My Siena Lady

In the fall of 1991, I met the cutest “girl” and chased her for all I was worth.  We met at Siena College.  She’s stuck with me through thick and thin – literally in my case.  One of her favorite movies – probably her favorite, is “The Sound of Music”.  In Europe we were able to visit the “real” Siena – the Italian City outside of Pisa, and also stay in the real Von Trapp Home – the home the Von Trapp family left in Salzburg, Austria so that they would not be forced to serve Hitler.  Ironically, Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS would takeover their home, and make it his summer house.  You could actually see one of Himmler’s bunker’s  – leading to underground areas, at the Von Trapp home still.  This was truly a terrifying reminder of our truly not too distant past.

So I ran through the Swiss Alps.

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When my wife and kids and I decided to plot a summer trip to Europe, I wasn’t thinking we would be the Griswalds in total.  We did go to a beer hall in Germany (I actually had root beer).  We did see the places where the Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg.  We did try to drive in Rome – that was fun.  The highlight though for me from an exercise perspective was I did the Swiss Alps 47k – http://www.SwissAlpine.ch for those interested in torturing themselves.

The race organizers said to plan to “double” your normal marathon time.  47K is a few more miles than a regular marathon, but there was no way this climb over a couple of hills should actually cause me to “double” my marathon time.  Yeah right.

In any event, I did double my normal marathon time.  But it was still incredible.  We ran (ok, climbed) thousands of feet of elevation gain.  We went through steep rocks, and snowy peaks – in July.  It was truly the only race I honestly thought about quitting.  The leg cramping was intense, I had no appreciation for how hard it would be.  It was painful, it was challenging, it was glorious.

In some races, there is a “sweep car”.   Here, if you wanted (needed) to get off the course, they would send a helicopter, rope down a gurney and two EMS workers, strap you in, take you back up to the helicopter, and fly you to an ambulance.  As I said – it was painful, it as challenging, but there was no way I was going to be helicoptered off the Swiss Alps.

I celebrated the only logical way possible, I strapped myself into a parachute afterwards and ran off a cliff and floated gently down those same thousands of feet to the ground. Swiss Alpine Marathon 2018?  I doubt it, but you never know.

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Runner’s World. Me?

I grew up in the Catskills and one of my childhood friends were the Hirsch brothers.  The name “Hirsch” may not ring bells instantly, but in the running community, it’s the Gold Standard.  Right up there with names like Frank Shorter (1st American to win Gold in Marathon), Bill Rogers, Deena Kastor (America’s most honored female Olympic Runner).

The Hirsch brothers, father, George Hirsch, is Chairman of the Board of the NY Road Runners, a founder of the NYC Marathon, and a past publisher of Runner’s World magazine, Men’s Health, etc.  He also ran a 4:04 marathon, AT AGE 75, not too shabby!

While I have not seen Mr. Hirsch or his kids in years, I hope he would be happy to know that a magazine he founded has helped teach people about a sport that has changed so many peoples lives, including mine.

Each week Runner’s World tells the story of someone who running changed.  This week, I was pleased to have the story be mine.

Short post today, it’s a Saturday, I slept in, now it’s off to the gym.  Taking the kids to WWE wrestling tonight . . . priorities!

MARATHON 25!

I remember my 1st marathon 32 months ago saying “never again”.  So I still find it funny that I laced up my shoes to do marathon 25 this past weekend.

I was able to run with my wife’s and my college friend, Dr. Michele.  She is the complete opposite of her 6’3″ husband who won our shared age group last week at THE Classic 10k.  Dr. Michele is about 5’2″.  She took me though my first 20 mile run in October of 2014 and was at the start line with me at my first marathon, my 12th in 12 months, and two more – including my 25th.

She was my “security blanket” on my first one  (what’s better than running your first marathon with a real medical doctor by your side).   We stayed together for the first half of that before injury forced her to slow down.

Last year, I was able to coach her to her goal time for what was her fourth marathon.  This year we did her 5th (my 25th) together.  I was glad to be with her as temperatures stretched into the upper 80’s.  That meant I could check my pride and run an hour slower than my normal 4 hour to 415 time and just enjoy the day.

Marathon running has become a lot of fun for me.  When you are running for the pure joy though and don’t care about the time, it can sometimes be even nicer.

THE Classic 10k

There are lots of 10k races but only ONE Classic 10k.  It’s in Middletown, NY. What makes it THE Classic?  Lots of reasons.

First, it follows the classic running route of Frank Shorter, America’s Gold Medal marathon winnner in 1972.  Mr. Shorter grew up in part in Middletown. The race races his traditional route in part where he would run as a child.

He won the race when it first started 37 years ago. Each year he comes back and runs it again. He did so this year – age 69 and all.

I was happy to get through it in 48 minutes and something second. That was second in my age group, behind my 6’3″ college friend Eddie.

THE Classic gets hundreds of runners each year. Come run it!

http://classic10k.com/

Another Sub-4 Hour Marathon

Sub 3 hour marathons are fantasy for folks like me.  We have to settle for sub-4 hour marathons.

At last week’s Rhinebeck Marathon I was able to sneak in my second sub-4 race.  It was a rainy morning and I had never run a marathon in the rain.  Candidly, I didn’t really have it in me to go that morning.  Tired, cold – why bother.

The only reason I did is that this marathon is special to me for two reasons.  First, it was only it’s third year in existence and I had run the first two years.  I’m looking for one or two marathons I can run for years (decades??).  Since Rhinebeck is only an hour away or so, it is a logical choice.  Second, the first year I ran that marathon (it’s first year in existence), there were only 21 finishers . . . and I was 9th.  Yup, I had a “top ten” marathon finish.  I will take it.

As I got through the first half (I ran for a while with a gentleman who was 420 lbs a couple of years ago but had gastric bypass and was now around 190 – tall guy), I felt decent.

About 18 miles in, as is the usual case, I started to tire.  However, at around 20 I felt better and at 22 I noticed – I was right on that witching hour – the 4 hour bubble.  Maybe, just maybe, I could sneak through.

I rounded the bend at mile 26.1 and could see I was at 3:59:20.  Tired, soaking wet, I did the only thing I could do those last thirty seconds.  I ran!   Chip time had me in at 3:59:46 with a “gun time” of 3:59:50 (chip vs. gun time for those who don’t know simply means I was a few seconds behind the official starting lie by the time I crossed it vs. the time the starting whistle was blown).

Raleigh, NC

I can’t say I’m on a quest to be one of those 50 State marathon people, but let’s face it, I’m on a quest to be one of those 50 State marathon people.

My cousin, who has run a number of marathons, told me about the Tobacco Road marathon in Cary, NC for March of 2017.  She told me about it months ago so we registered with the goal to beat a specific time for her.   I drove from NY and overnighted in Raleigh.  I had been eyeing a 5k in Raleigh the day before the Tobacco Road marathon.

Unfortunately, the weather for the drive down grew rainer and less and less pleasant, and I didn’t make it to my hotel until about 1 AM Saturday morning (the marathon was Sunday).  Suffice to say, I decided to sleep in and see Raleigh.

The hotel, however, had other plans.  This has only happened to me once before, but the alarm clock in my room apparently was not turned off, so at 6 AM, less than 5 hours before I went to sleep, it went blaring off.   Now, I was naturally angry at the alarm clock, housekeeping, whoever caused the alarm to go off (it wasn’t me).  Rather though than let my anger stew, I did what any angry runner with a nearby 5K would do – I got up and went to the 5k race.  It was a rainy morning at the Chik Fil A race series – called Ellas’ Run, in Raleigh.  Cold and miserable, it was what it was.

My anger must have been appropriately channeled to the road as I was able to win my age group.  The prize was a great cow bell.  I’m normally not a 5k runner.  However, when you surprise yourself and finish first in your age group, it’s an awfully nice morning.  IMG_7041

It was MAGICAL

In 1996, my future wife and I went on our first trip together.  Disneyworld.  We had no kids, were just out of college, and rather than go to a beach or some party city, we chose the Magic Kingdom.   Disney is a part of the lives of millions of around the world so we aren’t that unusual.

Over the years we’ve been to Disneyland Paris, Disneyland (California), and Aulani – Disney’s Hawaii resort.  We are Disney Vacation Club members.  Yes, we are a Disney family.

In 2016 I told my wife I wanted to run the Disneyworld Marathon.  “oh no you aren’t, not without me” she said.  Huh.  I’ll get her.  So when Marathon registration opened up, I went online and signed her and I up.  She’s a teacher, so in the middle of class she gets an email saying she was registered for the 2017 Disneyworld marathon.  THAT generated an interesting response.

The deal was she would do it, but I couldn’t tell anyone.  She was petrified she would not finish.  I was confident she would.  The week before the race, we told her mother (somebody had to watch the kids when we were at Disney).  Her mother had a suspicion – mother’s have that intuition no matter what the age.

Marathon morning at Disneyworld was the coldest marathon morning I had ever had.  January in Florida this year was MUCH colder than normal – colder than the early November NYC Marathon I had done just two months ago and cooler than the late November Philadelphia marathon I had done just 7 weeks before.

We wore three layers of clothes and were finally off.  It was truly a great experience.  Running through all four Disney parks – places we had been numerous times, was just such a thrill.  Disney says every mile is magic.  It sure was.

Now I’m married to a marathon runner.  How cool is that!

Chicago 2017, Disneyworld Marathon and THE SCALE

A few quick notes:

The Chicago Marathon entry deadline for 2017 was early this year. Last week I got the email that I AM IN!  So Columbus Day weekend 2017 will be spent on Chicago again!

In just a few weeks I go to Orlando to run the Disneyworld Marathon with a special new marathon runner – and I don’t mean Mickey. Stay tuned!

The scale. My waist is comfortable at 33 or 34 inches but this week I go for my second weigh in at the doctor for this year. Over the six month intervals between doctor visits my weight creeps up and I then have to push to drop about 10 – 12 lbs before my appointment. The scale breeds accountability now as much as it bred embarrassed frustration three and a half years ago when I started this journey.

Given that Christmas and New Year’s are soon and I am very busy at work this is likely my last post for 2016. In the spring of 2013 I weighed 286 lbs. Now, I’m about half that and have run 21 marathons. If I can do it, so can you.

The streets of Philadelphia

I  think the blog post title is a song by someone. I was able to hit my third big city marathon this fall – Philadelphia. It was my 5th marathon in ten weeks and I think I have a new favorite one.

When you can run the streets Ben Franklin walked, have friendly Philadelphia police cheering you on, run through the frat house row of one of America’s great colleges, see the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall, meet a lot of friendly people and end at the famous “Rocky” steps, you’ve had a great day.

Philadelphia wasn’t my fastest or my slowest but it was my most enjoyable marathon experience by myself. Unlike NY, I didn’t have to arrive four hours early. Philly had buses that picked you up at your hotel and take you to the start. It was a great course and a friendly crowd. I absolutely want to do this one again.