Marathon #7: The 2012 San Francisco Marathon…PART 1


I went to bed the night before the marathon feeling like I had done the best I could to prepare for the morning.  I ate well.  I even stretched (OK – I waved to my toes while slightly bending from my waist…who am I kidding).  As the sun came up, I really felt like I was in a positive frame of mind – as my grandfather once put it, I “woke up ready to bite the ass off a bear”.  (NOTE: I have no idea what that really meant – I’m guessing it was an old saying that he learned on the streets in Hell’s Kitchen back in the 1920’s).  As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I was nervous about this race.  It’s San Francisco – a marathon whose mottos include “The Race That All Marathoners Fear” and “Worth The Hurt”.  Since I usually lack much backbone at all (let’s face it: if it wasn’t for the extra starch in my dress shirts I’d be unable to walk upright), this race played with my psyche since the beginning of the month.  So this gung-ho feeling was….well…odd.

 

I took in a decent breakfast (translate that into 2 Smores-flavored PopTarts) and properly hydrated.  I went through my usual marathon morning preparation and, by the time I left the hotel and began my expedition to the starting line, I felt like I was ready for the day’s hazards.  Once outside, I couldn’t get over how chilly it was!  50 degrees and windy.  On July 29th!  As a New Yorker, needing a jacket on July 29th just seems WEIRD!

 

I had no idea how to get to the starting line from the hotel, so I figured I’d just grab a cab.  HA.  Good luck with that.  None of the cabbies wanted to pick up the marathon runners and drive them to the starting line unless they were paid the amount of money that would be the equivalent of taking us to the AIRPORT.  No thanks – I’ll walk first.  And so I did.

 

And…..the starting line was in simple walking distance after all.

 

Everything was EXTEREMELY well organized.  UPS trucks were very close to the Start and Finish Lines.  The Starting Line was well attended and it was very clear that the race organizers really orchestrated a first-rate event.  It was the kind of starting area that a runner can simply show up to 30-45 minutes before his/her scheduled starting time and still not feel rushed.

 

Bart Yasso (if you don’t know who he is, here’s a link:  http://www.bartyasso.com  I just consider him to be one of the Godfathers of marathoning’s Five Families) was on hand to kick off the race and provide color commentary as one starting wave of runners after another began their 26.2 mile trek.  I read his book and, as a result, I identified several things that I needed to work on in order to become a better distance runner – so naturally I thought that his participation in this race was…to use a technical term…COOL.  Some people look for famous sports athletes or actors within the starting areas or in their starting waves.  For example: I once heard a young runner – in a high-pitched scream – blurt out “OH…MY….GOD!  That’s Roger from Season 6 of The Real World!!”  While sightings of illustrious celebrities such as Roger (whoever the hell he is – no offense to all you Roger-lovers out there…) are assuredly key moments in a distance runner’s life (insert a sarcastic chuckle here), star-gazing doesn’t quite do it for me.  To me, dudes like Bart Yasso, John “The Penguin” Bingham (http://www.waddle-on.com), Amby Burfoot (http://www.ambyburfoot.com) and, of course, Jeff Galloway (http://www.jeffgalloway.com) are the ones that I like to listen to during marathon Expos or on marathon mornings.

 

I enjoyed listening to the color commentary and watching as the first couple of waves began their journey around the city.  As the time for my wave’s departure approached and I headed toward my corral, I hoped – albeit in vain – for an Elvis sighting.  THAT would be a great omen.  But alas, I had no luck.  It appeared that my goal of running once more with The King was dashed.  But the fates had something interesting in store for me as I sauntered past a long line of port-o-crappers.  I noticed someone close by that appeared to be a hippie.  Brown, shaggy beard.  Weatherbeaten red 1980’s style mesh hat.  White athletic socks circa 1978 that were pulled up almost to the knees.  Then it hit me.  The light bulb went off in my head.  I couldn’t resist the urge…and I blurted out “GUMP!”

 

His name was Forrest.  Forrest Gump.  And if he was going to show up to this marathon, he….was…running!  Talk about a good omen.

 

Minutes later I was standing in my corral.  We moved forward slowly to the starting line, listened to a few quick recommendations from Don Yasso, Capo of the Marathon Addicts, and off we went.

 

Another 26.2.  Let’s hope this is worth the hurt.

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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!

 

…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

Turtle 2.0


After taking two straight days off from running in preparation for this weekend, I was up and out of the apartment early this morning to join my team for its weekly long run.  I know I have 26.2 coming up tomorrow morning – but I also realize that it’s early in the marathon preparation season, and beginner who never ran more than 5-6 miles in their lives might get a little discouraged as the mileage increases.  So I don’t want to miss the weekly long runs, because I just want to do my part to help these nuggets complete the goal in November.

 

I remember how I felt in 2007.  It was the first time I ever ran with a team, and I was even slower than I currently am (which is extremely difficult to believe, yet true nonetheless).  When I began running with the group, I realized that almost all of them were faster than me.  They could run longer and harder.  When they stretched, they could actually touch their toes, while I simply had to wave hello to mine from an embarrassing distance.  I felt discouraged.  I didn’t feel ready.  I didn’t feel like a true part of the team because I felt like I held the team back in some odd way.  So….I stopped showing up.  I didn’t quit – I just stopped showing up.  By the time Marathon Week arrived, I was not physically or mentally prepared for the challenge ahead, and I suffered all day long.  Fifth Avenue felt like a death march.  The 59th Street Bridge looked like Everest.  It was a wonderful experience from a macro perspective; however, it was my third ING New York City Marathon and I was still making DUMB mistakes.  Things had to change.

 

So here I am, five years later.  My sixth year with this Team For Kids and my second with The WDW Radio Running Team.  I have qualified to be a Marathon Maniac, and I’m almost half way there to running a dozen marathons in a year.  All of this would not have been possible if I gave up completely in 2007.

 

And – like I said – I was REEEEEEALLY close.

 

Heaven knows I am NOT a talented runner.  Someday, when I grow up, I aspire to be.  However, presently I remain a work in progress.  If my running life were a technology company, I’d be spending a ton of money on research and development in an aggressive attempt to develop Turtle 2.0.  The battery life would be MUCH improved.  Response times would be much faster. And…yes…the product would weigh less and be a bit easier on the eyes.

 

I know how important this aspiration for personal evolution is to me.  And, for me, running is at the core of this process.  If I had quit in 2007 – this evolution would not even be a consideration.  I’d still be running Turtle 1.0…and trust me: that would NOT be a product that many people would find much use with.

 

Maybe there are other runners that just joined Team For Kids this year.  Maybe they are already feeling like I did in 2007.  Maybe they are looking at this marathon training process as the challenge that kickstarts their evolution into Marathoner 2.0.  And maybe…just maybe…this might be the practice where one of them decides to quit.  Well – I don’t want that to happen.  I want to make sure that I do my part to help these nuggets to stay motivated and positively focused on the challenges ahead.  MAYBE – just maybe – I’ll make them laugh a few times and they leave practice feeling in a slightly better mood than when they began their 5 miler.  That could make the difference between them showing up next week – or not.

 

That’s why I run.  That’s why I love being a mentor.  Sure, I enjoy getting in shape and helping my own evolution along.  But the feeling of getting someone through a long run that they never thought they could handle – yet they did – is the good stuff.

 

So today’s 5 miler was fun.  I got a couple of beginners around the 5 mile loop of the park, and we had a few laughs all along the way.  A good way to start the day.

 

Now that that’s over, I need to focus on tomorrow.  26.2 alone, around Manhattan.  I’ve decided to risk it and use the hydration pack – chaffing be damned (my skin wasn’t silky smooth to begin with).  I figured I’d head out my door at 5am, and start near 72nd and the west side drive.  I’ll take pictures throughout the run, and share them with you tomorrow evening.  My time won’t be great because I’ll be left standing at MANY a red light in the morning, that’s for sure.  But I won’t shut down until I hit my goal.

 

Tomorrow will be interesting.  Yet another step toward a turtle upgrade.

______________________________________

 

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