm. We chatted about our goals (which, to some, might sound a bit…extreme), such as running a marathon in all 50 states, earning more Marathon Maniac “stars” (more “stars” are earned by Maniacs that execute more….shall we say…..aggressive….marathon schedules), running ultras (any race over the marathon distance), and other rather interesting ideas. (note to reader: I had one extremely INSANE idea to raise money for the Dream Team – but let’s get through this year’s marathon of marathons first). (….in case you didn’t notice, that’s what we aspiring authors call a “teaser”. LOL).

The first 6…7…8 miles were going by smooth as silk. But this is me we are talking about. Nothing ever stays this way.

At around mile nine, I was still breathing smoothly and my legs felt like they had a lot of juice in them. All systems were still go. The course hugged the coastline and took us through one small town after another. There was a headwind that made the race a bit more difficult than optimal – but still quite enjoyable. I truly felt like this was the race that I was going to blast through the 5 hour barrier and grab a 4:45 finishing time.

A third of the way through the course, The Tool was nowhere in sight. The three of us decided to use our gels / energy shots at this point. As I was not a big fan of the taste of GUs, my energy source was a more solid, jelly-like substance cut into gooey cubes. They were squishy and reminded me of my childhood adoration of gummy bears. (Oh please – how can ANYONE dislike gummy bears). I popped one of these gummy cubes into my mouth, bit down and……

Crack.

I chipped a tooth.

There must have been something solid in it, as this was NOT a scenario I ever prepared for whilst running through my marathon gameplan. I quickly moved the gummy cube to the right side of my jaw, and…..

Oh no.

It stuck to the crown of my lower molar.

I tried to extract it…… And the crown came out with it.

Now I a small chip in one tooth and a large hole on the other side of my mouth. And in my hand: the crown that belonged in the rear of my jaw. So I did what any marathoner would do at this point: I stuck the crown in my pocket and just kept on going.

The extremely odd circumstances at mile nine became an utter distraction, as it completely took my mind off of what I was doing. Dumb thoughts kept racing through my brain, such as:

• I have to see my dentist now. This sucks.

• Well, I won’t be able to take in any fuel for the remainder of the race. This sucks.

• How the hell am I going to handle miles 20 – finish without fuel? This sucks.

• Belmont doesn’t open until Memorial Day, and I really felt like betting on the horses. This sucks.

• (see….I am odd)

The distraction disrupted my running chi. I began to lose my focus. Although I hit the halfway point at 2 hours and 15 minutes, my breathing got away from me. Then my arm swing faltered. Then, by mile 17, I began running out of fuel. I would have to fight just to finish. The wheels had come off.

The next few miles went by in a very slow, deliberate haze. Although I felt very little pain from the miles of effort, I simply had nothing left in my tank. You can have a fantastic car – state of the art – but it’s not going to budge without some Chateau Exxon 2012. I waddled to the finish line, just simply thrilled to earn my third marathon finish of the year. No personal record today – but one heck of a story to tell.

In three months, I had run three marathons. One in 25 degree temperatures. I lost a tooth in another. That’s….well….unique. The Tool rode with me all the way home, enjoying the view on the bus from Atlantic City’s terminal to Port Authority. No, he didn’t look out the window at the New Jersey landscape; instead, he took in the unmoving look of concern that was etched on my face. Would I feel this good before a marathon again in 2012? And, if so – would I be able to avert the rookie mistakes as well as the obscure issues in order to earn a personal best time? The sad look on my face said it all: I was beginning to lose faith. The Tool took a deep breath of the stale air and a huge grin appeared across his face. He could sense an opening – and he was going to make the most of it.

Beware the Ides of Freakin’ March…..


The month of March was rough indeed.  After a poor showing in February during my second marathon of my “12 in ‘12”, I decided that changes needed to be made.  In my last blog entry, I noted that I gave up on chocolate and Diet Coke.  While I stayed disciplined and stayed clear of that delicious carbonated elixir through the end of the month, my resolve folded like a cheap lawn chair when it came to chocolate.  Hindsight being 20-20, the fact that I caved and resumed my love affair with all things dark chocolate probably saved lives.  I’m just going to leave it at that – no more detail is necessary.  Trust me.

 

In the weeks that built up to my third marathon of the year, The Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, New Jersey, I became more focused on my training and starting racking up more miles during the early mornings.  Each time I laced up my sneakers and waddled around Central Park, my confidence grew.  My pace became easier to maintain for longer periods of time.  I began to hold a 9;15-9:20 pace for 3-4 miles…which, historically for me, was simply a pipe dream.  I felt like I would erase all feelings of disappointment on March 25th.  All of the growing frustration stemming from my self-imposed Diet Coke de-tox was going to be worth it.  The constant, slight ache that was the result of a more spirited work ethic was going to be worth it.  My constant overall crankiness which was taken out on the world in general (during this time frame, my cherub-like demeanor morphed into a mouthy grouch a la Dr. House…sans chemical enhancements) would be worth it.  Right?

 

I took a New Jersey Transit bus from midtown New York City to Cape May, New Jersey on the morning of Saturday, March 24th in a real positive mood. (This is unusual for me, as I normally stomp around like a troll with a Bronx accent).  I checked into a fantastic small hotel near the center of this quaint town, and realized that the starting line for the marathon the next morning was literally a 4 minute walk from my room.  The expo was held in a small convention center on the boardwalk.  The volunteers were very polite and efficient.  Aside from a light rain, this marathon was shaping up just the way I had hoped.

 

I went to a local restaurant for an early carb-intense dinner, and sat alone in a small booth as I waited for my hefty serving of pasta to be trotted out.  My Iphone was playing the audiobook of “Too Big To Fail” through my earbuds…when all of sudden I was no longer sitting alone.

 

Like a genie escaping from a bottle, The Tool appeared on the worn wooden table that my elbows currently rested on.  He had that Cheshire Cat grin on his narrow face that immediately told me that my good vibes were about to become a thing of the past.

 

“So…..feeling good?”

 

“As a matter of fact – yes I am.  Go away”.

 

“Feeling really good?  Like a personal best time is on its way tomorrow?”

 

“Yup.  Now hit the bricks”.

 

“Feel like you’re going to surprise yourself – like you’re going to go sub 4:50?”

 

“Absolutely.  Now GO.  Leave.  Go play in traffic.  Go chase parked cars.  Go annoy someone – anyone – else.  I don’t care where you go or what you do – just do it somewhere else.  Hasta la vista, numbnuts”.

 

The Tool stood up and began to walk his tiny 4-inch persona toward me.  When he reached my large glass of ice water he paused, folded his pudgy arms and leaned his shoulder on the cold, sweaty glass.

 

“Look.  Here’s the deal.  All I wanted to do was stop by and let you know that I was here for you.  I made the trip all the way down to Cape freakin’ May New freakin’ Jersey for you.  Now I thought you’d appreciate the company.  But instead of being polite, you got rude.  You asked me to leave.  That was not nice.  Not nice at all.  Something will need to be done about this disrespect.”

 

And with that, he instantly evaporated.  The only thing left that signified his presence was a hint of Drakkar in the air.  Once more, I sat alone in the booth.  Alone with my thoughts.  The seed of doubt had been planted – I just couldn’t let it take root.

 

The audiobook had lost its amusing flare.  As I turned my Iphone off, the waitress arrived with my linguini.

 

“Let me guess – you’re running tomorrow?”

 

“How did you know?”

 

“Pasta.  Call it an educated assumption.”

 

I tried to show my positive attitude… “Well I feel ready.  I think tomorrow’s going to be a good day”.

 

“26 miles, right?”

 

“Yup – 26.2 miles”.

 

“….how – that’s a long way to run!  Must be painful.”

 

There went my positive aura –  “……yeah – it does for a bit.  But….it’s worth it.”

 

“Well, good luck!”  And the young waitress strolled back to her spot near the bar.

 

….and in the distance, I heard a faint chuckle.

 

 

 

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!

 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