Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Non-Running Update

I had my MRI last evening, no report will be forthcoming for a few days though. The images have to be read by a radiologist and then their findings reported to my family doc (who is new to our family and I don't have a lot of confidence in), who will then get ahold of me to let me know if they found anything. I had asked the MRI tech before the test if she would tell me if she noted anything out of the ordinary on my MRI and she agreed to do so, but said she did not see anything abnormal in the imaging following the MRI. That cerainly isn't conclusive though and, is why the radiologists get the big bucks and the techs don't. I will note the findings here as soon as I know, which should be 3 - 5 business days, so sometime early next week I would think.

On another note, Lindsey and her Lady Bronco softball teamates got pummeled last Friday afternoon (Tammy and I were in Amish country so, did not witness - no pun intended with the Amish reference - the devastation) by a very good St. Mary Catholic Central team with a very good pitcher although, she had a couple of hits and runs batted in. This evening, the Lady Broncos took on Saline at Saline in a double-header and won both games handily. Lindsey had a home run to right center field in her second at bat in the second game and did a solid job in the field at first base! Great job girls!

Lindsey poised to take her home run swing.

Waiting to receive a throw at first.

In other daughter news, Chelsea proudly reported to me yesterday that she has a 94% so far for the semester in her Algebra II class, which is awesome since she has always struggled with mathematics! Great job Chels! Keep up the good work!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Congratulations Marion and Kathy!

Congratulations to my friends, Marion and Kathy, on their awesome half marathon runs this past weekend. Marion, pictured below, shattered her half marathon PR in a new personal record time of 1:49:53 at the Greer Earth Day Half Marathon in Greenville, SC (I think). Congratulations, Mar! I knew you were going to be below 1:50:00! Amazing!

And, my good friend and fellow firefighter, Kathy Bankowski - who was responsible for getting me to run my first mile a couple years back starting me on my road to my first marathon - ran her first half marathon in Nashville, TN this past weekend at the Country Music Marathon, along with 30,000+ other half and full marathoners, her daugther, Lindi, being one of the other full marathoners, who finished in 4:11:41 in her first marathon! Kathy came in at 2:02:08 and was in the top 5% of her age and gender group for her race! I would have posted a pic of her as well, but the ones I have aren't good of her and, she is soooooo stinkin' humble she would have beat me had I posted one of her anyway. Congratulations, Kathy! I'm so proud of you!

No Runs, an MRI Scheduled, and an Amish Weekend

That pretty much caps this past week. I had a great time in Columbus, Ohio (Shhh... don't tell anyone, but that city has really grown on me since my job change to Grange, which is headquartered there... Michigan-folk ain't supposed to be cozyin' up to Columbus, but I just can't help myself). I was there for a "professional development" Presentation Skills seminar in which I had to write and give 5 presentations on various topics, the last of which was a Power Point presentation. After each presentation, the presenters were critiqued by the instructor and the rest of the class. There were 17 of us in the class. It was a blast and I had a great time with it and learned a great deal. The thing I learned the most is that I say "um" an awful lot!
The weather really began turning last week to the nicer side of spring and all of the flowering trees have been in full bloom. It's truly been beautiful. I just love this short-lived time of year, especially the Magnolia trees. I wish they kept their blooms longer though. I did capture these below in my work travels last week. I, well Tammy, got my leg MRI scheduled for this Tuesday evening at 5:30. I've not run since my marathon and my leg is still aching pretty severely at times. I can tell when the ibuprofen wears off. I think it will be quite some time before I am able to run again, depending on what is wrong with it. I'm hoping they are able to see something clear on the MRI and can be told what to do about it. Needless to say, I will not be running a planned 25K in Grand Rapids on May 10th as previously tentatively scheduled. I won't even be joining Tammy for the 10K or 5K race that she will be running that weekend. Oh well, I make a pretty darn good cheerleader as well. I'm going to start doing some cross-training this week though.
Tammy and I traveled down to Amish country in Berlin, Ohio this past weekend with our friends, Wayne and Kim. We originally were booked in a B&B that didn't turn out as it looked on the internet (you couldn't see the steady stream of ants parading about the units in the internet photos or see the holes in the floor or feel the heat of the rooms without any HVAC operating) so, we made other arrangements for both Friday and Saturday nights. We still had a blast. We visited an actual Amish farm and were able to tour the whole thing and get a horse-drawn buggy ride. The tour of the barn included seeing all of their pregnant animals - seriously, I think every female animal they had in the barn was pregnant! - and a new litter of beagle puppies that I am surprised we didn't end up having one find its way home with us.We had an awesome time sightseeing, shopping, and partaking in some wonderful meals, fresh bakery items, cheese factories, chocolate shops, and the best home made ice cream (mint chocolate chip) that I have ever had! It was the creamiest ice cream I have ever tasted. Incredible! I really need to start running again soon! I think I've gained 10 pounds since the marathon. The scenary was stunning as well every where we went. The countryside down there is so beautiful.

The Amish are such a delightful and joy-filled people and I really enjoyed chatting with them on the farm we toured. It sometimes makes me whistful when I consider their lives and to be able to live a more simple life. Sigh. I think in all our hustling about, doing this and that, going from here to there, we really miss out on a lot of simpler blessings in life... like spending a quiet weekend with your spouse and dear friends in a beautiful countryside. Did you know you can convert to the Amish lifestyle? Eli told me so. Just sayin'...

Have a wonderful week everyone.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Out for a Few Days

I have to head to my corporate offices in Columbus, OH for the next several days so, I won't be blogging for a little while. I'm still trying to heal, but my right leg is still pretty painful. I am clear to arrange an appointment for an MRI, but due to my schedule next week, I won't likely be able to get it scheduled till the following week at the earliest. Then, it depends on when the imaging/diagnostic facitility can get me in. Tammy and I were thinking tonight at dinner that it's hard to believe it has been a week since the race! Time flies. Too bad healing doesn't. LOL

On another couple of notes, Lindsey had her first softball games this past week. A double header in which she did not play in the first game and they lost, 15 - 6. She played in the second game and they won, 13 - 6. She had a 3 run home run in her first game! The pic below is her home run swing! She also had several unassisted outs at first base in the field. Way to go Linds!Lindsey was also accepted and inducted into the National Junior Honor Society with a candlelighting induction ceremony last Thursday. I smell Academic All-American in her future! Seriously though, we are extremely proud of her dedication, hard work, and discipline. Great job Linds!Friday night we had a belated 40th Birthday Party for my honey with about 30 - 40 of our friends and family at the house to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman that makes everybody's life better that she is a part of. I love you and will miss you honey! Then today, I had a great talk with a beautiful young woman that I take for granted too often because she is fiercely independent and I don't mention enough how proud I am of her or how much I love her, my oldest daughter, Chelsea. She was my earliest inspiration to start running so, I suppose ulitmately I have her to thank for me becoming a marathoner. Thanks, Chels. I am so very proud of how responsible you have become with your first job, driving, taking care of your expenses, and still doing your best in school, and as a beautiful young woman. You rock! I'm sorry I don't tell you this enough. I love you will all my heart!

It's been a very good week!

Have a blessed week to come! Be back soon...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Aftermath

There's a couple of pics that I left out of my report when I wrote it because I was so tired when I was wrapping up the report and wanted to get to bed, so I lost some of my enthusiasm in keeping up with the pics along with the text, which was obvious. So, this one is the second to the last turn coming into the finish where I had my awesome support posse all running along with me into the finish. I was so wasted at this point, without the picture, I couldn't have even told you who was around me other than Tammy.This next one is my last turn going into the finish chute. Whew!This next one is with my medal, the wind shirt pullover given for the race, and the awesome picture frame that Tammy, Chelsea, and Lindsey got me as a gift. If you are unable to read it, the frame says, "All things are possible for those who believe." Very cool. This week has gone by very quickly. I was surprised to have no aches and pains, other than my right lower leg and knees a bit on Monday. I could barely walk on Monday because of the pain in my leg. That got slightly better Tuesday and Wednesday, and today I am walking with only a slight limp. I went to our interim family doc yesterday afternoon. He had a series of x-rays done on my leg of which he saw nothing, though they had not been read by a radiologist yet. He was referring me for an MRI, to rule out a stress fracture, which has to get cleared through my insurance first.

Again, other than the pain in my right lower leg, I have felt pretty good. Of course, I think I walked much of the last 10k so, how much stress can that be on one's body? LOL When I do get the MRI scheduled, I'll certainly post the results here. There are several people who seem to think it is strictly a soft-tissue injury flare up, which I would be happy with. In fact, the massage therapist I have a certificate to go see seems to think he can work most of it out with deep tissue massage. That may be so, but it ain't gonna feel good during the massage!

Today was my volunteering morning in Mrs. Holme's (the Vicki I wrote about in my report) class. We had a party in celebration of my race finish. The kids (4th graders) made me a nice Congratluations card and all signed it and gave me several plants which were purchased to benefit Easter Seals in honor of Cassy. Mrs. Holmes and her students are SUCH a blessing to me and have given me back more than I could ever hope to give them in tutoring.

The kids had lots of good questions about the race and my preparation for it (Though no potty questions came up! I must say I was surprised. LOL) and then I told them that they can do anything they set there hearts and minds to. I told them to not let any nay-sayers keep them from their dreams and if they worked hard, found great friends like Mrs. Holmes to come alongside them in support and encouragement, and stay on the path to get there, they could achieve virtually anything they dreamed. We then talked about some of their dreams, goals, and aspirations. They a great group of kids and I am privileged to get to work with them.

Finally, I just want to take a very sincere, heartfelt, and grateful moment to thank everyone that was so vital in me accomplishing my goal... for your love and support, either in person, or through thoughts and prayers, thank you Tammy and my girls, Chelsea and Lindsey. I know it doesn't seem so, but other than for the Lord, I live and exist primarily for you. You all bring me more joy than I can ever express. Jeremy and Cindy for the flowers and prayer support, Mom and Dad, Carol, Matt and Amy, Tim Dawes, Dianna, Kallie and the rest of the Johnstons, Wayne and Kim and kids, Leo and Vicki, Amelia, Emily, Maggie, and Brandon... I could not have finished without all of your support in the cold and snow and wet during the race! Eric and Phil... but a couple of the many RunningAHEAD supporters that I had that were in the right place at the right time for me as well. You were truly both a blessing in seeing me through to the finish of that race, and afterwards.

For all the people from my church that I know were thinking and praying for me - my mens' group, Jim, Joe, Jeremy, the worship team, Karen, Andrew, Emily, et al, my chiropractors, Drs. Daryl and Reyna and their staff, Rose Mary, Angela, and Mary Jo, the Evans family, my friends and family, my RA family - Marion, Sara, Zoomy, Q, BadDawg, Joni, Eryn, Bonkin, Modal, Jennifer, Alan, Marcus, and so, so many others. For new blogging buddies, Jim, Mike, Karen, Sherry, Tim, and Mrs. Holme's entire 4th grade class, and again, so many others. If there is anyone I am missing by name, I apologize, truly. You were all so very encouraging and vital in seeing me through this wonderful experience. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! God's blessings on you all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Glass City Marathon Race Report

It is customary on RunningAHEAD (RA), the website that I began logging my running on about this time last year and running forum community of runners from all over the world, to write up a race report once one has finished a race, of any distance or size or perceived importance to oneself. It was the run reports of folks like (user-names) BadDawg, Bonkin, Zoom-Zoom, PowerofQ, SHoltsman and the stories of running triumphs, like those of JLynnBob and TrishieRunner, and tragedies, like Kooky2003, and personal transformations from potato chip eating couch potato to leaner and race running machines like Zoomy, PowerofQ, JustMarion, and so, so, many others, that inspired me to set a marathon goal, train for, and complete it.

In October of last year, I determined to do just that and selected the Glass City Marathon, in Toledo, Ohio on 04/13/2008 as my first marathon goal and that I would run this marathon in honor of my 35 year old cousin, Cassy, who has severe cerebral palsy and has never been able to take a step in her life. I chose this race for three reasons: 1. It is virtually in my backyard, so I was fairly certain that I would have some great personal fan support which I knew I would need and, would not have to travel. 2. It is a small race in terms of the number of runners, and, 3. It is not a well-supported fan race so, though I thought I would have good fan support, the race would be more about me and the marathon, if that makes sense.

I chose the Hal Higdon Intermediate II marathon training plan as for my training plan as it seemed to suit my present conditioning and needs for this race. I wasn't wanting to make this really technical from a training aspect and this plan just seemed to sensibly build mileage, strategically toughening you up at its peak of 50 miles per week 3 times during the course of the 18 week plan.
As many of you know, I began experiencing excruciating right lower leg pain in the inside aspect of my shin about 3 inches above the inside of my ankle following Week 11 of my training plan, my first 50 mile week. The pain I would relate to feeling like someone had struck me full-force in the leg with a sledge-hammer without shattering my leg. I took a week off, and rested, iced, elevated, and ibuprofened to see if I was able to get back at it. It worked to the extent that I was able to pick up my training runs, but I knew that I would have to be very conservative in the balance of my training for the remaining 6 weeks of training prior to the race. I cut out some of the longer runs and basically just did what I could without aggravating my leg too much so that I could continue training. With lots of babying, ice, ibuprofen (I know, Trent, not good for me), and prayer, I was able to get myself to the starting line.
I had the cool pleasure of meeting up with JakeKnight (aka Eric), a fellow RA user, who came up from Nashville to run the race as well. I first met up with him and his fiance, Kelly, with my wife, Tammy, at the running "expo", if one can call a few tables with some stuff and some t-shirts an expo, in Toledo on Saturday afternoon.Tammy and my "shoe lady", Liz, from Dave's Running Shop, who has been just wonderful in working with us on getting proper shoes, was also at the expo manning a table for the shop and would be running the second half of the marathon on race day as part of a two-person team.
Eric and I planned on meeting in the lobby of the host hotel the next morning on race day to head to the start line. Tammy and I went home and went out to dinner Saturday night with our friends, Frank and Dianna Johnston. We drove! If you've read my blog you know that we drove down to Florida with the Johnstons who had issues with their van on 2 separate occasions. I had sesame seared ahi tuna with a wasabi and soy sauce, with a salad, baked potato, and mixed vegies for dinner that night. I had loaded up with some fettucini Friday night. We soaked in the Johnston's hot tub for about a half hour before heading home for the night and I got my stuff together and laid out for the morning.
I didn't get to bed till about 11:30, but was soon fast asleep and slept well for the remainder of the night and woke up with the alarm at 5:30 race morning. I was really never nervous pre-race. I got coffee going and took a quick shower to wake and refresh myself, and had a bowl of plain oatmeal with honey and a banana along with a few sips of my coffee and a glass of water. Tammy got our girls up, both of whom had friends stay the night that would be going with us to the race to cheer me on, and we all loaded up and went to pick up one more of Lindsey's friends for the drive to downtown Toledo. Chelsea, my oldest was driving her and her friend over to Dianna Johnston's who was meeting us downtown. This is from left to right, Maggie, Emily, Lindsey, and Brandon, all part of my cheering posse for the day. They were awesome!
Tammy and I in the lobby and also Eric and I before heading out to the starting line.
Eric and I headed out to the starting line about 7:50 for the 8:00 start. I met up with friends, Leo and Vicki, out at the starting line. It was bitterly cold and windy, but there was no precipitation at this point.
My family and friends circled up and my daughter, Lindsey, prayed for me for the race. I was about in tears. The National Anthem was sang, Eric and I moved up closer to the starting line and the gun went off. Eric took off having told me if I came across him later on the course dying to just leave him. I was off and trying to just keep the reigns pulled in so I didn't go out too fast. I was actually looking to settle in to a 9:45 to 10:00 pace early on in the race, and if I felt good much later, try and pick up my pace.
We headed west out of downtown along the north side of the Maumee River and then made a left to head up over the High-Level Bridge, pictured above. I was just trying to soak everything in and keep from running too fast this first mile. I came upon a pair of girls running together up the bridge and asked if they were with the 2:40 pace group, cause the 2:30 pace group was too fast for me. They laughed. It was quite windy, I later learned the winds were 20 - 25 mph and it began snowing as we made our way up and over the bridge. I ended up running over the bridge with someone I knew from our church, Marianne, who was running the first leg of the 5 person relay. We parted at mile 2 when she stopped for a water break and I sipped as I ran through the water stop.
I was now on the south side of the river heading west through the city of Rossford toward Perrysburg. The next several miles were pretty uneventful. The wind and icy snow was coming from my right rear so, it really wasn't bothersome during most of the first half of the race at all. I took some more water at mile 4 and sometime between mile 4 and 6 my right lower leg started hurting me progressively more. Normally, on my longer runs in the past, the pain would start out badly and would actually subside to more tolerable levels the further into my runs. This would not be the case this day. I came upon Leo and Vicki around the 5 mile relay exchange mark and they were cheering me on and encouraging me. My posse, now all loaded up in Dianna's van with the addition of my oldest daughter, Chelsea, and her friend, Amelia, caught up with my around mile 6. If you look at the girls' signs, each would yell what was on them, "Go!", "Dad!", "Exclamation Point!". They were a riot!
The posse van pulled up alongside of me shortly after and Tammy was telling me I looked great and was doing great and asked how I was doing and I told her ominously that my leg was already beginning to hurt. I told her that I was on about a 9:30 pace though and felt good otherwise. They continued on ahead and I ran on taking in the scenery of the homes along the river and the whacked fisherman in their boats on the river in the driving snow.
The posse caught up with me again at mile 8 and this was about the last time that I would see them until around mile 16 or 17. I was still maintaining about a 9:40 average pace and felt good other than my right leg, which hurt, but was holding its own for the time being. I saw Leo and Vicki again around mile 10 in Perrysburg, just before making a sweeping right hand turn to head north up the Conant Street bridge and back across to the north side of the Maumee River. They asked me how I was doing and I replied that I was feeling a bit fatigued and that my leg was hurting me. They cheered me on and I began heading across the bridge. As soon as I headed north onto the bridge, the wind driven icy-snow was pelting me from the right front. The winds got worse the further toward the middle of the bridge I got and the bridge was a long, slow, uphill grade.

I was pretty sapped by the time I got back across to the north side of the river and made an immediate left turn on the first sidestreet, then west a couple blocks, north one, and then west again heading down a residential street that turns into the entrance to Sidecut Metro Park in Maumee, Ohio. I was pretty tired from the bridge and the exposure and grasping in my head for something to pick me up knowing that I wasn't even half way through the race. A guy on his bike on the sidewalk to my left yelled out my name. I looked up and, after a second, realized it was Phil Mishka, another fellow runner from RA! He got the next pic of me about mile 11.5 and then rode alongside of me for about a mile and a quarter as we chit-chatted. It totally took my mind off of how I had been feeling and I was rejuvenated heading further into Sidecut Metro Park for the about 2.5 mile out and back portion of the race. Phil was a God-send at this part of the race!
The out and back was a very difficult section of the race mentally as it was pretty much on your own. There was a water station at mile 12.5 on the way out and I had pretty much hit all of the aid stations along the way to that point and would continue to do so until the very end of the race. The wind and snow were not too bothersome at this point since I was heading west again. I got to the the half point, 13.1 miles and the man calling out the split times there said I was at 2:05:00 for my half. I was quite happy with that news and continued on to the turn-around at mile 14.5 trying simply to maintain my pace. As soon as I made the turn-around, the wind and icy-snow blasted me directly in the face. This is what we would all face for the remainder of the race from mile 14.5 on.
There was an aid station just after the turn-around and I took some Gatorade. I chatted with a woman for about a half mile while along this stretch trying to preoccupy myself with something other than the miserable conditions we were running in and how progressively sorer my leg was becoming. I thought about Cassy and the fact that I was running this because I could, and she could not. I thought about all my friends, family, and blogging and RA running friends that were thinking about and praying for me, and I tried to maintain my pace into the driving wind. I got to the aid station at mile 16 still remarkably maintaining around a 9:30 pace and saw a couple of Chelsea's XC teamates and their mom, Kate, Erinn, and Mrs. Calhoun, manning the aid station there and cheering for me. It was good to see some familiar faces and to have them cheering me on! After all, I've been doing it for them for years now!
Finally, I was coming up the hill that took me out of Sidecut Metro Park! It seemed like I was down in there forever! I was now back in the city of Maumee and now heading up Dudley Road toward River Road around mile 17 to head back into downtown Toledo. My leg was really starting to hurt me and I lost a lot of wind in my sails from my journey into and out of Sidecut, but I was still maintaining a 9:45 pace. Phil got this next photo of me as well and, I barely even remember him taking it, although I must have known he was because I was faking it and, giving him a thumbs up. Hehe.
Somewhere around mile 16 - 17 the snow changed to a cold, wind driven rain which we were running directly into. My posse, which had now grown to include the Gamble family van - Kim, Wayne, Brandon, Emily, and Racel, along with Kallie Johnston - were around mile 17.5 cheering their heads off for me. It was definitely a lift and they were so awesome, but my leg pain was beginning to unravel me physically. Wayne ran alongside of me for a bit and was telling me how awesome I was doing, that I was on a 9:40 race pace, and that I was looking strong and great.
At mile 18, my right leg became excruciatingly painful. It felt as though with every foot strike, whether heel or forefoot (an RA joke), that someone was whacking me as hard as they could with a sledgehammer. I was still able to run, but was now favoring my right leg severely. Mile 18 I was able to muster a 9:43 pace. Mile 19 I had declined to a 9:55 pace. Both Leo and Vicki and the Gamble van passed me here and asked if there was anything they could do. I asked if I could borrow a pair of legs. Notta. I was pretty well delirious with pain at this point. The Johnston van posse had headed up the road and were apparently on their way to the finish about the time I got to mile 20. Gambles were riding alongside me and somewhere into mile 20, my right hamstring seized fully in cramp and I stopped dead in my tracks. Wayne and Kim asked if I was alright and I told them I had a major cramp in my right hamstring. I was lightly stretching it out and shaking it out to get the cramping to stop and it subsided.

I walked on, for the first time in the race, to make sure that it didn't cramp up right away again, knowing that my ability to run the rest of the race through was done. My head was racing thinking of what I could do, of reading someone's Columbus Marathon report that this happened to as well in the latter stages of the race and not being able to do anything about it. Gambles must have called the Johnston posse van, because they had turned around and come back and were at an intersection ahead of me when Tammy got out of the ran and ran up the sidewalk to me. There was such a look of concern on her face for me that it overwhelmed me. She was nearly in tears telling me I was gonna be fine, that I could do this, that I would finish. I began jogging again hobbled by my right leg pain and the cramp and she jogged along with me on my right telling me how proud she was of me. I was in tears and looked over at her and just said, "I love you soooo much." She cried and again, encouraged me and told me how proud she was of me.

She asked if I was going to be ok and I said I would be fine. She said they were going to go on ahead to the finish and that she'd see me at the finish. I said, "Ok, I'll see you at the finish." The Johnston van posse headed off to the finish and I continued on as best I could with Gambles next to me. They drove on up ahead a bit and Leo and Vicki pulled up by me. Vicki asked if there was anything they could do and I again jokingly asked for a fresh paid of unbroken legs. They laughed. My fleece gloved hands were soaked and frozen to the bone as were my feet and Leo said he had a pair of Gortex mittens in the car and Vicki said she also had a pair of Gortex gloves and asked if I would like them. I was all over that! Vicki swapped me the gloves and immediately my hands felt better which made me feel slightly better as well. They went on ahead.

The next few miles were mostly walking with some lame joggin, in a literal sense due to the pain in my right leg, until I would have another cramp, which were now playing no favorites and gladly moved to my left leg as well to "balance things out" and "keep things fair" with my right leg. Friend, Tim Dawes, had now shown up on the course and was cheering me along as well. Fellow firefighter and friend, Matt Menchaca, and his wife, Amy, were also along this horrible stretch of race to encourage me onward. Gambles kept with me as well. I did the best I could to jog when I could.

It was the darkest period/stretch of running that I have ever been through. I was still more than 4 miles out and thought about bagging the race at this point and hopping in Gamble's van and taking a DNF for the race. I was hurting so very badly and just wanted to get out of the weather and warmed. I thought about Cassy. I thought about the miles and miles I had run over the winter in snow and ice and wind and rain and sleet. I thought about all the people that were pulling for and praying for me, many of you who are reading this right now. I determined not to quit. I had come too far and this race was not just for me, but for Cassy, my family who have put up with all my training and complaining, and all of you as well that came alongside of me to support me and encourage me in this endeavor. I plodded on remembering a saying related to me in my mens' group from church a few years ago... "forward is forward." It made a great deal of sense to me at that point.

Gambles left me at just under 4 miles to go stating they were heading to the finish. I continued on entirely on my own alternating walking as fast as I could and jogging when I felt my body would hold up to it. Race participants in front of and behind me were doing the same... just doing what they could at that moment to press on to the finish. At one of the next major intersections, there was a cop tying one of the runner's shoes because he was either too sore to bend over and do it himself, or his hands were too cold that he could not do it for himself. I got inside mile 24 I think and was feeling quite lonely and desperate to be done and out of the weather. That is when I looked up and saw Phil on his bike at an upcoming intersection!

I was stunned and overjoyed! He ended up rolling along on his bike next to me as I either (mostly) walked or jogged chatting about our running, our families, our work, our injuries, our goals. Before I knew it he was telling me I was coming to the sidewalk to make a right onto which would lead down to the riverside sidewalk to make a left onto and down toward the finish. We headed down the sidewalk toward the river, he said Tammy was up ahead at the corner of where the sidewalks meet. I was so delirious, I didn't really even realize who was there. Phil said that he was going to leave me now with my family and friends and I thanked him as he departed toward the finish on his bike. He was most certainly an angel on two wheels for me that day in addition to all of my other friends and family that were out there.

I met Tammy at the corner of the sidewalks, I think she asked me if I was ok, I think I said that I was and was ready to jog in. I had about a quarter of a mile left to the finish. She began jogging with me and as we got up the riverwalk a ways, my whole posse out along the race course that day joined with me telling me I could do it, they were so proud of me, handing me a "This Runs for You Cassy" sign and, as I turned the last corner heading away from the river toward the finish chute, I could hear the race announcer saying, "and here comes first time marathoner, Rick Velich, 41, from Temperance and, this run's for you, Cassy!"

I made a right turn up the walk and jogged into the finish chute in around 4:38:00. The race volunteers tore off my race bib info, gave me my medals and a mylar blanket, and I came out of the chute to the congratulatory hugs of my family and friends, and my new friend, Eric, who had graciously hung around after finishing his own race nearly an hour earlier. I think he was still hypothermic as was I after finishing my first marathon. Eric and my friends encouraged me to get inside the hotel and get some food in me, which I gladly did because it was warm and dry and I was exhausted and couldn't stop my uncontrollable shivering. I was now a marathoner. It was a very good day.

Edited 04/15/08 (Happy Tax Filing Deadline Day everyone!) to add the link to my running log notes and race splits times here for anyone interested in seeing the crash and burn finish "on paper". :)

The official race results are also here on this link.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Time was 4:38:**. I'll post more later. I'm freezing and can't stop shivering. Conditions were pretty brutal... just ask JK from RA. He'll confirm. He finished in like 3:43:**. Getting in a hot bath now.

More to come...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Locked and Loaded... Bring It On!

I slept till almost 9:00 a.m. this morning after having gone to bed last night around 11:30 after the news! I suppose I was making up for the night before when I didn't fall asleep until about 3:00 a.m. and getting up at 6:30. Lots of stuff running through my head night before last.

Had a cup of coffee with Tammy when I got up and asked if she would go with me on my final run. She accepted. We changed and headed out around 10:00. Here's my notes from my training log for my final pre-race run before the marathon tomorrow:

Final training run before the marathon tomorrow. Very easy 3.25 with Tammy, who I was SO glad to run with this morning. It seemed only fitting since she has been so supportive of my efforts throughout this whole crazy training period. Me bursting in the door at the end of a workday and blurting out, "I'm going for my run", and she so lovingly and patiently working around my running with dinners, shuttling Lindsey to practices, and what not. She has been the BEST! So, I am so very thankful to have done this final run before the race with her. Thank you, Honey, for YOUR perseverance throughout the last 6 1/2 months! I love you! So, the run felt really good. It was 43 and lightly raining, with light to moderate winds out of the west, which is the way tomorrow is likely to be, but a bit cooler to start and a chance of snow early. How fitting is that?!? I had shorts on, a t, and a long sleeved t, and was quite comfortable by the end of our run. I felt physically as good as I think I could feel and mentally, I am ready. Locked and loaded and ready to go tomorrow. No splits, I left Garmin to sleep in this morning cause she has to get up early tomorrow and go to work. :) Next run notes will be from my first marathon.

There's really not much more to say. I pray that I feel as well and calm tomorrow morning as I do this morning and the Lord sees me through the race tomorrow. Oh, I do want to thank Jeremy and Cindy Floyd for the beautiful flowers they sent me yesterday (I'll post pics later), and Wayne Gamble for all his logistical efforts in mapping spectator sites along the race course for my family and friends and making signs at his print shop for me, and ALL of you who have followed this blog and my journey to the starting line tomorrow. Thank you for your encouragement, support, love, and prayers along the way, and tomorrow. I have a lump in my throat thinking about how blessed I am by you ALL. Thank you especially to my family... Lindsey, Chelsea, and Tammy, the Lord has blessed me so much with each one of you. I love each of you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you for your love and support!

I have put in 859.8 miles in training runs over the past 6 1/2 months. I am ready! Put your sneakers on Cass... we have a race to run tomorrow!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On The Running Front - Sorry Tami-Sue

My final taper week. Man! It is hard to believe I have only a couple of days till the race. I only had 3 runs remaining this week before my race on Sunday. Tuesday I did 3 miles and Wednesday I did 4 miles, both of which went well and I probably ran too fast. One final 2 mile run will be completed on Saturday morning. In keeping with "tapering wisdom" that I have read, these final runs in this last week, though I ran too fast (for me), were still quite sluggish-feeling in that my legs felt heavy, I felt heavy, I didn't feel as though I was getting good, quick foot turnover. This didn't trouble me too much though because I have been expecting this feeling.

As mentioned in the last post as well, I have also been on an emotional roller-coaster this week (sorry family). I'm euphoric one moment and, the next, utterly dark and desperate. I've expected this as well from what I have read. I think my nature, as a pretty emotionally unguarded person, plays right into this as well.

I am so excited for this race, for running it in Cassy's honor, for facing this giant, for overcoming my injury-adversity, that I cannot wait to get to the starting line! I've still had my moments of self-doubt though. That heading off into the unknown, uncharted territory, those last never before run 5.2 miles that may not bring to it the kind of ending I have prepared, prayed, and hoped for come Sunday. Those nagging little "what if's". They don't last long and haven't had a strong impact on me, but they are still present. That is why your comments, your encouragement, those signs made by Mrs. Holmes's (I'm not sure about the whole s - non-plural possessive thingy so, if I am incorrect in what I have been typing, please forgive me. Besides, it's my blog and I can type how I want to. Hmm, sounds like there might be a song in there?!?) students, and your offers of prayer and support mean the world to me at this point. Your confidence builds mine. "You raise me upppppppp, so I can climb a mountain..." Sorry, another song came to mind.

But seriously, for all of you that have come along for the ride, that have taken the time to share in this journey of mine, to offer kind words of love and support, please know how truly thankful I am for you. When I reflect back on this journey and beginning my training back in October, it just seems surreal. All those training runs beginning in heat and humidity, in driving winds and rain, squeezing a 9 mile run in after work on a Friday night in the dark and cold, and long runs on loner Saturday mornings in the dead of a Michigan winter, through snow storms, ice, and freezing cold temps and wind chills to where my eyelids would freeze shut, from runs where I felt like I could run forever, to runs where I was hobbling so badly and my leg hurt so badly that I was literally crying out to God to take away the pain and allow me to get through my training.

The training runs almost seem as though they were high school... you know, like you were there, but now feels like you were never there at all. It all comes to a head Sunday though. Thank you to all of you - my family especially, my friends, my new online running "dot-comrades" - who have found your way to this point with me and helped me get to the starting line. Without your encouragement, I could not have gotten this far. Thank you for helping me get to where Cassy cannot. I pray the Lord blesses my efforts on her behalf this Sunday and that, in some way, through me, she is able to feel the wind on her face, her legs and feet moving beneath her, and her arms pumping ever closer toward that finish line with every step.

Thank you again everyone, from the bottom of my heart. My race bib number for Sunday.

"I can do all things, through Christ who strenghtens me."
Phillipians 4:13

It Was A Very Good Day - Another Long Post - Sorry

I would take 10 bad Mondays for 1 incredible day, as the day I had today. I woke up to the realization that it was my most lovely and beloved bride's 40th birthday and that she has been a blessing in my life now for 24 years! As I sipped my first cup of coffee and went to our front picture window to survey the weather outside I noticed a bunch of black, round objects in our front yard that I mistook for wild-turkeys for a brief moment. Come on, cut me some slack, it was not quite light yet! They were balloons our friends, the Gambles, had lovingly put in the lawn as a reminder of Tammy's right of passage into a new decade of existence.

I finished up my work for the day after posting about Tammy's birthday and kissing the girls goodbye as they left for school. I had a toasted raisin cinnamon bagel and coffee with my morning devotional, which was on Biblical references to listening and very applicable to me and my life. I always strive to be an active and attentive listener, and not interject, but don't always get it right. It's a Giesel trait inherited from my Grandfather and my mother.

I was running a tad late getting into my dear friend, Mrs. Holmes's 4th grade class. I vounteer in her class once a week with some of her students at Longfellow Elementary in Toledo. I've been pretty emotional this week and was so thinking and reflecting about so many things as I drove from my home to Longfellow. As I entered her classroom I was greeted by a sea of signs her students had made to wish me well and encourage me in my upcoming marathon on Sunday. I was overwhelmed by their gesture. This, unfortunately, is but a sample of the signs from the kids as there is no way I could get them all into one picture.
These are primarily from the students that I work with from week to week, but the whole classroom - 30ish of them - had made signs for me. I was moved beyond words, but not beyond tears. You kids are awesome, incredible, thoughtful, and I cannot express to you all enough how much this meant to me and encourages me to do my very best in this race! So... A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MRS. HOLMES AND HER 4TH GRADE STUDENTS!!! YOU ALL ROCK!!! Thank you all so very much for your support.

I left the Longfellow building in tears feeling totally blessed and headed off to Target to pick up some Powerbar Gels, my running fuel of choice, as they do not carry them at Dave's Running Shop, when I picked up my race packet last night, along with a new pair of SmartWool socks for the race. I found my gels, picked them up, a birthday card for Tammy, and stumbled upon some pretty good deals on running shorts and a long sleeved top, so I splurged and picked them up for myself as well. I then headed to my favorite floral shop, Aldi (for those of you not familiar with Aldi, it is a no-frills grocery store chain that is very inexpensive with high-quality foods and products, including cut flowers), to pick up some flowers for Tammy for her birthday.

I got my flowers and headed off to my next appointment at my chiropractor, Dr. Daryl Lajiness, D.C., at Lifestyle Chiropractic - the best chiropractic office in Bedford Township and the greater Toledo-area. I got the bonus pleasure of seeing Dr. Reyna, Dr. Daryl's lovely wife, who isn't in the office much anymore, and explained to her that I was getting a tune up before my first marathon on Sunday. She wished me well and said they would be praying for me. Dr. Daryl tuned me up and took great care with me and also provided me with a spray bottle of Bio-Freeze for my leg and joints for the race, knowing that I have been babying my right lower leg through the last third of my training. Then, as I was scheduling my next appointment and Angela had overhead that our friend Carol (she's like my non-maternal mother), who was in the office when I came in, say to Dr. Daryl that she had gotten me a massage gift certificate for after my race. The massage therapist is someone who Dr. Daryl's office deals with so Angela provided me with another certificate for a massage! I was again, overwhelmed by kindness and thoughtfulness.

I headed on home around noon and, to my pleasant surprise, Tammy was already home from work. I gave her a kiss, and her flowers, and showed her my purchases and signs from the kids at Longfellow, after regaining my composure from crying... again. We were having her parents over for supper and she was trying a new shrimp and pasta dish and needed to pick up some items for that so, we headed off to Kroger together. I just love being with her. We stopped at our local fruit/vegetable market on the way home and picked up a few needed items there as well and made our way home.

After getting everything put away and dinner stuff ready to go, we had about 40 minutes before the girls got home from school so, we spent some "quality time together" . I want to keep my blog on the PG side so, that is all that I will say about that. :)

Anywhoo... the girls got home from school, Tammy prepared dinner (I know, I know! Shame on me for not cooking for her on her birthday, but she came up with the dish and I am taking her out on Saturday to our favorite restaurant so, again, cut me some slack!) while I cleaned up my office and got some odds and ends done that I have been putting off.

Mom and Dad (her's, but still Mom and Dad to me, too) came over about 5:30, and yes, at this time I was helping Tammy with the finishing touches on dinner. We had a wonderful dinner, my Mom and Dad, who just migrated home earlier this week from their winter-Texan habitat, joined us at 7:00 for birthday pie (Tammy's preference), and she opened her gifts. She got an iPod Nano from the girls and I, an accessory carrier, two pair of Cabela's shorts for summer, an iTunes giftcard from Chelsea, along with a very beautiful and thoughtful card, a dozen yellow roses from Lindsey, along with a cute card, flowers from me, and from my Dad.
It was a very good day. I am so blessed.

Happy 40th Birthday, Honey!

It was 24 years ago on this very date that I first began to fall in love with you, Honey. LeAnn inviting me to your 16th birthday "party" was one of the best things that could have ever happened in my life. Of course, little did she know that you and I would end up together and not her and I. All those hang up phone calls... ah, the memories.

I was so obsessed with you back then and continue to be to this day. You are my heart's desire. You amaze me everyday in all you accomplish, your heart for your family, your care for your family, giving selflessly of yourself in all that you do while rarely complaining and never asking for yourself, while growing more in beauty inside and out every day.

I will never be able to express my gratitude for the Lord having put you in my life to stay 24 years ago. You've persevered with me through very difficult, trying, and ugly times. You've been as forgiving as only Christ himself could forgive. You've been an awesome example of a loving wife and mother to our daughters and you inspire me by the example of your own life daily. You are to me, in a word... amazing, and truly a gift from God!

You are a blessing to everyone who has the privilege of having you in their life... especially me! I love you more now than I ever have and I thank God for you. Happy 40th Birthday, my love!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shout Out To The Running Lawyer

I just wanted to take a moment, and a teensie bit of cyber-space, to give a shout out and mad props, and whatever else the kids are giving out these days as celebratory things - provided they don't result in an STD! - to my online running inspiration and pal, Sara, who completed her first marathon this past Sunday in St. Louis!! WOOT - WOOT! She's a runner, of many, I have met through RunningAHEAD, my online running log site and running forum, that has been such an inspiration to me in my own running. I emplore you to read her marathon race report on her blog as it is amazing! I would expect nothing less being the amazing young woman that she is. ;-)

Congratulations, Sara! I'm proud of you! You, my runnin' friend, are a MARATHONER!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Less Than A Week!

With less than a week to go, I'll admit that I am getting a bit jittery at times, but overall, still at peace about the race. Our weekend was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and highs of 61 and 60 Saturday and Sunday. I got in a final mid-long run Sunday of 8 miles. I felt pretty well, same knagging leg pain, but again it subsides a bit as I get into my runs around mile 5. My knees and hips were protesting a bit and my leg muscles, mostly quads, got a bit fatigued, which is unusual. I think this is just the reduction in my consistent higher mileage running. All things considered, it was good run on a glorious day and I was pleased with it and being able to run in shorts and a t-shirt!

All that I have remaining training-wise this week are a 3 mile run on Tuesday, a 4 mile run on Wednesday, a 2 mile run on Saturday, and then the marathon on Sunday. They have early registration packet pick-up, where you get your race number bib and race goodies, at Dave's Performance Footgear, the local running shop where Tammy and I got our last pair of shoes, this Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I think I'll head out there on Wednesday since Thursday is Tammy's birthday, her 40th, and we're having her parents over for dinner. I also need to pick up a box of Powerbar Gels and a low cut pair of Wright Sock running socks for the race. I ran yesterday in regular "no-show" footies cause my running socks were dirty and the bottom of my feet were sore.

I'll probably drive the course sometime this week as I meant to do that this past weekend, but ran out of time, to get an idea of "the lay of the land" of the course. Perhaps I'll do that later today. It's supposed to be beautiful again today with a possible high of 70! Forecast for race day as of now is starting time it should be in the low 30's with a high of 44 and a chance of rain. Sounds perfect to me provided the chance of rain remains just that. A light drizzle would be ok, but an all out rain would not. Not much I can do about that aspect of the race though.

I am really anxious to hear how Sara did yesterday at her St. Louis Marathon! I was thinking about and praying for her all weekend. So, come on Sara! Get that race report posted. The suspense is killing me!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


When I got home yesterday from work, this is how I found my DYD (dear youngest daughter) and DOG (dog). Again, dad does not condone the doggy use of the couch, but since he is on it more than I am, I guess I best get used to it. Glad you two had a relaxing afternoon following a hard day at school (for Linds) and a hard day laying around sleeping (for Carsen).


My running "dot-comrade", Marion, uses this term frequently on her blog I have noted. So, when I saw this license plate yesterday up in Harrison Township while out conducting inspections for work, I busted out laughing and just had to get a pic of it. Perhaps she could get a customized South Carolina plate for her Explorer MommyMobile? It apparently is already taken here in Michigan though. Ironically enough, I saw this and took this pic at a McDonald's! BAH! Hey, a guy's gotta "go" somewhere while out on the road all day. Then, like an idiot, I buy another coffee because I feel guilty about just using their facilities. Then I get the whole catch 22 thing goin' there.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Little Over a Week To Go

After all this time, it's hard to believe that this Goliath is as close in front of me as it is now. It's strange, I've been at peace about the impending marathon even though I am not 100% physically. I am confident I will get through the race. I won't do as well as I was hoping to and preparing for given the state of my leg, but I'm ok with that. I am really looking forward to getting to the starting line. I just pray there is decent weather. Tonight's would be nice, overcast, 41 degrees, and mild winds out of the north, though east or west will be better for the race.

I did 5.25 miles this evening and it went pretty well. Here are the notes and splits from my log (I know Tami Sue, you don't like to read about running):

Felt very good despite the continued leg pain which remains about a 4-5/10 during my recent runs. Slight left achilles knagging as well, this is like the second or third consecutive run for that. Nothing horrible though and, other than those couple of issues I felt really good and very strong, and feel like I am ready to "pull the trigger." I just wish my leg were agreeing with the rest of me. I'm wondering if my heart rate readings were erroneous because I was not exerting myself badly at all and felt "normal", if there is such a thing for me. It usually averages in the mid-150's though when I do an easy. Max of 178 I normally have when I have kicked and I didn't do anything near that type of exertion. So, this heart rate thing is puzzling to me. I know I haven't run consistently in a couple of weeks, but it shouldn't be that far off what it was running. I did tighten the strap up a bit before my run, maybe that caused a skewed reading. Dunno. Splits:

1: 9:21
2: 9:22
3: 9:38
4: 9:35
5: 9:31
Last 1/4: 9:22

I'll be doing my final medium long run of 8 miles sometime this weekend, provided my leg tolerates it ok, if not I won't proceed with it, and then low mileage for the rest of next week leading up to the race.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

McDonald's Me No More

(EDIT) - This post will no longer make sense since I removed the original picture I posted with it, which was thoroughly distasteful, of a faceless, very large man lugging around his big, obese belly in a wheelbarrel with the Golden Arches of McDonald's in the background and a parody of their catch phrase "I'm lovin' it" changed to, "I'm luggin' it". Just so you know I haven't completely lost my mind. At least my description of the picture, which was truly McNasty, will give you an idea of what the heck I'm talking about below. (END EDIT)

Like my new figure? Heh! Just kidding. This is about how I feel right now given I've only run once in the past week, a measly 4 miles yesterday that went OK, coupled with lunch at McDonald's today (Quarter Pounder with cheese and extra grease, a cheeseburger, and a large fry, split three ways) and I feel like the dude in the picture. "I'm luggin' it."

Yesterday's run went ok, I was sore, and today I'm tight and a little sore. I was going to go again today, but my leg is still slightly troublesome so, I figure I best not push my luck. I'll give 'er a go again tomorrow. It was beautiful today, too. Poo! It was 50 and sunny! Woohoo!

Instead, I went grocery shopping with Tammy after tormenting the kids I volunteer with from my pal, Mrs. Holmes, 4th grade classroom at Longfellow Elementary, then the superbly tasty and nutritional lunch at McNasty's (as the girls call it), then on to Target for household stuff. Tam and I took her Mom along so she could get out of the house. Dad went up north to the cabin for a bit.

Now I'm off to pick up my good friend, Jeremy, to head over to Tim Horton's for coffee and men's group. It may just be two mens tonight, but two is better than one.

p.s. - sorry for the nasty photo and... even sorrier (word/no word?) if that is you.