You're supposed to taper before the big marathon. Sadly, I think I've tapered before the peak. Three days in SF last week without any foot time, half of my run this weekend. I'm off my feed.

What surprised me Sunday when I ran was how much it felt like I was slogging through molasses. I've never started out so slow. A minute or two behind my normal pace.

Actually, I think I'll do ok at the CIM. Not great, but ok. One thing I've learned is that one shouldn't let a single run summarize your state. But Sunday was discouraging. We'll try again Wednesday. And I'm going to try to do a long run on Sunday.

Then it's two weeks until the next marathon. After which, I think the half-marathon is my sport.

Only Two Low Points At The Cowtown

Just a short followup with some unhappiness at the Cowtown.  I mentioned that I was fairly well done with the day after the race. I bee-lined to my 'get a ride home' pick up point, failing to pick up my commemorative cowbell and Team In Training pin. (The still wonderful mentor, Judy, supplied both.)

The other thing I failed to do was get my grab bag. Most races (I've learned) will give you a bag to stick stuff that you don't want to run in, but want to pick up after. Well, I wandered off and left my many-years-old 4D jacket behind. And yes, that's a banana in my pocket. And no, I'm no sure why my brain is exuding so much light.

The race staff returned my call yesterday and said they'd take a look. But I have it on good authority that the bag is probably gone.

The second major sad point was the failure of the Nike+ Sport Band. I never got it to calibrate right, so it wasn't a useful tool to track my runs, but the pace setting was close enough for me. I wanted to use that to help me not go out to fast early on (a standard newbie mistake) and to maintain pace once I was out.

Well, it failed utterly at even that. The pace data would go blank, shoot to 22 min mile (crawling?) and back to the reasonably accurate. Bleh.  Fortunately, by the end of the run, pace wasn't an issue. 

Marathon Man - That's All For Now.

Last Sunday I traveled 26.2 miles by foot. I ran most of it, walked the last bit. Before we get to the end though, I have a few thanks.

There were three coaches for the Team in Training folk. One, Sheri Hoppner, was a 'walk' coach. Even though I aspired to be a runner, Sheri always seemed the most accessible and she was a frequent source of info during the five months of training. And, during the marathon she caught up with me at some point (later then 15 miles, but before the 20 mile point) and walked me in. I mean, wth? But that was the thing. I was in Purple and so they had my back. And, by highlighting Sheri, I don't want to minimize the run coaches. If I asked they told. And I used their schedule to get me from couch to course in 5 months. Thanks to Rich and Tony as well.

Under the Team In Training coaches, organizationally, are mentors. Each mentor had a handful of trainees for whom they were responsible. Making sure we made it to practice, answering questions, and providing support etc. My mentor was Judy Seibold and she was terrific throughout. But on race day, after she finished her half-marathon, she tracked me down and became a one person swag source. Around mile 20 Judy showed up to see how I was doing. At that point, the answer was 'not well'. She handed over pretzels, water, Gatorade, M&M's - i.e., everything she had on her that might help. And then disappeared. Only to reappear at mile 24 with even more (and different) stuff. And then again at the finish. She was great.

Other team mates and mentors were incredibly supportive as well. I might have been able to do this without the purple folk, but it wouldn't have been as rewarding.

My good friend Larry Sharpe, a Pacific Grove resident, came up to cheer me on. I thought it was nice enough that he was in the neighborhood, but he decided to ride along on his bike. At first he was going to just ride the first half, but he had so much fun that he postponed his other morning plans and stayed with me. It was great having him.  We solved some serious software problems in the first half of run and I was grateful for the distraction. Larry likes to ride his bike. Last summer he rode from Folsom back to Pacific Grove. So, this 26.2 miler was a cake ride.

Patty Hoffman is a new friend, also a marathoner (like me....) and offered run the last half with me. She was great. She'd been there, done that. Her job was to give me her life story so I wouldn't be thinking about my current story. She kept pace, as long as I could, suggested strategies, monitored water intake and outflow and generally kept me upright. As a former Team in Trainee, I think she enjoyed being back in the fold and seeing old friends.

Finally, Steve and Ed. Steve White and I have been having lunch or breakfast together for eons. Steve was also a Team in Training runner & mentor and even did the database for the local chapter. (Patty was one of Steve's mentees, I think.) Ed Ryan, a friend of Steve's, also a runner and Patty's husband, joined the lunch cabal about a year ago and I became a runner due to periodic proximity. It's all their fault. They were of no help during the prep. Typical advice was 'suck it up' and "stretch? why would you do that?"

Ok, still reading? On with the day.

It started early. The run started at 7:30, but Team In Training wanted us there at 6:30 for pictures. So, we were out of the house at 6:00. Molly was up from Oakland to handle transportation and cheering responsibilities.  She'd been home for the first three months of the training and continued her supportive ways.

During the night, the Team In Training fairy came by and posted something in the front yard.


We were in a hurry, so I had to leave that there all day. Sigh.

Molly dropped me off and I wandered around Land Park taking it all in. Found Larry and we talked while Molly went for Lilah so they were both back for the start of the marathon.


And then we were off. The first 13 miles (the first lap around the course) went pretty well. Here I am, smiling at about mile 8:


There were about a half-dozen bands playing along the way and it was all pretty entertaining.

A special treat showed up at mile 10. I turned a corner and saw some munchkins holding a sign, which I couldn't read until I got a bit closer:


The Steele's (minus John who was visiting his dad) were out to make sure I was properly inspired. It was great to see them. They curved back around with the sign at about mile 16.

The first half went well.  I was pretty chipper as I went past what was the finish line for the half-marathoners. A little sore, but in the game.


But shortly thereafter I had a new symptom - nausea. That hadn't happened during any of my training runs and I really wasn't sure what the treatment was. The faster I moved (and 'fast' was a relative term at that point) the worse I felt. So, the solution was to walk. The last 6 was at a slow walking pace. Up to that point I was on a 6 hour pace, but that was gone.

And that's where the support was really helpful. Tony, one of the run coaches, rode along for a while, but it was mostly Patty, Larry, Judy and Sheri keeping me going. Larry turned down some pretty serious money for his bike. 

But, really, after all that training and all that support, there was no way I wasn't going to finish.

It picked up again once I got back to the park and was within the last mile. Ed was there,  Lilah, Molly and Jeanine were there. Mom even met me at the finish line (to tell me she'd made a pest of herself with race staff.) 

It takes a village to get Lee across the finish line.



I got my cowbell and I was done. I pretty much bee-lined to the meeting point where Molly was going to pick me up. I needed to crash. This picture of me smiling is a joke. I was feeling like crap.


Judy wasn't done providing great support, however. In my zoned-ness I hadn't officially checked out and received all of my tchotchkes. So, Judy covered that for me. It was great. I want these people on my side for my next hair-brained idea.

The rest of Sunday was recovery. I crashed at LEWJ's and the family went out for food and two bags of frozen peas. I got recovery tips from Ed, via text and I slept a bit.  Lilah was really sweet. She hadn't been around for the training and she expressed a lot of pride in the old man. That alone made the previous 5 months worthwhile.

Amazingly, by Monday I was ok again. I was sore, but I've been sore since I started this, since the training has all been about doing more this week than you did last week. 

Tomorrow I'll try to run again and that will be informative, but this week has been fine.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for the emails, the phone calls and the financial support for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Thank you for the tweets and the Facebook posts. Because of your support quitting was never an option.

If you're just joining us, this is all about me running the Cowtown Marathon last October 4th as a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Details can be found here.  You can still make donations here

Marathon Man - The last week starts with the gods mocking me.

This episode starts with me stepping out of the comfort zone. The squeamish (or those with proper social sensibilities) should just quit reading now.

Still with me? Ok, here's some background.

I've written before about how surprised I am at the mental aspects of training. I've never been an athlete - I'd never been coached. I really wasn't ready for the idea of keeping my head in the game. Especially as the runs got longer, my mind really started getting in the way. With the real long runs, the narrative in my head is how badly I really need to use a restroom. Running as laxative.

This has been the reason that I've made the last three longer runs on my own terms and not with the team. I can't expect the team coaches to be concerned about my mental fixation with always being within 5 minutes of a flush toilet. Once my mind decides I need a bathroom, that clanging stays front-most until I'm able to resolve the issue. After that, all is good.

Well, on the bike trail, or on new routes, I just don't know. And not knowing is worse. Even if there isn't a present need, my anxiety about not knowing how far I was from the FT became really loud in my head.

So, I've built these runs in my neighborhood that allow me to maintain, if not a five minute radius, a reasonable proximity to indoor plumbing. Plus, I know where I am and where I'm going. All is good. Now I'm just back to having my feet hurt and normal running concerns.

I remain interested in the mind over matter aspect of this, however. I mean, I want to conquer this problem. I have friends who enjoy trail running and it sounds like fun and there aren't flush toilets on the trails. I need to figure out a way to distract myself. I think.

This morning I thought I'd try something different. I'd run with headphones (which I normally don't do - the teams and most managed races don't allow it.)  Specifically, I'd listen to the Radiolab podcast. Radiolab is  a great show that talks about all things "science, philosophy and human experience".  Great. My mind would be taken over by the sounds of science. 

The first episode I hear is great; it's a little vignette on how a baby's brain develops and how she might understand the world and what it means exactly when she stares at you adoringly at about 2 months.

But then, we get to parasites. And after a brief introduction where we learn about wasps and cockroaches and other fairly distant entities, the conversations turn to parasites that live in humans. Specifically the hookworm. And the invention of the outhouse. And the story of a fellow who went to Africa specifically to become infected with hookworms to fight allergies and asthma! By wading around in toilet pits. AND NOW HE'S MINING HIS OWN FECES TO SELL HOOKWORMS! That's right, I was listening to a 24 minute story on the history of poop in America.

The next time I write you will be after the Marathon. The Cowtown is next Sunday. Ready, or not - here I come.

If you're just joining us, this is all about me running the Cowtown Marathon this October as a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Details can be found here.  You can make donations here.

Marathon Man - Splat

Hey Campers, thanks for tuning in again.

I'm celebrating today. I finished 17 miles, ran the whole way and lived to tell of it. 

It was a weird day. First, about a mile and half in I tripped on a tree root and went flying. Well, it was probably more like tipping over with some velocity. There was blood. 
(Not at all) Oddly I had done the same thing about 6 years ago - went flying, got up and kept running.  I knew this was a test.  So, I got up and kept running.

The next aberration was the weather. It was over 100° yesterday. Today, not so much.  It was downright chilly. And there was thunder and lightening. We don't get thunder and lightening very often in Sacramento.  And a very light rain. I was wondering when my friend Mark would be by to pick me up. The weather really never got started, just these odd bits of activity.

My friend Steve was not at all happy that I'd had scheduled a house stop in the middle of the run - he was sure that I'd get too comfortable and just stop. Well, no worries, Mr. White.  I left the clock running to encourage a brief stop and spent less than two minutes in the house .

So, it was a good run and now I'm having the usual post run soreness, compounded by some shin and palm clean up.

If you're just joining us, this is all about me running the CowTown Marathon this October as a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Details can be found here.  You can make donations here.