Wednesday, October 31

Columbus Marathon 2007

Here are some photos from my recent 1/2 Marathon. The last one is my favorite.

Tuesday, October 30

Run to pain

Today's run was good and tough. Basically after a warm-up, I ran two miles at a 7:30 pace. 15 minutes. I had to fight the pain to keep going at the end and it was a mental workout as much as it was physical.

I did a couple of 40 minute tempo runs earlier this year while training for the marathon at 8:00 minute pace. I think that was almost too easy, but today's run on the treadmill was almost too hard. Somewhere in between. But it was good.

I guess all this work at running is part of the whole work in progress that is my fitness.

I'm running a half-marathon this weekend just to gauge my fitness. My dream is to finish in under 2 hours. We'll see how realistic that dream is.

Saturday, October 27

News-Leader racing team

Well, this was a good day for the News-Leader racing team.

MS placed first in his age group in the Halloween Hustle 10K. I think the fact that his moniker here is MS is reflected by the fact that there's absolutely no consensus on what his last name is or how it is pronounced. I think he should go by his wife's last name Tang. That gets mispronounced all the time too as if it were an orange-flavored drink, but not quite as butchered as the German name that MS received from his ancestors.
Rslight placed third in his age group in the 10K.
And I was third in my age group in the Halloween Hustle 5K. I didn't get a PR (was the course long? doesn't matter). Nowhere near it in fact. And I wanted to push through more pain than I did in this race so I have work to do. But I felt like I ran a good race. I made appropriate surges I felt to prevent myself from slowing down too much too soon.
And the fourth person in my age group finished four seconds behind me. I thought he was a lot further back. But this medal means a lot to me because I was pushing hard at the end, tried to push hard the whole race.
I don't feel like I'm in as good condition as when I set my PR back in June, but I'm happy with my effort today.

And I'm happy to see my friends do well too.

Friday, October 26


So, it's still really smoke-y around here. I went to the gym this morning to run, since there's no way I'm going to run outside, but got really, really bored on the treadmill. Usually I do intervals on the treadmill and then go lift weights, but I really wanted to just do a nice steady run today, but absolutely couldn't do it after about 2 miles... I kept bumping up the pace to make it more interesting and then, of course, couldn't go very far.

Hopefully, of course, the fires will go out soon and I will be back on the roads and paths. In the meantime, anyone have tricks for running inside?

Thursday, October 25

Poetry slam

Well, I came in second in the poetry slam. I thought I should have come in first, but unlike a race, a slam is judged by five randomly selected judges from the audience.

Um, ok, that's all I want to say about tonight's slam. It was a little bit different.

I should be asleep by now.

Wednesday, October 24

Double Trouble

I should run on the double ... I think I'm in trouble -- Lindsay Buckingham, Trouble

Aw, wow. I (rslight) am gone a week and we've got photos and cartoons I've never heard of filling this place. Cool.

I had fun at the Double Trouble races Saturday at beautiful Lake Grapevine in Texas. The slightly cold weather felt great as I finished the 5K with a decent time of 23:40. Unfortunately, a guy named Jimbo got my third-place age group medal by finishing less than 30 seconds ahead.
During the subsequent 10K, I was in close competition with 31-year-old Pam Neven, who is evidently a much loved Lake Grapevine runner. She and other female runners kept exchanging compliments on the course turnaround.
I fell a bit behind her on some hills around mile 3, but caught up when the terrain flattened. Some spectators started cheering for Pam to outrun me as we approached the finish chutes, and she did. I suppose that's the power of crowd support. However, I got a new 10K PR of 51:38.

On Sunday I ran a third weekend race called Waterworks 5K in Dallas, Texas. It went around White Rock Lake, which is even more gorgeous than Lake Grapevine.
There was a huge turnout and it was tough to get off to a fast start (imagine Springfield's Sunshine Run crowd starting on a path about the size of Sequiota Park's). There was a 25K going on at the same time, and most runners were doing that as a warm-up to the Dallas White Rock Marathon. I took it easy and finished in 26:36 (still good enough for a second-place age group medal).
My great-grandfather once lived by White Rock Lake and had a sailboat there. It was a great thrill to run in the park where he used to sail. I can barely wait to do the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon in December.

Make me the Giant

There's a poetry slam on Thursday. I think I'll call this poem, Halloween Costume.

Make me the giant.
Make me the jolly green giant.
Give me a smile, give me a laugh
give me muscles,
and give me a toga my lover can eat.

Give me a lover, maker her a woman
who can see, I have strength that can't be seen.

My problem is I turn sideways and I can't be seen.

I am skinny. I am scrawny. And all these girls I like
date men twice my size.

I am coming to grips with this.

I have come to grips with this.

I struggle to change. I struggle to grow.
I open my buds and I know I will grow.

I ate more double whoppers, double quarter pounders with cheese and monster thickburgers than I could count. The weight of all that meat adds up to three times my weight.

Once in Amarillo, Texas I had a 72 ounce steak, a baked potato and some corn. I ate it all in 48 minutes. The meal was free but it didn't pack a pound on me.

Make me huge, make me large.

Every woman I see wants a man twice as big as me.

And they tell me that men don't have body image issues.

Kermit says it's not easy being green.
But it's not easy being me.
And I think it's just tough to be a frog.
Blending in with the lilly pads.
And I don't want to blend in anymore.
I don't want to be overlooked and pushed around
and joked about.

Ho, ho, ho.
I want to laugh with somebody, not be laughed at by everybody.
I want to grow in the sunshine.
I want to feel the rain on my naked body.
I want to be free and rooted in the ground.
I want to be the giant.

Make me the jolly green giant.

I want to be the big man in the toga with green hair.
Saying Ho Ho Ho.

And can I get a voice box with the costume.

I am your father Luke.
Eat the brussels sprouts. Eat the broccoli.
Eat the green beans. Eat the spinach.

Once, while talking about visiting a friend in California,
I said I'd be the poet on the beach.
I'd be the skinny guy with a pen and a notebook
writing poems about asparagus and hollandaise sauce.

Make me the giant, the jolly green giant.
When I was younger, I always thought I'd grow up to be bigger.
But nothing works but my imagination.
So I'm becoming a creation
of my own choosing.
The harvest is now.
I am becoming the one that I'm been waiting for.
Greater than the great pumpkin,
I know that I'm something,
I know that I'm someone.
Skinny or scrawny,
laughed at or ignored.
I'm somebody and I've got a voice
and a backbone strong as Jack's magic beanstalk.

But if you would,
if you could,
for one night,
make me the giant.
Make me the jolly green giant.

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What does Rob Brezsny know?

Here's my horoscope for the week of Oct. 25 through Nov. 2

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Writing in the *L.A. Times,* Rosa Brooks
bemoaned the budgetary cuts that have caused the mass firings of
reporters at many major newspapers. This sad development means there
are "fewer persistent, nosy people with a mandate to wander around the
world asking questions." Whatever you do in the coming weeks cannot
single-handedly fix this problem, of course. But it will be your
astrological mandate to be a persistent, nosy person wandering around asking
questions. Halloween costume suggestions: journalist, spy, muckraker,

In other words, I'm just supposed to do my thing.

Monday, October 22

Detroit tales

There was a nice collection of stories in a Detroit Newspaper today about runners in the Detroit Marathon.
Here's how the assemblage starts off:
"Jill Sherman-Marx, 39, of Farmington Hills stood out in the crowd on Sunday. She ran the 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) in a Supergirl costume."
Great lede.

ain't it the truth

different orange glow

Sun rising over the hill this morning:

You can see some normal-ish sky up north.

I've been checking this website to keep tabs on the fire. They say it's about 5% contained now, although the wind is supposed to pick up a little today.

Wadding the paper towels into the cracks around my bedroom window was a fantastic idea--when I came out of my room this morning, the rest of the apartment smelled like smoke. A brighter idea would have been to have gone ahead and sealed off the rest of the apartment, but I was feeling so sick by then that I didn't want to. My room does, unfortunately, smell rather like my basket of dirty laundry... and I did work out a lot last week. :P

[EDIT: Sorry, I meant to post this somewhere else. But here you can see the pictures of why I'm skipping my run this morning. It'd be like cramming six months of smoking into one day.]


Sunday, October 21

A New World Record! (or not)

Flat courses and cool temperatures make for good races. According to the map tracker for the Columbus Marathon, my pace during the race was 3 minutes 48 seconds. Eat your heart out, Pre!

Except you'll notice that there's no time for the 20 mile split. Rosie Ruiz I'm not. It's just that I ran the half-marathon, but with the two finish lines being the same, the tracker got a bit confused. For a more accurate assessment of my performance, you can check out the official race results.

In case the link is giving you trouble, what with all the people checking the website, I'm happy to report that I have a new half-marathon PR. By quite a bit, actually.

I was worried that my times had reached a plateau, but if they keep dropping, I may even be able to qualify for Boston.

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Thursday, October 18


(Sorry, I couldn't get to the larger version of everyone's picture.)

The formatting is enclosed in carets <> and is
img src=""

Make sure that the url is for the photo only--not the photo and other text.

Face of the struggle

I thought about titling this post what pain looks like.

Here's a link to photos of me and MS in the Twin Cities Marathon.

Sorry I don't know how to do the coding and all to just put the pictures on this page. Hopefully the links will work for you.

---- updating ----

Here's a picture of Rslight in Chicago OK, the Chicago link doesn't work. They say The MarathonFoto order pages are generated dynamically and do not work well if accessed from a bookmark. We apologize for any inconvenience. But if you want to search for Rslight, his last name is slight and his bib number was 11155.

Here's a link to pictures of Pam in Portland. Pam looks focused.

Congrats to my friend

Dedicated blog readers have heard plenty about my trip to Camp Marafiki in Santa Fe. Marafiki is Kenyan for friends and one of my friends, Jonathan Ndambuki was running the Twin Cities Marathon with hopes of winning. I beat him to the finish line. Seriously. He droppped out of the race. Another friend from Santa Fe, Joseph Mutinada, came insecond.

Anyhow, here's a nice story from about how Jonathan rebounded.

Denver Marathon - Oct 14 - Denver, CO
Jonathan Ndambuki started the Twin Cities Marathon one week before the Denver Marathon, but dropped out at mile 11 due to foot issues. Disappointed by his need to drop out, the 31 year-old Kenyan looked for another marathon and just five days before the race chose the Denver Marathon. The choice was a good one as Ndambuki ran his fastest time of the year - a 2:21:34 - to win the second annual Denver Marathon. The race was Ndambuki's fourth marathon of 2007 and followed a victory at the 2007 Deseret Marathon and third place at the 2007 Grandma's Marathon. Charles Kiplagat and Arevalo Reyes Alfredo ran with Ndambuki until the final two miles of the course, before each dropped back with Kiplagat taking the second spot in 2:21:47 and Reyes finishing third in 2:22:36.

Wednesday, October 17

Rslight and Jo Dee

Beatin' time is a losin' fight -- Jo Dee Messina, I'm Alright

You can read country singer Jo Dee Messina's account of the 2007 Chicago Marathon at Considering she finished just 14 minutes ahead of me (rslight), our experiences seem very similar.

I'm off to play in Texas, where I'll run the delightful Double Trouble races in Grapevine (5K immediately followed by a 10K,
I'm confident you all will behave yourselves in my absence.


I finally looked at the official results from the marathon. 4:56:38. It was 13 seconds faster than my first marathon, which I finished in 4:56:51.


It was also quite a bit hotter than my first marathon. South Bend in June, Minnesota in October. Who knew?

Anyway, I am forgetting a lot about this race. It happened, but I just don't want to dwell on it. I want to focus on getting faster.

Tuesday, October 16


Here's a quote from the Hal Higdon post-marathon training plan I linked to a couple of posts back:
Are you caught up with your rest? Before the marathon I told you to make certain that you went into the race well rested. Running 26 miles 385 yards also can serve as an energy drain. Particularly the first several days after the marathon, you may feel you need several hours more of sleep a night. And you do! But you may remain sleep-deprived for longer than several days, maybe even several weeks. So don't schedule any all-night Friday parties yet.

I have been so tired lately. Much more so than after my first two marathons. Perhaps that's because of the heat. Perhaps it's because I immediately hopped on a plane and went to a conference. Perhaps because the conference was so packed with informative and mentally taxing sessions.

I've just been exhausted though. This is a lesson. In the future, marathons need more rest planned after them. They need to be vacations, at least for me.

Also, we should plan a party. Maybe not an all-night party, but still a party. My apartment is kind of small and not really suited to that sort of thing, but maybe someone with a house...

Sunday, October 14

Saturday, October 13

Settling In

Though I'm only about 25% unpacked from my move to Columbus, I have managed to get my priorities straightened out: I got in an 11-1/2 mile run this afternoon, my longest since the Vegas Marathon in 2005.
I was a bit worried about running the Columbus 1/2 Marathon next weekend, so the run today was really just to make sure that I could still handle that distance. My pace was a little bit more erratic than I would have liked, but it was still respectable overall. Running past the 'Shoe (Ohio State's football stadium) while there was a game going on was quite interesting. I could hear the stadium's announcer for several miles, even when the stadium was completely out of sight. The crowd was apparently pretty tame, though. I guess it wasn't worth getting all worked up when you're beating up on the other team by 40-some-odd points. There were also hundreds of tailgaters scattered throughout all of the parking lots along the route--fortunately, they were staying off the sidewalks for the most part. Since the game was already underway, the crowds were a lot more manageable than they otherwise could have been.

Other parts of the run were really nice too. Running along the Olentangy River reminded me a bit of Back Bay. I'm looking forward to getting farther along the path beside the river in the future--I read somewhere it's supposed to be at least 14 miles long, which should mean lots of different scenery along the way.
There were a good number of other runners out as well, and my route was circuitous enough that I encountered the same people several times. I wonder if the running population will drop off precipitously after the marathon next week. Even if it doesn't in the next few months we'll all have to find some way of running in zero degrees and a foot of snow. Any suggestions?

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First post-marathon run

Well, today I ran three miles. And I went to the grocery store. I should have gone to the grocery store a long time ago. I was running on empty.
Still, it was a pretty good run, besides dodging spider webs and low hanging tree branches. Still, I prefer that to dodging cars and giving the finger to people who honk at me.
Today's run was at the Sac River Trails, one of my favorite places to go and as far as I know the closest unpaved trails to my apartment.
MS and I are planning to run next weekend (eight days from this moment in which I am typing) at Busiek State Forest. Would you like to join us? It will be a great hilly workout and the unpaved trails will work the obliques and stabilizer muscles a bit too.
By the way, congrats to everybody who took on the Sunshine Run.

Friday, October 12


For what it's worth, I think it's almost impossible to start too slow in a marathon. It seems completely counter-intuitive, but you really can't "bank-time," and trying to will kill the end of your race. I've heard that every 1 second per mile too fast you run the first half of a race turns into 2-4 seconds per mile too slow in the second half of the race. The longer the race, the greater the slowing.

Here's my own example: I wanted to finish the Portland marathon in 3:50--an 8:47 pace--so I ran with the 3:50 pace group. Unfortunately the pace leader took us out too fast. At 10K we were at an 8:27 pace; at 9.1 miles we were at an 8:33 pace; at the half we were at an 8:42 pace; at 20 miles we were at 8:45; and at 21 miles, my legs defied my brain by deciding to walk. I managed to get running again, but had to take another walk break at 23 miles, finally finishing in 3:55--an 8:58 pace. I'm convinced I could've finished faster if I hadn't used up all my reserves with the quick start. My mistake was not being confident enough to drop back and let the pace group go as soon as I realized we were running too fast.

That said, I still had a PR. I did qualify for Boston in 2009. And I was fortunate enough not to have gotten my entry in early enough to get into Chicago.

Asics - phrase of the day

After the marathon, my shoes were shot. The rubber on the bottom was completely worn away. I didn't realize they were that far gone.
So all I have for running right now is a pair of trail shoes. And I think it might be nice to go out to a trail to run on, maybe tomorrow or later today depending on when I leave work.
Anyhow, instead of just picking up what they had at the running store, I ordered some shoes from Amazon. We'll see how this goes.
I ordered a pair of Asics, the first running shoes I bought once I got started and the shoes I ran my first marathon in. I've tried the rest...
Anyhow, I found a fascinating story today with a phrase about how Asics got started and where the name comes from.
The name, an acronym, derives from “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”, a Latin phrase expressing the ancient ideal of “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.
I think I like them even more now.

Thursday, October 11

Is smaller better?

There's a fascinating post at a Chicago Tribune blog about fitness. Quite a few posts recently on the Chicago Tribune.

The blog in question by Julie Deardorff compares the Chicago Marathon to the Milwaukee Marathon, which also happened last weekend. However Chicago had tens of thousands more people.

The lead of Deardorrf's post captures her theme: "Back in April, when registration for the Chicago Marathon closed six months before the actual race date, I wrote that the field was too crowded and it ruined the race."

While the Twin Cities weren't as crowded as Chicago, they were more crowded than Milwaukee. Probably the most crowded race I've run. Ironically, I didn't talk to any of the other runners where in the past I did strike up periodic conversations with people.

Do you prefer larger marthons or smaller ones? A less crowded would be preferable to me next time.

Wednesday, October 10

Post Marathon plans

Link to post-marathon recovery training plan from Hal Higdon.

Marathon Results

It seems like everyone who ran a marathon this past weekend has some reason to be disappointed. All that training, foiled by the weather.

For what it's worth, I'm still impressed with you guys. Maybe 1 in every 6 marathon runners were running a marathon last weekend, but that's nowhere near 1 in 6 people. I tried running 5 miles in Ohio on Monday, and ended up taking walking breaks because the heat and humidity were so bad (that, and my training is all about running in the cool California mornings in the dry California air).

So kudos to all y'all for your dedication and perseverance.

Training Logs

I started using a training log in 2006, after one came with my new subscription to Runner's World. Around that time, I also started calculating the mileage of my routes using the g-map pedometer. Sometime around the end of 2006, I started using to map my routes, since that site would save my routes. The advantages are that sanoodi will calculate your pace, and calculate your mileage for the week (this feature sometimes doesn't work properly). If you run with a friend who also uses sanoodi, only one of you needs to map it--the other one can just take that route and his/her own. If I had a GPS, I'd be able to upload information about my runs from it. I like sanoodi, especially the friends function, but the site tends to be pretty slow about fixing any problems it has, so I've been wondering if there are better sites.

Do other people on this blog use on-line training logs like this? Which ones do you use? Why do you like them?


Marathon thoughts, random marathon thoughts

I feel like I should post something about my Minnesota marathon experience.

I've had a lot of thoughts. The most uniquely mine, I suppose, is did I go out too slow? I won't get into the logic of that. Not today at least.

Shortly after finishing the marathon, I hopped on a place to a journalism conference in Philadelphia. I made the decision not to have any connecting flights and that was smart. Too bad there are no direct flights from Philadelphia to Springfield.

I'm not going to complain about air travel, but today was one day when I thought that perhaps however much it might have cost for first class would have been worth it.


Anyway, I suppose the heat bothered me on Sunday. It bothered everybody. I can be thankful I wasn't in Chicago.

I know this is crazy, but I want to go out much faster and more confident in my next race. I was confident on Sunday, but I heard someone near me at the beginning talk about how dangerous it is to get pulled into starting too fast. And I just can't help but wonder if I did the opposite and started way too slow. Perhaps this is madness and I'm still exhausted after a very tiring, but good, conference in Philadelphia.

I am glad that I didn't waste energy trying to dodge people and making a lot of lateral moves trying to open up my stride early on. The plan was to run a strong first half and a stronger second half. But it got way too hot for that. I ended up walking through water stations and dousing myself with water. Four or five cups of water on my head.

I remember at one spot shortly before crossing the Mississippi, some folks were passing out cold beer. That's crazy.

I remember feeling a little light-headed at one point early on as I heard a band playing Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel and remembering Notre Dame. Was that euphoria or was that a warning sign that it was getting way too hot?

I guess now it's back to the drawing board. My legs are still a bit sore. I definitely need to rest.

Tuesday, October 9

"Marathon Meltdown"

Hot in the City -- Billy Idol

It seemed like a perfect day when I (rslight) was surrounded by thousands at Sunday's Chicago Marathon start in Grant Park. Although the temperature was 73 degrees and humid, I felt a sweet breeze.
I proudly had my hand over my heart for Jo Dee Messina's gorgeous version of the National Anthem, even though I couldn't see her through the crowd. I happily clapped my hands as Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" blared on the speakers.

The first 13.1 miles were pure delight. The spectator crowd was massive, energetic and entertaining.
I felt inspired by a woman displaying a quote from Joshua chapter 1: Be strong and courageous.
I loved the Cubs fan near Wrigley Field with the sign: "Cubs tickets available for game four. Dirt cheap!" (Cubs lost the final third game of a series the day before.)
I laughed when the gay guys in Boystown waved the sign: "Run, bitches, run!"
I loved it when a runner dressed as Spiderman passed me, and then I passed another dressed as Yoda from Star Wars. (Yoda just can't catch me.)

I pumped my fist when I reached the halfway mark because I felt great and was anxious for a strong second half. I was well under 2 hours and 30 minutes, which was good for me.
However, the temperature kept increasing. It reached 88 degrees.
At mile 16 I ran past a medical tent with about 30 runners spread out on cots. A couple clutched their stomachs and screamed in agony. I quickly looked away and told myself I wouldn't be joining them.
At mile 18, as I was slowing to a light jog, a Chicago policeman shouted: "Stop running! Stop running! The marathon is cancelled!"
Everyone started walking. A volunteer said the race was over, and we could either walk to the finish line or get transportation back to Grant Park at the next aid station.

I was stunned and devastated. My dream was dead. All the months of training were for nothing. I felt like an utter failure.
I glumly plodded into Chinatown around mile 21 in a daze. The dragon dancers performed a beautiful dance to the "Chariots of Fire" theme, but I was too depressed to appreciate it.
An older male runner noticed I was distraught and asked if I was okay.
"I can't believe my first marathon is ending this way. I tried so hard," I said sadly.
"Son, I've done more than 50 marathons. This one is easily the worst. Could you believe all the people just walking through those water stations? Unreal," he said.
We talked about other crazy marathons he had done as we walked along. He was very comforting.
His final encouraging words: "Just treat this event as a training run. You'll come back stronger for a better marathon."

At mile 24, a miracle happened. It was announced that those of us remaining on the course would still get a medal and be timed.
I was filled with hope. The clock read 5 hours and 30 minutes. I could still finish under 6 hours and 30 minutes to get an official time.
Then I had a sudden spiritual experience. You will think I'm crazy, but I honestly felt an unseen hand touch my back and heard a gentle voice say: "Go on and get your medal."
I had a spring in my step. I sped up my pace. Chicago police said not to run, but they hadn't mentioned anything about walking fast.

I saw the distant finish line as I scrambled up a Randolph Street incline with sweat pouring down my face. I paused to blow a kiss skyward to my mother. Then I took off on a wild sprint.
Since everyone else was just walking, the crowd seemed to love it. I had my name on my shirt, and a few people were chanting it.
I had a final chiptime of 5:59:48. (About 14 minutes behind Jo Dee.)
As a woman placed a medal around my neck, I started to sob. Volunteers didn't seem to notice. It was like it was perfectly normal for a marathon finisher to burst into tears.

The Chicago media declared the Chicago Marathon a total disaster. Race officials were blamed for not having enough water on the course.
Chicago Sun Times headline: "Marathon Meltdown."
Chicago Tribune headline: "Marathon Maelstrom."

There were 45,000 people registered for the marathon, but only 36,000 showed up at the start line. Fewer than 25,000 finished.
Unfortunately, one runner died and hundreds required medical attention.

I will never forget this race.

By the way, the medal is beautiful.

Sunday, October 7


The main article on the front page of the New York Times, as I type this:

Death, Havoc and Heat Mar Chicago Race

CHICAGO, Oct. 7 — As temperatures soared into the upper 80s, hundreds of runners in the Chicago marathon fell ill and at least one died on Sunday, prompting officials here to halt the annual race for the first time in its 30-year history.

As runners set off at 8 a.m., temperatures were in the 70s — warm for a fall day in Chicago but not unheard of — and organizers said they had anticipated a normal race day. But as the morning went on, temperatures kept rising, and calls began pouring in: Some runners were telephoning 911; others were flooding into the 15 aid stations along the course; still more were reporting that there was not enough water or Gatorade or even cups along the course.

By 11:30 a.m., race officials, who were consulting with city fire officials, medical experts and the police, stopped the run, setting off waves of confusion and chaos in some parts of the course.


In marathoning, there's a lot of things you can control: your training, your effort, your pace, your diet. And there's one thing you really can't control: the weather. When I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon back in May and roped bl into doing the same, I had visions of running 26.2 on a crisp autumn Minnesota morning as the falling leaves swirled around us.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

The weather outlook got increasingly grim all week, but at least every forecast was consistent that Sunday would be cloudy. Which is, of course, why there was hardly a cloud in the sky as they told us, a few minutes before the race, that it was already 75 degrees with about 80% humidity. "It's the warmest start we've had in the 26-year history of the marathon!" And the sun hadn't even risen yet. Fantastic.

I've always struggled in the combination of heat and humidity, and I figured that my goal of 3 hours even was probably already off the table. That was adjustment number one. But I started out pretty well anyway, and cruised through the first half in 1:32 and feeling all right, with copious amounts of fluid consumption at every aid station and numerous cups of water dumped on my head. (So much so, in fact, that around mile 8 I could feel water sloshing around in my socks. I have some pretty interesting-colored toenails and blisters that I think are the byproduct of that.)

But it seems that no matter what precautions I took, the heat had the edge today. Around mile 16 the wheels came off - I had a side stitch on both sides of my torso, apparently from drinking too much water/Powerade. Yet at the same time I was getting light-headed and a little dizzy, which is a red-alert danger sign of overheating. As the sun got higher in the sky, the shade that had kept us cool early on was disappearing. It was at that point that I made the executive decision that my time no longer mattered and that priority number one was simply getting to the finish line intact. Adjustment number two.

Long story short, I death-marched through the last ten miles walking through aid stations, pausing where thoughtful Minnesotans had garden sprayers pointed into the street, and coasted across the finish line in 3:28, far slower than my two marathons earlier this year. The heat was clearly taking its toll on the course as all around me people slowed to walk or even just stopped completely and doubled over, and the last ten miles virtually every course doctor I saw was attending to someone in trouble.

I think every marathon is a learning experience, and today I definitely learned a few things. It's cliche to say "listen to your body", but had I ignored the warning signs and kept on pushing the pace, I probably would have been one of the people I saw in the finish area being carted off in wheelchairs - assuming I finished at all.

On the plus side, this marathon bills itself as "America's most beautiful urban marathon", and they definitely can make an argument for that. I was also amazed that literally every last stretch of the course was lined with cheering spectators shouting encouragement, and at some stretches towards the end it seemed like they were even two or three deep. This is a marathon that I wouldn't hesitate to run again - if I can get a written guarantee of a 50-degree fall day in advance.

More Updates

So I guess several people are tracking the runners today...

I see that rslight has passed the halfway mark, and his pace has only slowed by a couple of seconds.

As for me, since my last post (about 20 minutes ago), I signed up for the Columbus Half Marathon. I'd have done the full Marathon, but since my taper would need to start today (the race is in two weeks), I don't think that's a good idea. I can definitely be ready for a full Marathon by March, though.


At this time, rlight, bl and MS are in Chicago and Minneapolis, running their marathons. MS apparently slowed down after the half-point is estimated to finish with 3:17. RSLIGHT is doing great, too, completing half-marathon about two hours and 12 minutes, and bl is just a few minutes ahead.

Cheers to all three runners!

Marathon Update

At the 15K mark, rslight is on pace for a 4:45 finish, and at the halfway mark, bl is on pace to finish in under 4:20. Though, of course, that doesn't take into account the chip time, which could be significantly smaller than the course time (I think it took rslight about 15 min to start). Both look to be keeping a very consistent pace. Hopefully the two of them are keeping cool on the course. Chicago looks to be a bit warmer right now, but neither really has ideal conditions.

I think I'm inspired to find another marathon to run...

Saturday, October 6

The marathon is tomorrow

Well, the marathon is tomorrow. I'm feeling good, a little nervous. It's hot here, hot for Minnesota in October. No matter, I'm excited. Here's a quote from the race website:

We're expecting warmer than usual temperatures and more humidity on Sunday. Risk to runners does increase with warmer weather. Plan to adjust your pace. The humidity and heat will require more of your body so a slower than planned pace is recommended in order to get you to the finish line without overheating.
Pay attention to hydration. Drink if you're thirsty but be aware of over-hydration. If you haven't been feeling well or have been ill in the last week, don't start the race. Seek medical personnel in orange vests along the course and at the finish if you are concerned or are experiencing difficulty.

I'd kind of enjoy a four-hour rainstorm, but we'll see how it goes. You get to this point with a certain amount of determination. Also, a certain amount of happiness just to have made it this far.

Thursday, October 4

Quote of the day

By all the gods that Romans bow before,
I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome!
Brave son, derived from honourable loins!
Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured up
My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible;
-From William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

As I type this, there are two days, 23 hours and 30-some minutes until the race.

I read on that one in six marathoners will be running a marathon this weekend. And I am one of them.

Wednesday, October 3

Chicago bound

History starts now -- Five for Fighting, World

Within the next hour, I (rslight) am off to Chicago.

John "The Penguin" Bingham says some people couldn't even see a starting line from where they were in their lives.
As you all know, I was born with spinal meningitis and spent the initial weeks of my life in intensive care. Dallas doctors said I would not live to be six months old. I stopped breathing at times, and they said my lungs were too weak to live.

Although I survived, I suffered from scoliosis that gave me back pain whenever I tried to run. Other children routinely mocked me for my inability to run. It was especially bad for me when my elementary school participated in relay races against other schools. Other kids strongly advocated my exclusion from the team.
I overheard one boy tell the coach: "Please don't make us run with (rslight). He's just going to embarrass everybody."
On race day, they loaned me to another school that wasn't as good. Everyone got a nice medal except me. I bowed my head in shame. I never tried running after that, although I sometimes dreamed about what it would be like.

During my 20s, I started weight lifting as one of several efforts to impress a young woman. At first I worried about hurting my back, but I discovered the opposite happen. Weight lifting actually strengthened my back, and alleviated much of my back pain.

Last year, at age 30, I found myself speaking with St. John's Hospital officials about the 2006 Sunshine Run 5K and 10K in Springfield. Knowing nothing about running, I'm sure I asked a couple of ignorant questions, such as: Is it a hard race?
"Well, it depends on your experience," one official said. "Of course, we've done the Chicago Marathon, so it wasn't tough for us."
The official mentioned this marathon thing like it was some snobby, elitist activity.
Debbie Mikkelson, who heads the burn unit, suggested that I actually participate in the Sunshine Run. I laughed. The thought that I could run three miles was comical. She apparently saw my disbelief, and quickly added: "Or, you could volunteer too."
I'm a huge baseball fan, and the thought of a race going through a minor league ballpark was exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I felt it would be worth looking foolish to do it.
A month before the 5K, I practiced walking three miles just to assure myself that I could at least do that. Then I practiced jogging the distance.

I was very nervous when the Sunshine Run started, but to my delight I was able to jog the whole thing in 33 minutes without stopping. It was heartening to see bl cheering us on at the halfway mark prior to his 10K, even though he was the only spectator.
I felt so great after crossing the finish line that I decided at that moment I wanted to run a marathon. I could even do this snobbish Chicago marathon.
My first step in marathon training was to figure out what a marathon was. This entailed purchasing a marathon book. When I saw the distance was 26.2 miles, I nearly fainted. I decided to spend some time running 5Ks, and then races with increasingly longer distances.

Dozens of races and personal records later, I'm about to run the big one in the Windy City. Or Second City, or whatever folks there like to be called. I'll be wishing bl and ms their best race ever in the Twin Cities.
I'm dedicating my first marathon to my mother. She was a beauty queen who died of cancer as a young woman many years ago.


So after my track workout yesterday, I got this message. It's mental. It's all mental. What's preventing me from running faster at almost all distances is my mind.

I won't get into track splits or that minutiae today. Suffice to say that what I did shows that I can run faster than I have been running.

On another note, some quotes from Edmund Hillary:

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

"You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things – to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated.”

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”

Quote of the moment

Feet are stronger than an engine and dreams are stronger than sighs. - Anis Mojgani

Or is that a misheard quote. Not quite sure. Did he say dreams are stronger than thighs? Not quite sure.

shake the dust

Tuesday, October 2

Thing called life

Interesing column by Richard Cohen in The Washington Post today about the collossal collapse of the New York Mets.

Here's an excerpt:
What was happening to the Mets was called life, and it was good that kids were watching. They could learn from it. Victory teaches nothing. Defeat teaches everything.

I am no longer a fan of any team in any sport. The fan is a fool, a sucker, as much a mark as a drunk who flashes cash in a bar. The fan loves the team, but the team does not love him. The team merely loves the fan's money and when the time comes, it will roll up trucks to the ballpark and take off for another city in the middle of the night. A coldhearted lover will sometimes leave a note. A team never will.

Just as long as there's never any football team called the New England Steelers or the Miami Steelers or the Golden State Steelers or anything like that. I have faith that that won't happen.

Monday, October 1


I got the most recent issue of Runner's World today. On the back page, there's a fellow Notre Dame alumnus. And not only that, but a Notre Dame alumnus who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the city where I will run my third marathon. Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.

"I was the first active NFL player to complete a marathon. My first one, in 1979 in Duluth, was one of those days when you promise yourself that if you ever get done, you'll never do one again."

Page finished in 3:57:39, a time I've dreamt about. I'd link to the interview, except it doesn't seem to be online yet.

Here's another great quote:

"I'm a runner. I'm no longer a football player. I tend not to be one who looks back."

Marathon Sunday gets closer and closer.