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Archive for October, 2010

All Quiet

I totally stole this from the Wife – you can find her over at: http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/

.

On November first, 2010

Please join me

In shutting down Social Communication

For one day

.

No Twitter

No Facebook

No LOLs and OMGs

.

Just the quiet

That surrounds so many of our kids

.

A symbolic gesture

Of solidarity

And support

For those who struggle

Every day

To communicate

.

Raising funds and awareness across the globe

One person

At a time

.

Do you hear that?

The silence is deafening.

.

.

CLICK -> HERE <- TO JOIN

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High


Officer Thorny: Do you know how fast you were going back there?
College Boy 1: Umm…65?
Officer Thorny: …63.
College Boy 1: But…isn’t the speed limit 65?
Officer Thorny: Yes, it is.
[Pause]
College Boy 3: I’m freakin’ out, man!
Officer Rabbit: Yes, you are freaking out…man.

Opening scene of Super Troopers (2001)

Do you want to get high, so high

-Cypress Hill


[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

Last March I ate a half marathon for lunch. At least, that’s the way I put it on my various social networks’ statuses. Obviously one cannot literally eat a half marathon, but I just as well could have said that I had smoked a half marathon because despite fighting a raging head cold, I spent the rest of that day and a better part of the following day on a high that I thought one could only achieve through, er, pharmaceuticals or love. I felt great. I don’t mean “walking around with a general sense satisfaction” great, no, I’m talking, Tony the Tiger, I…felt…GRRRRRREAT!  All of this due to a midday run that just happened to turn itself into a half-marathon.

By no means was it the farthest of runs; I had just done a slow rolling 18 miler with my buddy Mike a week and half before. Nor was it the fastest of runs either; I had flown through an 8 miler just two days earlier at a 7 minute per mile clip. It just happened to be one of those runs that hit that sweet spot (~7:45 pace for me at the time) – one that anybody who has been running for a certain amount of time eventually hits and then, like a love-sick teenager or a junkie, spends the rest of their time trying to re-create.

Personally, I love the runner’s high. You don’t get your heart-broken like the teenager nor do you end up ravaging your body like the junkie (quite the opposite really). Very few things feel better too – very few!

Just like any other potentially addictive thing though, you have to be careful with the runner’s high. I was still feeling great mentally the following night, but I could feel myself coming down. I wanted to pump up the endorphins again despite the fact that my head cold was now worse and had spread to my chest. The wife looked at me like I was crazy when I put on the shorts and began to head downstairs to run for an hour or two. I could hardly breathe and my eyes and nose were running like Niagara Falls. I just wanted a fix. I was also convinced that a run would cure my ailments. As I walked downstairs however, I had a moment of clarity and realized that rest was probably what my body needed more than anything else. That’s not to say I didn’t take one more step down the stairs before I finally turned around and crawled into bed.

Even as I drifted off to sleep, I could still feel my feet nudging me to get up.

I’ve spent most of my life not understanding why gamblers continue to gamble or why drug addicts continue to destroy themselves. I have a mildly addictive personality, but when something looks like it might permanently hurt me or those around me, I tend to know when and how to say no. But that night on the stairs, I caught a glimpse, just a glimpse, of what happens with true addicts. I just wanted to feel the way I had felt the day before and running was the delivery system. Had I felt just a touch better, I may have continued down the stairs, to my detriment.

***

After my run that day, all of the worries that had been weighing me down simply did not seem so weighty anymore. Yes, they were still there, but I felt better equipped to tackle them. And to a degree, that’s the point isn’t it? Running can better equip you to deal with your daily crises.  Imagine if we could get everyone to experience the runner’s high just once.  Just imagine.

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Why do you run?

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

I have a friend, let’s call her K, who I have been encouraging to take up running for over a year now. She’s inching closer. Last year she got the equipment (shoes and clothing). This past summer she went out on a couple of short runs. There have been starts and stops. Currently she is in stop mode. She’s convinced that her time has passed; that time and children have done irreversible things to her body and she could never be a runner or in the shape she was in 20 years ago.

I tell K that I only took up running 2 years ago. Yes, I dabbled in running before, but 2 years ago, I was Christine O’Donnell…I was not a witch runner. I ate healthfully, I exercised occasionally, but by no means was I a runner. Today, I will admit that I am a runner.  I will also tell you that I am you (her).  When I started running, I didn’t think that I could run a marathon.

K looks at me and says she could never run as fast as me. Maybe. But I have the same thoughts when I look at my fast friends Steve, Caleb, Kristen and Lam. I don’t let that discourage me though. I use it as inspiration.  There’s always going to be someone faster and slower than you.

I tell K that because of running, I am in better shape at 41 than I was at 21.

Unless your name is Dean Karnazes, you don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re an Ultra-Marathon Man. It’s a progression. It takes time for one to go from the couch to the marathon. It goes faster for some, but the bottom line is, with little exception, we can all be runners, whether you top out at the 5K distance or progress to ultras.

K says over and over again, “no, I can’t.”

But I know she can say, “Yes, I can.”

Is it easy?

No.

Is it instant?

Never.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely!!!

There’s a reason why the Couch-to-5K and other walk/run programs are wildly successful.

So I ask you to leave a comment to tell K your story; tell my friend that she can turn back time and feel better than she did 20 years ago – that she needs to understand what we already know…yes, she can!

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

You really couldn’t miss them could you? After seeing the pictures in my race report of the Smuttynose Marathon, many people asked me what I had done with my VFF’s (Vibram Five Fingers). You couldn’t miss the fact that I was wearing the bright radioactive orange Saucony Kinvaras for the marathon. Rest assured, I still have my Vibrams and I still use them.

Still, I know, it’s confusing. I’m “the Vibrams guy”. I’m the one who has been preaching the benefits of barefoot-style running. Every marathon I had run before Smuttynose, in fact every race save my very first, a 10k, has been in some model of the VFF’s.

So what gives? Why the switch?

Here’s the deal.  They don’t call the marathon a marathon for nothing.  It’s a long race.  I am still a novice at this running thing both in time and in skill.  Do I know more than the average Joe?  Sure.   Am I faster than the average runner?   Maybe a little.  But the bottom line is that my body and mind are still learning how to do this thing called running.

When running a 26.2 mile footrace, things start to break down, both mentally and physically. It can happen early or it can happen late, but inevitably, for me, it happens.  Somewhere along the course of 26.2 miles, my focus will wander and my form will break.  Old habits will kick in, and bad form will simply happen.

In shorter races (5K to Half-Marathon) I can get away with that. But at 26.2 miles, it’s hard to reel it back in.

What in the world does this have to do with the Kinvaras?

I love my Vibrams.  I do.  And I will continue to wear them and race in them at shorter distances. However, if I am going to be completely honest, I have to admit that in all three of my marathons where I wore the Vibrams, at some point, I was thinking about my feet.

Did my feet hurt? Not particularly.

Were there hotspots?   Definitely.

My problem was NOT with the Vibrams.   It was with me.  Physically and mentally, I am not good enough yet to maintain the focus and form necessary to run the way I want to for the marathon distance.

That’s where the Kinvaras come in.  They are Saucony’s entrant into the minimalist shoe arena. They are extremely light and have a minimal heel-to-toe drop (4mm I believe), and encourage a mid-foot strike.  They help you run the right way.

BUT they are soft underfoot. There is just enough cushion underneath to let you get away with bad form late in the race without encouraging it early on.  They are forgiving.  They also handle the road very well.  Tight turns or straight aways, the shoe has held up.

The one drawback of the Kinvaras may be that they want to go fast.  I found that from the moment I put them on the first time they simply wanted to go.  I initially struggled in keeping my pace down when I ran my long, slow runs.  I have since tamed the shoes somewhat, but I have discover that my perceived pace is actually much slower than my actual pace.  To have that feeling in a marathon is priceless, especially if you have the discipline to stay at your goal pace.  That feeling allowed me to have a nice kick at the end of Smuttynose.

I have found in the 8 weeks I have been running in the Kinvaras that I never, NEVER think about my feet.   As a runner, that is a huge luxury.  Even when my form began to break down at the Smuttynose Marathon, not once did I think of my feet.  My legs eventually grew tired, my energy ebbed, but my feet didn’t ask for attention at any point.

If you’re looking for a shoe that will encourage you to run with what I believe is proper form and let you forget out your feet, this is the one for you.  My personal favorite is the bright, radioactive orange, because you friends and family can spot you from a half-mile away.

The result at Smuttynose? The Kinvaras carried me to an 11 minute PR of 3:19:19.  An 11 minutes PR and a BQ.  A pretty convincing endorsement for a marathon shoe.

Team Kinvara at the Smuttynose Marathon 2010 - 3 PRs, 2 BQs

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

So it’s finally sinking in. I did it. Almost 2 years ago I started running. Shortly thereafter I had the audacity to think I could qualify for Boston. A little under a year ago, my first shot ended in a Frankenstein’s Monster walk (3:54).  Next came the surprise of Boston 2010 as an invitational runner ending in heartbreak on Heartbreak Hill (3:32).  That was followed 2 weeks later with the oppressive heat and humidity of Providence (3:30).  Although I finished each of those marathons, they all ended in a failed attempt to qualify. I was inching closer, but a BQ still seemed like an impossibly difficult dream.

But two and a half weeks ago, I did it.  3:19:19.  I qualified for Boston with a little room to spare.  It has finally sunk in (I was one of the lucky one who signed up Monday morning at 9AM when registration opened). With New York less than 3 weeks away I have been wondering, “what now?”   Whether I decide to gun for 3:15 in New York or not, the truth is, for the last 16 months I have been focusing on one thing – a BQ.   As amazing as the feeling of finally accomplishing that goal was, the joy was in the journey. My three failed attempts fueled a fire and made the story that much more meaningful to me.

That journey is done, and despite my growing excitement for the New York Marathon and my anticipation of running Boston in both 2011 and 2012 (hopefully), I am now left with a feeling that something is missing.  In my world of running, I have done it!  I have achieved my goal.  It is time for a new journey.  So what’s next? What’s the next goal?  I’m still not sure, but here are two things that I am considering.

First, the probably impossible dream of a sub-3:00 marathon. Despite taking nearly 35 minutes off of my marathon time in just over 11 months, the idea of taking off another 20 minutes sounds downright insane. Plus, at my age, I’ll be lucky if I don’t start slowing down significantly very soon.  Still, it’s alluring.  Much like being able to say I BQ’d, how cool would it be to be able to say I had a sub-3:00 marathon under my belt?

The other possibility that I am seriously thinking about (and yes, Doug, I do remember that I did promise I would do it if I qualified for Boston at Smuttynose) is running the Vermont 50 this coming September. I have never run an ultra, and 50 miles is about as far as I ever want to go. I am definitely intrigued by the idea.  But this isn’t just 50 flat miles.  No, this is 50 miles through the Vermont terrain.  The elevation profile frightens me.  Because Smuttynose was run late in the year, I actually not only qualified for Boston 2011, but also Boston 2012 as well, so there won’t be the urgency of running another marathon in the fall – that is if the BAA doesn’t change the requirements for qualifying in light of this years rapid close.  If they do, that may be the tipping point for me.

So, what do you think? Do I go back to Hampton next October and shoot for a sub-3:00 marathon or do I head to the mountains of Vermont and run a 50 mile race?

Fortunately, I don’t have to decide just yet, so I’m going to concentrate on New York.  3:15 anyone?

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I think that BOS marathon registration just BQ’d…8h is a reasonable time for a 114 year old, right?

-Tweet by @petfxr

Only if the marathon is female.  It’s 7 1/2 [hours] for 114 yr old male

-Tweet by @LuckyRunner40

But age on race day is 115

-Tweet by @petfxr

[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

Last night…no, check that, yesterday afternoon registration for the 115th Boston Marathon closed – 8 hours after it had opened.  This was, by far, faster than last year’s record of several weeks, which had in turn shattered the previous record set the year before of a couple of months.  Yup, if you had managed to BQ in the last 12 month months, but didn’t have phone or internet access yesterday, you are out of luck.  True, you can run for a charity or get lucky like I did last year by having an Invitational Entry handed to you, but if you simply wanted to register, and you went to do it after work yesterday, it’s “Sorry Charlie.”

I was lucky.  I got through on the computer at around lunch time.  Next year, who knows if that will be early enough.

8 hours.

8 FRAKKING HOURS!!!

As excited as I am, I am now a little nervous.  Another Twitter friend (@edschober) had the wisdom to point out, “[I] Bet the qualifying times for 2012 #bostonmarathon will be adjusted down…or they’ll triple the entry fee.”  My sudden fear now is that after BQ’ing for 2011 and 2012, I may get UBQ’s (UnBostonQualified) for 2012.  I understand the reasoning.  Although Boston isn’t the sole reason people run marathons in the Fall, there is a large contingent of runners who work all Summer to run a marathon in the Fall with the hopes of qualifying for Boston in the Spring.  Boston closing in 8 hours eliminated many of the Fall marathons, including the biggest one, New York City, from that equation.

If the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) doesn’t lower the times, you can bet that early fall marathons like  Bay State and Smuttynose will continue to grow in popularity, possibly driving up prices across the board.  I don’t know what the answer is.  It probably makes more sense for the BAA to lower the time rather than raise the fees (though who knows, maybe they’ll do both).

One final thought – let’s stop bashing the charity runners for this.  They only make up 5% of the field AND they do a lot of good.  Quite honestly, Boston would have closed yesterday regardless of whether there were charity slots or not.

Bottom line is that in all likelihood, I am going to have to get faster…or older faster, and I think I’m okay with that…I just hope that if the BAA lowers the times, they keep it within striking distance.

UPDATED: One last “last thought” – if runners are going to get angry at other runners for Boston filling up so quickly, they should be looking at runners like me.  Last year I was lucky enough to land an Invitational Entry and this year I was fortunate to qualify by a mere 1:40.  Please leave the charity runners out of it.

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

New York is still just under 3 weeks away. Before running Smuttynose, I had told myself that if I had the good fortune of qualifying for Boston, my approach to New York would be that of a fun run, a celebration, a victory lap. I was going to soak in every mile of the New York City Marathon experience, not caring what my time was.

That was my intent.

However, after watching the fantastic finish at the Chicago Marathon and tracking my friends at Chicago, Portland and Bay State, several of whom had BQ’s of their own, there’s been this voice; this voice that’s whispering in my ear.

It’s whispering, “3:15…3:15…3:15”.

I don’t even know if I can run a 3:15!

And furthermore, there’s no real reason for me to be attempting 3:15. By the time November 7th arrives, I will have already registered for Boston 2011 (registration opens this morning at 9:00AM), so it’s not like I’d improve my corral placement. On top of that, with only 5 weeks between Smuttynose and New York, no one is really expecting to see any kind of improvement, are they? Of course, the last time I ran 2 marathons so closely together, I did manage a 2 minute PR.

So I’ve been asking myself, could I take 4 minutes off in New York? Should I even try?

To make matters worse, my friend David (@DP_Turtle), who BQ’d at Chicago and finished Boston last year 11 seconds ahead of me, has thrown down a challenge. He will be running New York and is thinking maybe we should have a little side bet. Before you try stop me, it’s too late! We have agreed that the loser at New York is buying the winner a beer at Boston 2011. True, that’s not a whole lot on the line – it’s just a beer…and bragging rights!

Now, I did say early on, that I was planning on stopping to see everyone I know along the way and snapping a picture. Can I still do that and run harder than I did at Smuttynose? I don’t know. It’s doubtful.

So you see? I’m conflicted. I want to enjoy my victory lap. I want to hug every friend along the way (though after a few miles they may not want to hug me). But the competitive nature in me is whispering, “3:15…3:15…3:15”.

What’s a runner to do? What do you think?

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

Okay friends, New York is less than 4 weeks away.  When I first put it out there that I needed to raise $2600 to run the New York Marathon for Autism Speaks, you put me there in less than 4 weeks.  I was amazed and humbled how quickly my circle of friends rallied around to support this cause that is so very important to me.  I am extremely grateful.  For the last couple of months however, I’ve been stuck at a little over $3,000.  Nothing to sneeze at for sure, but I know I can do better.  So I’m throwing out a challenge.

If I can manage to raise $8,001 ($1 more than the goal of the fundraiser currently standing in 5th place among New York runners) before the Friday (11/5) I leave for New York, I will do this:

Yo! Wuzzup?

That’s right.  I will, for the first time in my life, dye my hair, and not only will I dye my hair, I will dye it Autism Speaks Blue.  Come on.  How many of you wanna see me walking around New York City with blue hair?

Here’s the link to my fund raising page —>HERE<—

Get me to $10K, and maybe I’ll even dye the dog!

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

I need an ice bath. It has been a long, long day! The temperature started out nicely for the Chicago Marathon, but they quickly rose to unbearable levels, reminiscent of my late miles at Providence. By the time I was done, I was exhausted. Chicago definitely took a lot of energy out of me.

What’s that? You thought I ran a marathon last week? Didn’t I just run Smuttynose? And now I ran Chicago?

Um, well, uh, yes! I did run Smuttynose last Sunday, and, um, no I didn’t run Chicago. But the truth is, between watching the event online and tracking a plethora of friends on Twitter, it made for a long, emotionally intense day.

The elite men’s finish was one of the most incredible ends to a marathon I have ever witnessed, even more exciting the the women’s finish in the 2009 Boston Marathon. Sammy Wanjiru simply amazed. I found out shortly thereafter that my friend TK had been yelling at her computer 300 miles away, just like me.  It was comforting to know I wasn’t the only crazy one being thrilled by this finish on a small, low-res screen.  Then, over the course of the next 5 hours I tracked friends (not only at Chicago but at Portland as well), many of whom were attempting BQ’s of their own, many others simply having the goal of making it to the finish line.

As the news of splits of various friends (@DP_Turtle, @runnrgrl, @calebmasland, @seeksboston26mi, @jenn_if_fer, @anivs19, @sclevine, @runwithareason, @MarathonBrian and many others) came through, the excitement of what they were going through was almost palpable. I wanted to get out there and run with them, each and every one of them.  Instead, many of us sent them encouragement via Tweets; I wanted New York to come sooner than the 4 weeks away it stands now.

I believe that most of my friends that were attempting to BQ succeeded. Everyone finished despite the soaring temperatures. Some friends had to dig extra deep during gut check time, but each and every one of them did so.

Gut check time for me came 7 hours in when I realized that my right thumb was shaking, literally shaking, over my iPhone. It wasn’t long after that the last of my buddies was in and I was able to give my thumbs the well-deserved ice bath they needed.

Who knew that watching a marathon from afar could be so intense!

Congrats to all of you who ran marathons this weekend!

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I need YOUR contributions to a project that I’m working on. Interested?

All you need to do is send me a paragraph or two telling me why you run and/ or why you think others should run. E-mail it to me at “runluaurun at gmail dot com” (written out so the bots don’t start sending me spam).

If you can, please include a picture of your favorite running shoes and tell me what kind of shoes they are. Also, please let me know how you would like to be referenced (real name, nickname, pseudonym, etc) just in case this project actually ever sees the light of day.

The more responses I get, the sooner I can put it all together, so please don’t be shy about forwarding this to your running friends and spreading the word.

Thanks!

Luau

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The are runners, there are marathoners and then there are Boston Qualifiers

-Spirit of the Marathon

“Uh oh!”

-Me at about 24.5 miles

[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

All week I had been uncharacteristically unnervous. It may have been the fact that this was going to be my 4th marathon in less than 12 months or maybe it was the focused training schedule I had been following. Either way, all week I had walked around with a sense of calm. That is, until I put the car in reverse to pull out of the garage and head up to Hampton Beach early Sunday morning. As soon as the car began to move, my stomach started to do back flips. I cranked up the music, but the whole way up, the butterflies in my stomach continued to get bigger and bigger.  As I listened to Stevie Wonder, Survivor, Queen, AC/DC among others, I started to visualize the race.  I tried to see myself crossing the finish line.  Earlier in the week, Brendan, my dailymile brother, had predicted a 3:19:22 finish for me.  The more I thought about it, the more overwhelmed I became.

Upon finally arriving in Hampton, I promptly made my way to the check-in tent.  A large group of dailymilers had agreed to meet at 7:30 to hang out, warm up and meet.  As I made my way to the tent  I heard someone say, “there’s a dailymile shirt”.  I turned to find a group of people, among them was Doug, from Lex’s Run, my buddy Pete, who had been the first cyber-runner to ever reach out to me, and Brendan, my brother who I was going to run this marathon with.  I had met Pete before and had run several races with Doug, but this was the first time I was meeting Brendan.  The funny part is that we knew each other.  Through dailymile and Twitter we have become good friends.  There was no awkward moment, it was just two friends getting together.

Pete, Brendan and me

Most of the dailymile/Twitter Smuttynose party - pre-race

After a bit of chatting it was time to head to the start.

Before heading to the corral, we had to get a picture of Team Kinvara:

Team Saucony Kinvara - Brendan, Pete and Me

Yes, I know, those aren’t Vibrams.  They aren’t my funny toe shoes.  Yes I do still run in them (my Vibrams), but no, I didn’t run in them for this race.  It’s probably the topic of another post, but suffice it to say that it was a game time decision that I went with the Kinvaras, and I don’t regret it one bit.  They are an amazing shoe!  If you aren’t ready for Vibrams, but you want a natural shoe that is unbelievably light and performs incredibly, go out and get a pair.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

In the swirl of the crowd, we had lost Pete.  It was probably for the best.  Although we had talked about running together, as we got into the last week, Pete’s confidence had grown and he had decided that he was going to go for 3:15 (the required time to BQ* for a young kid like him).   Brendan and I made our way to the starting area. Doug, who was running the half, found us and said, “you’ve put in all the work.  You’ve already done it.  Now it’s time to take your victory lap. Go get it.”  Inspiring words.

Brendan and I shook hands, gave each other a hug and waited for the starting gun.  Suddenly the crowd started moving.  We hadn’t heard the gun, but no matter.  It took us nearly a minute to get to the actual starting line and when we crossed it, you could hear our watches beep in unison.

:38 / 1:16 / 1:54 / 2:32 / 3:10  – these numbers, like the numbers from LOST,  were swirling around my head all week leading up to the race.  They were the 5 mile splits I knew I needed to maintain a relatively steady pace throughout.  I knew that if I hit mile 25 with a 3:10, I would be close, with a little room to spare.  It meant that I would be able to  run 9:09 minutes per mile for the last 1.2 and still cross the finish line with a 3:20:59.  I didn’t want it to be that close though.  I knew I had to have at least a couple of minutes in the bank.  I remembered the difficulty of finishing the last 3 miles at both Boston and Providence.  No, I didn’t want it to be that close.  Still, I knew that if I could maintain 38 minute per 5 mile splits, I would in all likelihood be okay.

The first mile involved Brendan and I weaving our way in and out of the crowd.  It was a little frustrating, but there was no sense in trying to sprint through.

Brendan (#2334) and I working our way through the crowd at the start - I know, heel striking that early is NOT a good sign - photo courtest of JiminMaine

We didn’t hit the first mile marker until nearly 8:00, way too slow for our goal.  Fortunately, by the time we hit the second mile marker the crowds had thinned a bit and we were able to get on pace.  Mile 2 arrived in 7:36.  As we made the first big turn into the town of Hampton I was unable to resist the urge to get away from the crowds behind us.  Without really thinking about it, I picked up the pace.  We hit mile 3 in a too quick 7:21.  Now some of you non-runners may be asking yourself, what the heck’s the difference between a 7:40 mile and a 7:20 mile?  Does it really make a difference?  Well, it’s not necessarily what it does to you right then, but more how it affects you 10 – 15 miles down the line.  Anyway, despite initially being worried about it, I realized that we were back on pace for my 5 mile splits of 38 minutes.  The next two miles were fairly uneventful and we hit the 5 mile marker in 37:54.  Right on target.  The first 5 miles went by almost too easily.

3 miles later we made our way to the coast.  The wind was still relatively calm.  In the distance I was surprised to see someone strip off his camelback hydration system and throw it into the grass.  I yelled, “Nice toss!” and he waved an arm.  A few minutes later Brendan and I caught up to him.  A bit of chit-chat and we discovered that Ralph was making an attempt at a BQ of 3:20 as well.  This was Ralph’s first timed marathon.  He had run the distance once during his training.  We invited him to run along with us, which he was more than happy to do.  After a relatively slow mile 6 and 7 (7:46 and 7:43 respectively) we had picked up the next 2 miles at sub-7:30 pace.  As we passed through small pockets of spectators, I reached out to high-fived the kids.  I was yapping away, talking about my first marathon experience and the awful pace-setter I followed in that race.  Before we knew it, we passed mile marker 10 – 1:15:49.  Again, right on target.

For some reason, I felt like I needed to take on the role of cheerleader for our little pod, so I just kept talking…and talking…and talking (in retrospect, it explains why I had a sore throat for the next few days).

The Smuttynose Marathon is a double-loop.  Starting at about mile 3, you get to see the mile markers for the second half of the marathon, so as you’re passing the mile markers for 8, 9 and 10, you are also passing the ones for 21, 22, and 23.  Psychologically it was a little tough to realize that we were going to have to do this all over again.  In the meantime, I realized that Brendan had been falling back a bit – not too far, maybe only a few seconds per mile, but it was enough to make me a little nervous.  I would occasionally turn around to check on him and make sure he was still with me.  Every time, he would nod in the affirmative, and I would turn back around.  We had made an agreement earlier in the week that if someone faltered, the other was NOT to risk his own race for the sake of the other, however, I also didn’t want to lose my partner in crime.

At the 11.5 mile mark, those that were running the half-marathon peeled off.  As was the case when I ran Manchester almost a year ago, it was a discouraging moment.  I had been running for quite some time with this loose pod of people and suddenly we went from a crowd  to a string.  I tried convincing a few of the runners that were a mile and a half from their finish to come join us.  A young lady looked at me, smiled and said, “been there, done that.” I was tempted to say something back to her, but I bit my tongue.  As we peeled away, directed by a volunteer to go in a different direction, I pointed at the finish and said, “but the finish line is over there!”  He laughed but told me I had to go the other way anyway.

Mile 12 arrived at a 6:08 pace.  Yeah, no, really.  That’s what my watch said.  Everybody around me looked at their watches confused.  Obviously there had been an error in placement.  When mile 13 arrived 7:40 later, I realized that somewhere later down the line, we were going to have to make up a minute and a half.

Just after 12 I saw the leader coming the other way. He was all alone.  I couldn’t help but admire his being able to run at that pace all alone.  I glanced back at Brendan.  He was still on my tail.  He nodded, so I kept the pace.  Ralph had fallen off (I would late find out he ran a 3:35).  At about the halfway point however, Brendan began to fade just a little more.  Truth is, it was probably more my picking up the pace a little and Brendan holding steady.  I noticed that my splits were closer to 7:30 than 7:40.  I kept looking back, but the gap was growing.

I hit mile 15 at 1:52:22.  2 minutes in the bank, I thought, but then I realized that at some point the “make up” for the short mile 12 had to becoming.  Still, an extra minute and a half  put me at about 1:53:52.  Definitely on target.

At Mile 16, we rejoined the part of the course we had already run.  I looked over my shoulder looking for Brendan.  He was now maybe 30 yards back.  I decided I had to press on.  I ran the next five miles (miles 16 – 21) 11 seconds faster than I had run them (miles 3 – 8 ) earlier.  When I hit mile 20 at 2:30:09 (2:31:39 with the adjustment), I knew I had a shot.  As my friend Rick Reilly has said to me on several occasions, it was all coming down to the final 10K.  The marathon, he would tell me, is actually 2 different races: it’s the first 20 miles and the last 10K.  The final 10K had been what killed me in Manchester, had knocked me down at Boston, and had taken the fight out of me at Providence.

When I hit mile 20, I began to do a lot of arithmetic in head. 

6.2 miles, just under 50 minutes to go, 6 times 8 is 48, 8 times 60 is 480, 48 plus 48 is 96, 96 is 1:36, 48 plus 1:36 is 49:36, which puts me at 3:21:05 – Shit!  Start over – if I run a 7:50 for the next 6.2 miles…

When I hit mile 21 in 7:32, I re-calibrated everything again. I was doing okay.  But I still knew the adjustment for mile 12 was coming, and at mile 22 it came.  There had been a small part of me that had hoped and prayed that by some miraculous twist in space-time that we had all, in fact, run 6 minute miles at mile 12, but as my watch passed 8:00, then 8:30, I realized the time to pay the debt had come.  I kept looking for the mile marker.   – tick tick tick – 8:40, 8:45, 8:50.  I finally saw the mile marker and passed it at 9:07.  My watch now read 2:46:49 and I had 4.2 miles to go.

I again began to do the math in my head. 

4.2 miles, 34 minutes 10 seconds left before the cut off. 8 minute miles means 2 minutes and 10 seconds to run 0.2 miles, if I multiply 2 minutes 10 seconds by 5 I got 10 minutes 50 seconds, what? That can’t be right, oh, wait a minute, it is, 96 seconds is less than 130 seconds!!!

If I could just maintain 8 minute miles I was going to be okay.  Buoyed by this thought, I ran mile 23 in 7:31.  I looked over my shoulder for Brendan, but I had now lost sight of him.

Now I just needed to fight off the last 5K. Mile 24 came and went in 7:41.  Part of me dared to think that I had this in the bag.  I was cruising.  I had this.

Or so I thought.

24.5 arrived with my legs turning to jello.  One moment I’m running steady, the next my legs are wobbling underneath me.  I remember literally saying to myself, “uh-oh!” Fortunately I had 24.5 miles of momentum behind me, but I found myself slowing.  I looked at my watch. 3:06:00.  I had four minutes to get to mile 25.  14:59 to get to the finish, 1.7 miles away.

On any given day, if I need to, I know I can run 1.7 miles in less than 10 minutes.  No problem.  I might be in a lot of pain at the end of those 10 minutes, but I know I can do it.  At that moment, looking at 1.7 miles felt like I was looking at another 5.  My legs wobbled again.

For a split second I thought, “I’m not gonna make it. This is where I am going to hit the wall.  This is where my assault on a BQ ends.”

Then I heard my friend Sheila.  Now mind you, I have never met Sheila, nor have I ever heard her voice.  I know her through this blog, the wife’s blog and through Twitter.  I imagine her voice to be strong and authoritative, but nurturing.  An iron voice wrapped in a velvet scarf.  But I heard her shouting at me:

“Run like your hair is on fire. Run Luau, RUN!”

I put my hand on my heart where I was wearing an Autism Speaks pin.  Strength flowed from my burning hair down to my legs.  “This is nothing compared to what my little Brooke goes through” I thought, “this pain is temporary”.  I was running through molasses, but I was running.  I ran by the 25 mile marker – 3:09:50.

OK! 11:09 to cover 1.2 miles.  The molasses was getting thicker.  The wind had picked up AND there were people just milling about along the course.  I weaved around a few groups of walkers.  A runner in blue was 70 or so yards ahead of me.  I focused on him, mentally trying to reel him in.  Slowly he got bigger and bigger.  I was reeling him in, but I could feel myself fading.

“HAIR ON FIRE!!!” Sheila yelled.

At this point I was running on fumes.  I didn’t think there was anything left in the tank nor did I think I had any gears left.

Mile 26. 3:17:47.

That last mile had taken nearly 8 minutes.  Frak!  No, no, no, no, no!!! I was slowing down!

It was do or die time.  I yelled out loud at the top of my lungs, “Come ON!!!  Run! Dammit!!! RUN!!!”

I think I scared a few of the walkers on the course, but it worked.  I found and hit that last gear.  My speed started to pick up.  45 seconds later I passed the 13 mile mark for the half marathoners.  0.1 to go.  The guy in blue was firmly in my sites.  I put it into overdrive, lengthened my stride and went into full sprint mode.

Someone yelled at the guy in blue, “he’s coming!  he’s gonna catch you!!!”

Too late, buddy!  I flew past him.

I heard my buddy Adam, who had paced a friend through the half, yelling, “Luau! Luau! Luau!”  I pumped my fist!

I looked up and saw the clock, it read 3:20:something.  I knew I had it.    I KNEW I HAD IT!!!

Official Time - 3:19:19 - photo courtesy of Doug (@reallynotarunnr)

The euphoria of qualifying for Boston was (IS!) unbelievable.  I didn’t know if this day was ever coming.  Friends have told me that they knew, but the truth is, you never know what the next day is going to bring.  I could wake up tomorrow and be unable to run for whatever reason, but now…now, I can call myself a Boston Qualifier.

After shooting through the finish, I found my buddy Pete.  He told me that he too had qualified for Boston, running a 3:15:24.  We hugged in celebration knowing that we would be able to toe the line together in Hopkinton this coming April.  Our attention quickly turned back to the finish line.  3 of us had started that day in pursuit of a BQ, and Brendan was still out there.  Although the clock had clicked over to 3:21, we knew that because Brendan and I had started as far back in the crowd as we had, he still had some wiggle room.  Unfortunately, Brendan ended up missing a BQ by 32 seconds.  The fact that he had PR’d by 5 minutes did not alleviate the frustration and disappointment.

After some pizza and ice cream, part of the Smuttynose dailymile/Twitter crew convened in the beer tent.

Mmmm, beer... - photo courtesy of Adamm9

Pete (from Runblogger.com) and I celebrate our BQ's.

After one or two, we went out to cheer our friends Alett and Sandra in.  We walk a few hundred feet down from the finish line with the intent of running Alett in.  As she approached, we tried to break into a jog.  It wasn’t happening.  Alett flew right by us.  We had left it all out there on the course.  With Alett and Sandra’s arrival it was back to the beer tent for one more.

The Smuttynose dailymile/Twitter crew, post-race

Finally it was time to go.  I told Pete I would see him in Boston.  As I walked back to my car with Doug and Brendan, I tried to come up with something encouraging.  Brendan has been a huge inspiration, not just to me, but to countless others on dailymile.  His BQ is coming, I am sure of it.

I am sure that I will run this race again someday.  It is sure to become a popular race for those trying to achieve their own BQ.  The nice thing is that with this race not only do I qualify for 2011, but I also qualify for 2012 as well.  I know where I’ll be in April.  For next fall there’s talk about trying out the Vermont 50.  We’ll see if there’s still interest next Spring.

In the meantime, I can now turn my eyes toward New York.  Having qualified for Boston, I can now approach New York as a celebration, as a fun run.  I intend to find as many friends in the crowd as I can and take pictures with each and every one of them.  So if you are going to be in New York for the marathon, let me know where you’ll be – I’ll come find you!

You can find Pete’s Race Report —>HERE<—

You can follow Adam’s running blog —>HERE<—

You can find Doug, his wife Lex and Lex’s Run —>HERE<—

and finally, you can follow Brendan’s inspiring training on dailymile —>HERE<— (honestly though, I wish he wrote a blog!)

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*BQ stands for Boston Qualifier – a dream for many runners.  In order run the Boston Marathon, a person is required (unless running for a charity or having the luck I had last year of stumbling across an invitational application) to run a previous marathon within a certain amount of time.  For me, that time is 3:20:59.  For my buddy Pete, that time is 3:15:59.

***

I need YOUR contributions to a project that I’m working on. Interested?

All you need to do is send me a paragraph or two telling me why you run and/ or why you think others should run. E-mail it to me at “runluaurun at gmail dot com” (written out so the bots don’t start sending me spam).

If you can, please include a picture of your favorite running shoes and tell me what kind of shoes they are. Also, please let me know how you would like to be referenced (real name, nickname, pseudonym, etc) just in case this project actually ever sees the light of day.

The more responses I get, the sooner I can put it all together, so please don’t be shy about forwarding this to your running friends and spreading the word.

Thanks!

Luau

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