Lincoln Marathon and Half Marathon. Done.

This last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting my brother in Lincoln, Nebraska, as we finished a months-long plan to run the Lincoln Marathon. (I would run the half. He would run the full marathon.) Mom and my little sister came along to cheer us on, so I got to see them as well. My brother and his girlfriend (who is a lovely young woman, by the way) hosted me in their apartment.

It was nice to see them all.

Alright, so the day was very gloomy. There was a lot of rain along the way, from heavy mist to a quick-but-intense downpour. My brother lined up to run in the 8-minute mile group while I lined up at the very back of the pack, where I always line up. That way, I will always be catching up to people, especially the walkers.

It took a good half hour for me to get to the starting line, but, once I got there, I started running at a good clip (about 12-minute miles, which is fast for me) for the first half mile. Then I slowed down to a jog/walk. I would repeat this until mile number ten. That was my strategy. I wasn’t going to run myself out the whole way. I was there for fun.

Except that mile number nine had a big hill in it, and the road was a little worn out. So I managed to twist my left ankle a bit. From there to mile 11, I walked more than I jogged. It was around that time that my brother’s girlfriend notified us via instant messenger that he was a couple of miles away from finishing, so I decided to turn on the afterburners. I ended up finishing strong.

The course was nice and flat for most of the time, except between miles nine and eleven. Then it’s a big of an upward push, which, at that distance, you feel like it’s more inclined than it really is. The rain and the low temperatures actually helped a little bit by keeping us cool. If it were a little bit warmer, and just as humid, it would have been intolerable to run this race.

All in all, it was a good run. I’m very proud of my brother for achieving his first full marathon, and I’m proud of myself for finishing really strong… Even if I did end up waking up that night with an intense pain in my foot which may or may not be a stress fracture. (I’ll heal soon enough.)


Races of days past

I started running back in 2002, and I’ve run a lot of races. Here are some pictures from the past races I’ve been in. The most fun ones were, by far, the ones I’ve run with my brother. Our back-and-forth banter during the race makes it very enjoyable, making the pain less and the suffering none. Here are some pictures of those races.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
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Rocky Gap Adventure Race, May 20, 2006 – PART TWO

One Thousand Feet, straight up. Well, it wasn’t exactly STRAIGHT up. But, when you factor the weight of the bikes, and the fact that the thousand feet came in about a quarter to a half a mile, then you have a very steep climb. This, my friends, was “The Great Equalizer”, “The Widow Maker”, “The Son of A Bitch!”

Being much lighter than his older brother, my younger brother was a ways ahead of me on the climb. He kept looking back, updating me on what was ahead. He kept encouraging me to keep going, and I did… But I was a little frustrated, as you can see…

I made a deal with God. If He got me over this climb, then I would give up Twinkies, and any junk food that comes out of a vending machine. That’s a heck of a promise, if you know me. Of course, I wasn’t going to be foolish enough to promise to give up cake. That’s crazy. But I can do without junk food in the form of processed candy (which are at least 30% fat by weight… Like me).

Still, at the top of the climb, I was feeling pretty spent. I had only had a modest breakfast before heading out to the park, so my sugar was probably low. The photographer, who took some great pictures you can see HERE, opened his backpack to reveal a bag of Chips Ahoy Cookies. The moment I put the first one in my mouth, Angels started singing. Remember my post about hunger? Yeah…

Thank you for the cookies, man! You really saved my life… Well, not really, but damn near close.

The rest of the race was also demanding, so much so that I forgot to take pictures. But here’s a rundown of what happened:

-The kid and I screamed our way to the bottom of the mountain we had just climbed, sometimes reaching 35 mph (as per my calculations).
-We did NOT skip checkpoint #7, like two teams did.
-We kayaked way better on the second leg of the kayaking… WAY better.
-We found checkpoint #10, so we did not have to take the 2hr time penalty, like a couple of teams did.
-We ate some cold pizza around checkpoint #11, like I wrote about. It really, truly was the best pizza ever.
-We reached the bikes again to finish the race (checkpoint #12), and my quads were cramping something awful.
-We finished strong, beating two teams, one solo, and about five teams and three solos that did not finish. Not bad for first-timers, huh?

I’d like to thank the folks at EX2 Adventure Racing, and Will Ramos Photography. And let’s not forget to thank my kid brother and that for being inspirations for this one fat guy (me) to attempt and complete this race…

“Done. Done. On to the next one. Done. I’m done, and I’m onto the next!” – Foo Fighters, All My Life

Rocky Gap Adventure Race, May 20, 2006 – PART ONE

A few weeks ago, a girl I fancy mentioned to me that she and a couple of friends were going to run an adventure race near where I live. I checked it out on the Internet, and it looked like a good way to kick-off the summer with my kid brother. So we signed up to run the race too. And we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into…

But we were pretty confident before the race. The kid was all decked out in an adventure race backpack, cycling gloves, and our “team” shirts that read “MEXICO” on the front.

Of course, I was also confident, decked out in the similar gear, giving an “East Coast” sign.

And then there was the reason why I was running this… that girl. It’s not so much that I wanted to impress her, though I am sure that had something to do with what we were about to do. It’s just that I’ve been not “living” much because of school and work. I hoped this race would wake me up again from the slumber I’ve been, physically, since the Baltimore Marathon. And it did. I felt alive.

So the race got started, and the kid and I were way behind. We had never kayaked before, so we were flipping backwards in the water, and generally slow. You’ve all read the story about the water, so I’ll spare you the details again… And then there was the climb…

(Continued on PART II)