My First Marathon - Play Hard Have Fun

My First Marathon

Sightseeing One Step At A Time

So I have done 63 of them so far and I can tell you that I only expected to complete one if that many.  I have vivid memories of watching the NYC marathon on TV at a young age.  I do not remember the masses just the lead runners.  It did not amaze me as it does now at how fast they were running.  It was more of how long they were able to run.

I remember laying on my bed watching from beginning to end.  It was strange that I could get up and come back and they would still be running.  It was not the mileage it was the shear time it took.  It was also about the different sceneries in the background and the description of each by the announcer.  It was also the strategies  of the runners.  The cat and mouse to see who could out last who.

The scenery and the cat and mouse are the two things that keep me coming back to running marathons.  Everyone gets to start and almost everyone finishes.  Sometimes it is a great experience and other times you have to wonder why you continue that day and why one would ever do it more than once.

Bragging rights has a lot to do with it.  Not many people that I know have completed even one and the stories I am able to tell about each experience makes it all worth it.  You get to go places only people think about.  One day they will go to Iceland but at the same time why would they or why would I for that matter if it was not for the marathon.

New York was my first. How it came about was by chance and at the same time I had a lot to prove to others and myself.  Could I live out my dream of being there.  Not as a top athletes as I watched on TV but as me watching myself on my bed run in the area where I grew up.  Bring back all those childhood memories.

Going through a  separation I need something to grasp hold of to keep my mind on track and not obsess over the current situation.  It forced me to keep a disciplined lifestyle.

It started back with a nine mile race in Louisville ky.  Long time friend, Larry Parker was going to do the triple crown of races. 5k then the nine miler followed by the all famous mini marathon.  He had a scheduling conflict and with similar last names he asked me to run it for him.  I don’t think I had ever run a mile with out stopping let alone a 9 miler but I was willing to give it a try.

I ran or should I say I was on the cross country team in high school.  I was always in the last heat and remember hating the sport.  My cousin, Richard was on the team so I gave it a try.  I still remember the sore legs walking home after practice.  I also did high hurdles but there to I was in the last heat or did not get to run at all depending on how many participants there were from other schools.

As an adult I did play sports but again not very well.  That would include basketball.  The last time I played that sport was in a church league where someone tried to steal the ball but instead cut my cheek with his finger.  I can still remember seeing it coming towards my eye and in a flash I thought I don’t need this.  I also played some indoor soccer.  I was a goalie on an adult coed league team.  Mostly we drank beer after the games but as always I had my last game after an injury to my back.  I Went up for a ball with my head and someone under cut me and ended up on my back.  Once again I thought to myself I don’t need this.  The usual soft ball but the one sport I have fallen in love with is running.

Kind of Ironic that even though I have no injuries with the sport I am now looking at a heart murmur problem that, in my mind, might have been caused by the many marathons.  I can not find anything written to that effect but as I said it is ironic.

Back to me running my first road race as an adult.  The training for it was somewhat scarce since I did not have much lead time but I will get out my old journals and jot down what I can come up with on my training program. 

Before that I would like to explore the other reason I got involved in doing this race.  I was trying to impress Catherine Popp.  We had just recently met and she had told me all the stories of her travels and running marathons.  I found it intriguing and I remember once making a comment that the only way I would run that distance if and only if a bear was chasing me.  We still joke about that line and in turn she still feels that the only reason I ran my first marathon was to chase her in a since.

The stories she would tell of travel and the marathon itself took me back to my childhood days where I sat and watched the NYC marathon on TV.  I became a pilot to travel so to travel the world doing marathons was very intriguing.  At that point I only had distant visions of completing one.  Larry talked about doing the mini marathon and then start training for the full.  To this day he has never done a full marathon and there are very few people that I know that have done one either.  J Barnes is someone that got hired about the same time as me and he was also a marathoner.  I believe he had done 12 all together but he to would tell stories of completing marathons.  I remember having a very long conversation over a beer after a meeting about him running them.  Once again that thought of me one day running one came to mind and set the motion of it one day becoming a reality. 

But first I had to get the Spring of 2000, 9 miler out of the way followed closely by the 13.1 mini marathon.  Back then, at UPS, the mini marathon was a big deal.  We would have teams put together and UPS was a big sponsor so anyone that was a runner at UPS did the Mini and some did the triple crown of races in SDF.  This was a first for me so just like everything else I do it was going to take some preparation and some serious goal setting.  Not sure I exactly knew what I was getting myself into at the time but as they say the rest is history.

Turns out that for the Gil Clark Memorial, 9 mile race, on April 8th 2000, I did not train at all. I did the race in 1:36:30 with a pace of 10:37 with a best pace of 8:45.  One thing I do like to do is keep track of everything.  That is another thing I like about running is that you can set daily up to life time goals.  You can walk out the door to do better than you did yesterday and achieve that goal.  You are not racing against anyone else you are competing against yourself. 

I have set many goals over the last 16 plus years and have achieved most.  Some have slipped away and still other are set in my minds eye.  Only time will tell if I achieve them.  I remember the first mile of the race and the fact that I was amazed that I ran the whole thing with out walking but quickly realized that if I was to finish I was going to have to walk some.  One lady yelled that it was not fair that my legs were so long and I was able to keep up with her while she ran and I was walking. 

I had two goals that day.  One to finish and the other was not to die after crossing the finish line.  Catherine was also running the race and since she was a seasoned marathoner and a show off she was going to finish and then run back and pick me up and run the rest of the race with me.  I kept hoping to get almost to the finish line before we would me meet up but knew that was not going to be possible.  Now it was just a matter of at what mile.  Not exactly sure what mile it was but I was glad it was not have way through the race. 

Iroquois park was where the hills were and there were three miles of what I still consider the worst hills in any road race that I have witnessed.

Along this journey of 62 marathons there will also be as much detail I can remember of the mini’s, 10 milers, 5k’s and fun runs.

Included will be my two biggest accomplishments. The 50 miler and the SDF Iron Man.

Where it all started.  Today 11/03/13, I am watching the NYC marathon.  Today 48,000 folks, back in 2000 there were 42,745 runners.  Not sure if that number was total runners or finishers.  They just did some stats of the current runners.  The leader takes 3 steps a second and spends 75 percent of the time in the air.  Let alone traveling 12 miles an hour or an average of 5 min pace per mile.  In comparison I ran the race 1/2 the pace 10:13 average pace.  More about the particulars later.  I now realize why I only recall the winners of the race.  After watching the live telecast it is oblivious that it all about the winners.  Occasional shots of the masses but the majority of the broadcast were on the top runners.  The only difference now is that  USA runners are now also ran type of folks.

Now that have relived my childhood from the perspective of someone that have done a marathon I can see why I have been captivated by this event.

It is an individual sport where everyone gets to participate and at that distance everyone gets a medal and the memories that will last a life time.

Back to where it all started.  Needless to say I finished the 9 miler and the flood of memories rush my mind back to walking home after track practice.  The pain and soreness was there in full bloom.  Many memories during those days of not being able to walk home without pain.  So why would someone go back to the future 25 years later.  Simply put, because I can.   

What I mean by that is that I set the goal to achieve and I achieved that goal.  Nobody can take that away from me.  I read yesterday that a 86 year old woman ran the NYC marathon and then died the next day.  She fell at mile 20 and hit her head.  Would not stop running and from complications she died in her hotel room.  She always said she wanted to die with her running shoes on.  I know exactly how she feels.

  

I have been doing a lot of reading about heart valve surgery and the only thing I can think about is, how long before I can start running again.  I have set a goal of 60 marathons by 60 but that might be a goal I might have to let go.  That and not running the Boston Marathon might be the only two I will have to set aside.  Put in a box on the shelf and not dwell on them.  All 50 states with no time limit might be where I will have to turn my attention.  That assumes that I can ever run again.  I broke my collar bone and ribs while training for the NYC marathon but that did not stop me.  I got hit by a slow moving truck while training for the Iron Man and that did not stop me. 

I had a flight instructor that hated me and that did not stop me.  I don’t know how to give up and that is another aspect of the marathon that draws me back time after time.  Your body is telling you to stop but your mind has to convince your body to keep going.  Different parts will chime in from time to time.  Everybody part hurts, you can’t breath, your heart is going to burst and you just generally feel like the particular race sucks.  Did not have any of that on marathon number 50 but I must admit that is a rare occasion.

Looking back at my journal, I had a very aggressive training program for the Louisville Mini Marathon.  I only had three weeks to train and I hit the street running biking and swimming.  I even kept track of my walking from my car to and from work.  Did not catch the tram and would time myself how long it took.  I made a crude map around my house to for a 4 mile run.  Not surprising, I had quite a bit of knee pain during this training.  A friend of my Sisters told me to take Glucosamine.  It does help since I can say I have over 20,000 miles on these knees.  That was as of the end of 2015 and that included running biking and swimming.  I tell people I have been to the west coast and back.  To Alaska and back and now working on my second trip back from the west coast. 

As I said before I keep track of everything.  When I first started running I would even keep track of what shoe I wore.  Now, when I lose the top, black layer of my outside right foot sole I get a new pair of shoes.  I rotate them to daily use or give them to charity.  I usually have about three pairs in rotation for running.  I also have some back up shoes for the short mileage runs. 

Most of my training was done by myself and was in between work, running the kids to their games or practices or even during some of those events.  I had a very hectic life style back then.  Work was very demanding.  I had just transferred from the UPS, DC8 flight training department.  A job I was promoted into after coming back from Rockford Illinois three years earlier and was now the DC8 flight Standards department. 

I did something just about everyday between the two races.  I also kept track of everything.  I took the day off prior to the race to ice down my sore knees and remember wearing a neoprene knee brace back then and also during the race.

It was now race day, April 29, 2000, 45 degrees and I was on the Irregular and oversize UPS team.  That is how we categorized some of our packages.  It had nothing to do with the people on the team.  We had to be bussed out to the start and UPS being a sponsor we all had nice warm ups and UPS singlets to wear.  We would also drop off our outerwear with UPS drivers and they would deliver them to the finish for us.  Like I said it was a big deal for UPS and everyone took great pride in running this race.  Since this was only my second race with the masses I really did not know what to expect. 

It was the 27th running of the race and I was not looking forward to the hills in Iroquois park.  You hit those hills a few miles into the race and it was just about down hill back to down town Louisville from there.  I did the first mile in 8:08 and then slowed down from there.  By now I was able to run just about the whole thing but looking at my times I did not like the hills and seemed to get slower on each mile with an occasional burst of speed.  I finished with a time of 2 hours and 1 minute which was a 9:16 pace.  I would give anything to do a 9 plus pace in a mini now.  The last few were about 10 minutes and the last one in Miami a few weeks back was a 12 minute pace.  Granted I had just complete the Detroit Marathon, number 50 the week prior.  Little did I know at the time they were going to be my last races for awhile.

Marathon running has become so much a part of my personality that I am still signing up for them not knowing if I will be able to ever do another one again.  I guess I feel if I don’t put together a schedule then I will never run again.  That thought is very sobering especially since the art of running has kept my head on straight through out my trial and tribulations of a divorce and raising my three kids practically on my own while at the same time performing at a high level as a flight manager at UPS.  The runs have given me the opportunity to escape in a good way from the weight of it all and also taught me the discipline to keep working towards my goals.  It has taken me to some of the best places in the world and had me achieved goals that I never dreamed possible.

A couple of thoughts come to mind when it comes to pain in running.  I often joke that the reason that I shave my head before a marathon is so that the hair follicles can’t hurt because everything else will.  In actuality I have only ran a marathon in very bad pain once.  It was the top of Logan Marathon and you run downhill for the first 13 miles and I pulled a calf muscle at mile 18 and hobbled in from there.  I was out for 6 weeks after that.  I try not to run when injured.  I just take the day or week off and pick up where I left off.  People always ask about knee pains and I have been fortunate in that regard.  It all might be because of the supplements I take. 

I have heard about or seen many folks try to run thru their injuries to only find out they are out for weeks or months.  I did have to change that when training for the Iron Man.  I was in pain most of the training period but I attribute that to all the biking that I did.  Found out two thinks.  I don’t like to be bent over for very long and I don’t like to be sitting on a narrow seat while doing it.   I advise people all the time that if it hurts stop doing it.  I have had the usual run in with pain from time to time but I usually just take the time off to heal.

Back to the Mini.  Like it was yesterday, I can remember turning the corner on main street in downtown Louisville and seeing the finish line and just like I still do today, I took off.  Crossing the finish line was the best.  Having that medal put around my neck is a feeling I keep coming back for.  I kept all my medals in my home office hung on the door.  The current years medal s are on the bed room door or in my office in MIA for the races I have run there. Now that we have sold our house and put everything in storage most of them are there.  Since that time those that I have gotten over the last year are in the small storage unit here in Atlanta.   It is surprising how running has become so much of my life.  Folks that I know always ask about my last or next race.  Conversations come up about running with people I don’t know and I am always planning or thinking about the next race.  It will be strange to not be able to run again.  I doubt it but it is something I have been thinking about over the last month or so.  I love to travel so I guess I will just have to find something else to do while on the road.  The typical tourist things are not my cup of tea and I often tell people that I sight see one mile or one step at a time.

Well now that the Mini is behind me the training for the first Marathon continues.  Looking at my journal I kept the training going at a high level.  Just about every day I was doing something and keeping tr  ack of it all in great detail.  One would think I was training for a triathlon and back then I would never think I would one day compete in an actual Iron Man competition.  Much more about that later

May third race as an adult was May 13, 2000 where I ran in the Throo the Zoo, 5K.  I had been doing some track work and working on speed so I thought it would be great to see how I could do in a 3.1 mile run.  The race took place in the Louisville Zoo and had some hills but mostly a lot of turns.  Most people walked the race but I was off to a fast pace the first mile with a 7:26.  Slowed down after that and at one point wondered if I was going to be able to finish since I got myself into oxygen debt.  I finished with a 23:28 which is a 7:46 pace.  I was 16 out of 46 for age and sex and 120 out of 710 overall.  I was very happy with my time but in a race like this there are no medals for the finishers just for the top 3 in age and sex or overall.  Right then I knew I wanted a medal in a 5K race.  There are a couple of things you can do to get a medal in a race like that.  One is to, of course get faster and the second is to find a small local race.  You don’t get much smaller than this size crowd so I guess I needed to work on my speed. 

With that thought in mind it was back to the track.  I also wanted to keep my eye on the price of finishing a marathon so I mixed it with the dreaded long runs.  At this point 13.1 miles was the furthest I had run so now I needed to start working up on the mileage.  I did not give up on the track, the pool or on the road with the bike but bit by bit the mileage started to climb but not by much.  It was late June and my longest training run was 10 miles. 

Summer in Louisville was approaching and I was having a hard time getting the more miles in.  Catherine talked me into doing a triathlon so July 9th 2000, I competed in the Shelbyville Triathlon.  This was a sprint Triathlon so it was only a half mile swim, 16.5 mile bike and 3 mile run.  This was my fourth race.  I finished the swim in 21 minutes the transition in 2 ½ minutes the bike in 52 minutes and a 1:49 transition and a 26 minute run for a 1 hour and 43 minutes.  I won’t bore you with the, how I finished stats, but all  I will say is that most people biked and ran in the time it took me to swim, while I took my time to change.  Rookie mistake but I must say I think the seed had been sown on doing an Iron Man one day.  It was a lot of fun and it was able to get me over the fear of swimming in open water and biking on an open road.

The memories I had of swimming as a child was back in NC visiting my grandmother and almost drowned in the neighborhood pool.  Someone was actually drowning and I jumped in to save him and he used me as a buoy to keep him afloat.  Life guards jumped in and pulled him off of me and I swore never to do that again.  I knew how to swim but with my body built it was always a struggle.  I was not comfortable in the water and had a tendency to sink.  Lack of body fat causes the sinking part and the almost drowning keeps me from feeling comfortable in the water.  With open water it is even worst.  Biking was a different story.  I rode my bike everywhere as a kid all the way through flight school.  I had no problems going 20 or more miles on my bike but that was back when I was fearless.  As an adult it was not something I did on a regular basis and for a very good reason which I will talk about in a little while. 

One of the things that keeps to come to mind is how white the sport of running is.  As a pilot I think I am more conscience of my surroundings when it comes to race.  The environment in aviation is more prone to white males so have lived in that environment for the last 37 years.  Then you go back to my brief stint in college and you see the same thing at an Ivy League college.  The Triathlon was the first time I noticed the lack of people of color.  After the race I was lying on the beach and noticed that I was the only one of color there.  More about that later.

10 days later, July 19, 2000, I was going out for a simple 30 minute bike ride.  I had done this route many times and was going to go out to improve my time.  That is the one of thing I was really starting to like about running etc, is that you can go out by yourself and compete against yourself and win.  Either by doing a distance you never done before or in a time faster then you did before.  You can even just set a time for the training event and see how close you can come to it.  Or you can leave all the gadgets and watches behind and just run.  Just you and the sound of your foot steps.  You can leave all of the rest of the world behind.  It will still be there when you get back. 

I walked out the house and looked at my helmet and thought, it is only a 30 minute bike ride.  Not many cars so I almost left it behind.  The kids were with me and we were going on a week long house boat trip the next day so I grabbed it and put it on.  I am still alive for that decision.

Headed out for the ride and everything was going as planned.  It was a simple out and back and during the back part I lost control and came off the bike head first.  In retrospect as a car was coming from behind I should have slowed down.  However I was out to improve my time so that was not an option at the time.  I remember thinking to myself as I went airborne that this was going to hurt.  I landed on my head right shoulder and right hip. 

Ended up breaking my collar bone in three pieces and two ribs.  The lady in the car that was behind me stopped and asked if I was okay and I said no.  She pulled off and left me on the side of the road.  I picked myself up and started heading in the direction I was going.  Not much traffic on this road but a car came towards me with two teenage kids in it and stopped.  They both got out and could tell I was I in pretty bad shape.  They asked as they put my bike in the car if I was going to robe them.  I was holding my collar bone with one hand and by ribs with the other.  I got in the car and was asked where I lived.  I was unable to give an address or directions.  We kept going in the direction they were headed and told them I was going in the opposite direction so asked them to turn around.  Hard to do on that narrow road so went out on the major road and headed back towards my house.  I assured them that something would look familiar as it did.  Back at the house I walked in and noticed that the kids were home and that a bag was packed on my bed.  I asked them why they were home and about the bag and they reminded me of the boat trip the next day.  I started to cry not about my injuries but about not being able to take them on the vacation. 

Someone took me to the hospital and the doctor gave me two alternatives.  An operation on my collar bone so that it would heal properly.  Or take some pain pills and wear a brace to assist in the healing.  I went with the pill option and went home and passed out.  Not for long since the ribs really would not let one to sleep for very long no matter how many pain pills you take.  One small problem.  Can’t drive while taking pain pills and we were taking the motor home to the lake to pick up the boat.  Got up the next day stopped taking pills and off we went for the boat trip.  Got on the boat and back on pain pills and the rest is history.

I learned a lot from that experience.  The first thing was to follow you gut.  Something told me to pick up the helmet and through my life I have used my gut to guide me through many situations.  Some say use your brains or follow your heart but I believe your gut takes what you have learned over the years, your emotions and experiences and gives the overall best  decision.

I also learned that pain is temporary but failure lasts a life time.  I endured the pain so that I would not let my kids down.  We all had a great time and I racked it up as a life lesson and learning experience.   With this injury I also did not miss a day of work however due to not having the operation there is a noticeable deformity of my collar bone.

About two weeks later on the fourth of August I was back at training for the Marathon.  I started out very slow with walking a few miles a day.  After a few days I added ridding a bike on a stand.  One week later I got back on the saddle and took a 30 minute bike ride out on the road.  It was not until the 15th that went for a actual run.  Started out on the track with a few days later out for a 6 mile tempo run with a 9:08 pace.  It was not until the 27th, 5 weeks after the accident that I was back to doing 10 miles on the road.  My first milestone occurred on September 2nd, where I ran 17 miles at Indy’s Eagle Grove Park.  I was well on my way with my marathon training and with a few months to go was adding the required mileage.  The following weekend a 19 miler.  At the same time I was still busy running the kids to Soccer etc, practice and weekend games or tournaments so some of these runs took place at odd times and venues while continuing with short bike rids however swimming with a crippled wing was out of the question. 

By now I was keeping track of everything.  How many hours I slept, what my heart rate was prior, during and after, each training session with the average included.  Knee pain was a factor so it was not until October 15th that I was able to pull of a 24 mile training run.  Not sure, but I believe prior to me training for the 50 miler, I did not run that many miles during training.  We are now inside of one month before D day so now comes the tapering for the Marathon.  Just in time because now on just about every run no matter the distance I am writing about knee pain, of some sort.

November 5, 2000, I lived out my dream and pinned on number 27925.  I woke up at 5am after 6 hrs of sleep and put on my blue running shoes.  Of course, I was in the 4th coral which meant I started about one hour after the first gun with off.  I finished in 4 hours 27 minutes and 45 seconds and wast the 17,159 to finish out of 29,327.  I was 13,845 out of 21,015 males and 1676 out of males in my age group.  At that time I was 45 years old.  This was my 5th race of the year and will always have fond memories.  I flew the kids up to watch the race.  They were with my sister and I saw them right about mile 20. 

It took everything I had to get that far.  I was very excited to see them that it gave me a extra burst of energy but did not last very long.  Instead of hitting the wall at mile the wall hit me and in a very big way.  I did not give up but it took every shred of effort and mental power to finish.  You hear many stories on how much a mental game running a marathon is and I have my own theories that I will play out as time goes on writhing this.  It was so strange how hard it was to just keep moving.  You always have a time in mind to finish and now I am much better at it but during my first I noticed that as I was slowing down it was harder and harder to calculate how long it was going to take me.  It was as if I did not have the brain power to do the simple math and keep running at the same time. 

The joke I often tell is that near the end while trying to figure it out when I will finish I keep coming up with the answer, Tuesday. 

UPS was a sponsor so after it was over they had package cars lined up with our gear inside.  It seemed like forever to get to the car with my stuff since my number was so high my package car was near the end.  I had a lot of gear since I don’t remember the exact temp but I do remember it being cold.  Had to catch a bus many hours prior to the race and was basically waiting and freezing in an open field.  I remember jumping over all the items that people started running with and then just took off in the first mile or so and left for people to trip over. 

We were packed like sardines and then not thin out much the whole way.  Even if it did it would bunch up again going over one of the five bridges.  There was one bridge called the Willis Ave Bridge that went from mile 19 to 20, where there was a mile marker at the bottom and another one before we got to the top.  You could not stop or you would be trampled by the masses behind you.  I just kept saying I think I can, I think I can just like the little engine that could.  Read a face book post from Catherine’s daughter, Christie, the other day.  Her then 3 year old son, Aaron, ran his first 1 mile fun run with his dad and grand dad and they said up a hill he was saying the same thing.  I think I can, I think I can.  I have said a lot of different things over the past 13 years to keep me going but that will always stick out.  We did the same while on Vacation in St. Kitts last year when the van was trying to make it up a steep hill on the Island.

Now that the goal has been achieved it is now time to pay the piper.  The pain of the stiff legs did not take long to take whole.  It would take me forever to get up or to sit down and now matter what I did or took the pain was relentless.  Not so much these days with marathons and nothing at all for shorter races.  It brought back all the bad memories of running track in high school.  All the pain trying to get home after practice and the days that followed.  I remember having dreams of an adult trying to run and my legs not moving fast enough and everyone passing me by.  I had the same dream last night for the first time in years.  I guess it was because I have taken off running for awhile. 

Not sure how long that while will be.  I am giving myself two months to see if that helps with the heart murmur but if not maybe the Detroit Marathon on October 20th, 2013 will be my last.  I am already signed up for three more next year but right now I need to take it one day at a time.

Back to the NYC and the aftermath that I like to call it.  I did, now have bragging rights.  I could now be in the small group of the population that can say they have run a marathon.  It is about 1% and it is even less than that being a black airline pilot so if you take those two stats you can say there are a very small percent of the population that is a black airline pilot in a management position that also runs marathons.  I tried to get Guinness book of world records to certify that I was the first one of that category to run 50 marathons but they would not buy that. 

I was trying to give my kids the sense of how long a marathon is so when we drove back from my sisters house in Conn. to the airport I told them it was about the same distance and we kept track of the miles all the way to the airport.  They were quite impressed and to think I did not have a bear chasing me. 

The very next thing that came to mind was if I was going to be one of those folks that completes one marathon and checks it off their bucket list or one of those that continues on.  I did not know it back then but there was some other groups of people that take it to an extreme.

Those that want to run one in all 50 states.  Those that 26.2 miles is not enough of a challenge and those that want to run one in all 7 continents.  Then there is the last group of extreme folks that run 50 a year and marathons have completely taken over their lives.  Turns out that except for the last group I have flirted with each of those other groups.

You would think that I had enough running and racing for the year but not me.  I took a week off and was back at small distances 3-4 miles a day and just about every other day.  On 11/23/2000 I ran my 6th race which was the Fast Freddies Feastive Five Mile Foot Feast.  I dare you to say that Five times a Fast.  Did not know it at the time but it was a very famous Thanksgiving day race.  If you ran it one year your name would be on the back of the shirt the following year.  I still have a couple of those long sleeve cotton shirts.

They come in handy on some of those cold days of training.  The day was listed as very windy and cold and I was able to pull off a 39:08 time with a 7:50 average and a 7:41 best mile.  I was not done for the year by a long shot.  A little over a week later I drove the Motor Home to Indy and ran in the Jingle bell 5K which was my 7th race for the year in a time of 22:55.  That was a 7:22 average and a 7:16 best mile.  The next day went to Brown County State Park and did a 10 mile training run.  There were plenty of hills and that pesky old right knee pain was back.   A week later I had the mileage back up to a 12 mile run but this time I had a lot of knee pain. 

It is kind of funny.  Thinking back to those times I don’t remember the knee pain at all.  It is kind of retrospective.  It hurts at the time but does not leave a lasting memory.  My final fun for the year was a 6 mile tempo run.  I was very tired during the run and got up at 5:30 am after 7 hours sleep.  So many years later and I still get up around 5:30 am and always try to get 7 hours of sleep.  I wore my blue shoes and did the run in 51 minutes which is a respectable 8:30 pace.  Back then I was using road runners sports website to keep track of the totals. 

Back then I did not keep track of total miles that I biked or swam but for running the total was 583 miles.  At that time I know I was not thinking of running 60 plus marathons.  Not sure if I was even thinking of doing another one.  There was so much about running that I truly enjoyed.  It was my time to escape from the pressures of the world.  To get lost by myself and at the same time doing something positive that was good for me.  So many people escape in detrimental ways.  Not the case with running in particular or having a healthy exercise routine in general.  Much has been written on how some have drifted off the edge with exercise and have gone to extremes that could be judged as unhealthy.  Some might even say that I have approached that edge or even a time or two had gone over that edge. 

It has satisfied my competitive personality by someone that in reality is not very good at anything in particular.  I would call myself a C+ person that works very hard to survive in an A+ world. That year I ran 2, 5K’s, 1, 5 miler, 1, 9 miler, 1 half marathon and 1 full marathon for a 6 total races that first year.  As a comparison I usually do about 16 races a year.  Not bad for my first year.  Especially since I did not start until April and broke several bones along the way.  At this point in time some could say I was hooked. 

Only time will tell.

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