Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Harrisburg Marathon 2013

It was a cold morning in Harrisburg on November 10th, 2013.  It was similar to how it was five years ago, for my first marathon.  I got to City Island shortly past 6:30, and I parked the car.  Then took a warm up lap around the island going to the bathroom at each of the port-a-johns around the island.  When I was headed back to my car, I saw my good friend Ed.  Ed was taking the job of Matt Smith that day who was off defending the nation, part of is reserve duties that he has to perform.  We chatted a bit, he wished me luck on qualifying for Boston and I headed off to my car.  I then met up with the River Runners for a group photo and then headed off for one last bathroom break.  I ran into Andy Courtney and Howard Andrews we chatted and walked up to the start line together.  I tried to start up front, I saw the 3:25 pace group and definitely wanted to be in front of them (3:10 was the goal).

First Mile, Photo take by
Bob Rudolph
The national anthem was sung and then the horn went off for the race.  The first mile was way too fast for me 6:20 and the second one was even faster 6:19, I had to slow down there is no way I could keep this pace going for 3:00 hours.  I stopped in the first port-a-john I saw (I sort of had to go) and I knew I would be with slower runners when I got out, and maybe that would slow me down a bit.  The third mile was 7:11 and and I felt like I was at a good pace we were just entering the green belt section of the course where you go through Phoenix Park by PennDot.  We got out of that and I still felt good and my pace was still under 7:00/mile pace.  We headed back to the island to take a lap around the island and then back out along the river.  I was telling my self just keep a good pace like I was doing and I will make it just fine. 

I was feeling real good up until Industrial Road where the wind started picking up.  Around mile 14 I saw Josh Beck running past me while pushing Donna Mummert, an ALS patient, the entire marathon.  I thought at this point I was in trouble, but I looked at my trusty Garmin and saw I was still on pace, and I told myself only 12 miles to go.  I headed into the HACC parking lot feeling a little run down but the parking lot had a tail wind and I was picking up the pace a little, being glad that I would have a tail wind for the hills of Wildwood.  I eventually hit the hills at Wildwood and told my self just to hold on until mile 21 where we will meet up with Jason and he can pace me through the rest of the race.  I climb the hills of Wildwood  and was running out of the Wildwood park, I average a pace around 7:20 or so through the hills, so I knew I needs one or two more miles that were going to be below a 7:15 pace to finish the course in a time of 3:10.  

I climbed the final hill on Industrial Road and saw coach John Leftko, one of the Team in Training coaches, he shouted out that I was looking good and Jason was waiting for me on 6th Street.  I turned the corner saw Jason and signal to him to start running.  I finally caught up to him and we started running together like we do every morning.  I was in a lot of pain at this point and had five more miles to go, we then saw Shelly Sandom and the Team in Training support crew behind her to cheer us on, and that lifted my spirit until about Green Street.  Jason kept me going and I kept trying to keep pace we finally got to Vaughn Street and turned onto Front Street for the final stretch of the race.  My legs were hurting and I was just wishing this could be over.  

At this time of the race I remember something I heard Craig Alexander said to both Pete Jacobs and to Luke Mackenzie (2012 Ironman World Champion and 2013 runner up at Ironman World Championship respectively), which was "You will have to put yourself in pain if you want this".  So I knew I was in pain, but I didn't want to give up so I kept running.  When that finally wore off I remembered what I read in the book called "Running with Kenyans"  by Adharanand Finn.  It said in the book that Paula Radcliff, a British marathon runner (and world record holder of the marathon), said when she hits a rough patch in the race she would repeat "I Love you Isla" (her daughters name) and for some reason that would help her through the rough patch.  So I figured if it works for the British is should work for me too.  I said to myself "I Love you Bex, I Love you Belle" and it was helping.  I finally hit the water stop at McClay Street stopped and got a quick drink and headed off to finish the run.  Jason was telling me not to stop and to just stop the bitching for the rest of the run (I'm glad I taught him so well) [Jason if you are reading this I hope you are laughing] We finally got around the sunken garden and headed down along the river.  Jason reminded me of a conversion we had there.  He said "remember when we ran here a few months ago at a 7:15 pace," and I said "no," he continued "you said then all we have to do is do this pace for 3 hours and we will qualify for Boston."  We went under the Walnut Street bridge and all I had to do was climb the hill and run across that bridge, about half a mile to go.  I checked my watch and I was at 3:06 at the top of the hill I had four minutes to run across the bridge.   I heard the Team in Training family cheering "Go Keith!!"  

I said a few more time "I Love you Bex, I Love you Belle" I finally crossed the finish line the clock was reading 3:07:56 or something.  I beat my BQ time by 2 whole minutes.  Thank God it was over, and I met my goal.  I caught up with Lisa and Bex and gave Bex a huge hug and a kiss and said to her "I love you Bex!" she hugged back and said "I Love you daddy." I caught up to Jason and thanked him for helping me out for the last six miles.  

Jason, Lisa, Bex, and I went down to the pavilion got some food (I wasn't that hungry but thought I should eat something), and then decided we had to go since we were getting family pictures in the afternoon.  As we were leaving they were posting the results I was 5th in my age group 27th overall, not to bad since the first time I did the race I was 574th (4:40:48).  As we were walking back to the car I saw Andy Courtney he also beat his qualifying time of 3:30, and later we found out Howard also beat his qualifying time too.  I drove Jason back to his car and headed home.

I want to give a big THANK YOU to Jason who without being there there was no way I would have done that good.  I'm sure  he was probably just tired of me talking about qualifying for Boston, but thank you anyways, and I will keep prodding him to qualify.  I also was so thankful for everyone that was cheering for me, all the Team in Training people that were screaming my name and telling me to go.  I joined Team in Training hoping to put some purpose behind my training, which I did, and I also found a ton of friends which are like family to me, one of which was Jason.

Thank you all,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Double Mussel

I haven't posted in a while, and I had such a fun weekend in Geneva this weekend I thought it was time for me to post again. I returned to Geneva, NY this weekend to tackle the double mussel.  Which is a sprint triathlon on Saturday, and half-iron triathlon on Sunday. 

The family and I packed up the car Friday morning and headed up north US-15.  We arrived at our hotel around 3:00 pm or so and unpacked everything.  We picked up dinner, and then headed to the packet pickup.  After that we headed down to watch the Micro-mussel which is a super sprint triathlon (100 yard swim, half-mile bike ride, and quarter mile).  It was quite amusing to watch and was a good way to start the weekend.  We headed back to the hotel for a good night sleep.

On Saturday I got up around 5 am to make sure I had everything I needed for the sprint triathlon. I got everything mounted R2D2 (my bike) on the roof of the car and drove down to transition.  The transition area was a little wet probably from the early morning dew, I set everything up and was ready to go.  Joe Saultz (Team in Training coach) was there preparing to race this triathlon.  We chatted for a while and waited for the rest of our Honey Badger team to show up.  We had Kelly Hoffman, Erin O'Brien, Alana Bortolin, Jason Fogelman, Phil Shar, Joe Saultz, and Bob Rudolph (the assistant Team in Training coach).  After I met up with everyone we headed down to the race start, and took a practice swim.  We listen to the race director's and the official's instruction to race.  I met up with Jason at the start and we proceeded into the water for the race start.  Eventually we got to the start line and the race started.

The swim was in a channel of Seneca Lake, 750 meters.  It was a tough swim with a lot of people trying to get into position, I got kicked and hit a few times, but I made it through in about 14 minutes (Which isn't bad for me).  I got out of the water and ran up to transition area to get my bike shoes on and get the bike out on the road.  I mounted the bike and I was out like a rocket.  The bike was a 16 mile ride, and I felt really good.  There was pretty severe bike accident around mile 6.  As I road by it I could see a lot of blood and people yelling for someone to get help.  I saw people going to the firehouse down the street and to a house up the road to get help.  I later learn that evening the racer did not survive the accident as he hit a park car head on.  I rode on though and I was aware of everything around me, I looked for any rough patches and the road or any tight corner.  I got to transition my bike split was around 49 minutes average speed around 20 mph.

Off to the run (my event), it was an straight out and back along the lake.  I ran out pass my many supporters (team honey badger, beautiful wife and daughter) cheering me on.  I ran out saw Jason was only like 2 minutes behind me on my way back, and saw Coach Joe (he started in a later wave), just behind him.  I finished the run and the race in a time of 1:26:50 just one second after Joe.

We waited around for the rest of the honey badger to finish, and then headed back into town for lunch.  Bex and I took a short nap, and then headed back in to get our new race chip at the packet pick up.  Then headed to the race information meeting, and then to dinner with some of the honey badgers.  We also met up with Lisa's friends Matt & Stacey Fisher who were doing there first half iron distance triathlon.  We enjoyed dinner, and also heard the horrible news of the death in the morning race.   After we finished dinner Lisa, Bex, and I headed back to the hotel room.  Lisa got Bex ready for bed and I dropped my bike off at tranisition.  When I got back I prepared everything for the next day, and got ready for bed.  I turned the Tour de France on and drifted off to sleep.  I got up at my normal time 4:00 am and packed everything up and got dressed for the day.  I walked across the street to Bob's hotel, and he drove me down to the race area.

We got down there shortly after 5 am and I set up my transition just like I did the day before met up with Shelly who brought me the most important part of my daily ritual the Twizzlers.  I put the Twizzlers in my Bento Box and ate a few before the race.  Jason and I headed down to the practice swim and swam a little.  Then we heard the national anthem and the race was going to start.  The elite athlete went in the first wave and then we were off in the second wave.  The swim felt really long to me, and I went off course at least once, but I got my self back on track and headed into transition.

When I got into transition I got my bike shoes on and headed out on the bike.  I wanted to catch Jason on the bike, but I wasn't sure how far ahead of me he was.  So I put the hammer down and I was moving.  Every time I looked down at my computer I was going around 18 to 19 mph.  I eventually caught up to Jason around mile 32 and went past him.  However I didn't make much time between us, because he ended up in transition right after me.  When I finished the bike and got off the bike I felt the cramps in my legs.  I knew I went way to hard on the bike, and I also noticed my shorts were turning white (which means I was losing a lot of sodium) which was causing the cramps.  I started the run feeling okay small cramps in the quads but other than that I was feeling good.  Saw my supporters and went out on the run.  I got to mile 3 where the cramps starting to get really bad in my calf's and quads.  I walked up the large hill at mile 4 and started running again when I got to the top.  For the next 5 miles it was really a blur, I remember walking up the hill at mile 7 which is a huge hill and then I started walk running 1 minute running and walking for 30 seconds.  I did that till around mile 10 where Jason caught me.  He decided to be a friend and walk in with me, since every time I started to run, Jason told me it looked like I was 90 years old man trying to take a dump.  The cramps were so bad at this point I was surprised I was walking.  When we got closer to the finish I grab Bex and jogged into the finish line with her. Jason took Bex from me, afraid I might drop her and he handed her back to Lisa.

Jason and I went into the pools that were at the finish to cool off and I was just having major cramps in my legs and my chest (Don't ask me why my chest was cramping).  I eventually got out of the pool where my legs just seized up I was is such pain I laid on the ground and decided not to move until the pain went away.  Some people asked if I need medical help and I waved them off, but someone knew better and grabbed one of the doctors in the medical tent and they helped me over to the tent, where they took my vitals and  told me I looked dry (I still don't know what"You look dry" means though).  They weighed me and I lost 15lbs from my weigh in on Friday.  They hooked up a IV and put three bags of fluids in me.  Lisa and Bex came into the Med Tent with me and Bex took care of me kissing my "booboo" (where the IV was) and pretended to take my blood pressure and take my pulse.  I eventually left the med tent feeling a lot better and got my flip flops and had to go to the bathroom, which is what the doctor wanted me to do anyways.  I hung out at the finish with the rest of the team honey badgers and cheered the final competitors into the finish line.

Later that evening we met back up with Dave Erb, and his wife to have some dinner and some s'mores at their camp site. We had a lot of fun where Ginny made Bex and the other Honey Badgers hats out of paper plates.

In all except for the medical tent I had a great weekend.  I had one great race, and a good swim and bike in the other race.   And a great time with some really great friends.  I just need to know if I ever do another two race day weekend again to hydrate, hydrate and hydrate after the first race.  When I went to clean up my transition I noticed my arm rest on my aero-bars wear white as well from the sodium leaving my body.  I always wanted to know what it felt like to give it my all, to have nothing left in the tank, and I think I was there this weekend.

So lesson learn triathlon gods, I will hydrate next time I do the Double Mussel.  I want to thank Team Honey Badger (Central PA TNT crew) that where there cheering us on.  I also want to thank my wife for letting me do these crazy races, and not yelling at me when I put my body into some kind of disgusting position.  I also want to thank Jason for walking in with me, he had plenty of energy to finish the race 20 - 30 minutes earlier, but decided to walk in with me.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope to see you at the next race.


Garmin Maps