Saturday, April 2, 2011

How the hell did I get here? What a year it has been!

Who is the Night Train?
     Please excuse me as I'm still trying to figure this blogging thing out.  Never had a blog spot before and never thought I would create one,  but there is a first time for everything right?   Well I guess I can officially call myself a "runner" now.  At 42 years of age, I completed my first half marathon one week ago.  Though I have been in a couple of organized run events already- (Dallas Turkey Trot 8 miler thanksgiving 2010)(Mayor's Race 5K Dec 2010), this one will always be my "baby". 
     Anyway just so you know where I have been.  Never really been an athlete.  In fact I pretty much sucked in sports during my adolescent period.  I was always the kid picked last.  However I did run a little track, .  At 5'6" (and I haven't grown an inch since 8th grade) I pretty much decided sports wasn't my thing.  Went through my twenties and thirties never concerned about my health, however I think because I ate somewhat healthy, I kept myself up.  Never exercised.
     Last year my employer moved us into a brand new state of the art office building which included a fitness center.  Being that I was too cheap to shell out hundreds of dollars for a health club membership, I decided to take advantage of this "free" resource.  On 03/01/2010 I took a walk on the treadmill for about a mile and a half and lifted a few weights.  To be honest, I got into the weightlifting more than I did the walking.  I absolutely HATED running, especially being that I am asthmatic.  So I went about 3 months on and off with the run/walk combination but was consistent with the weight training.  The muscles came quickly.  Especially in my arms and shoulders.

Runwell Training Program
On September 28th, 2010 my employer who is a major healthcare insurance company, announced that it would bring in the Runwell Group and offer employees a FREE 6 weeks training program with the goal race being "The Capital One Bank - Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot 5K & 8 Mile Run" on Thanksgiving Day.  I saw this and the word "free" and said "what do I have to lose?"  The program was OK, it really didn't teach me anything about running form, which is really what I was interested in.  But it did teach me one thing.  I could run long distances if I just kept training and you didn't have to be a superstar to run in a marathon.  There were several folks in the group who had run 1/2 marathons and full marathons.  Hell, I didn't even know "half" marathons existed.  There were some who had been running only a year, some who had been running for 20 years.  So I ran with these guys once a week and ran 3-4 times on my own at home.  

My New Love
     Somewhere during that 6 weeks I found my  new love.  I was running a looped route in my neighborhood which was exactly 3.1 miles.  I had no idea that was the equivalent to a 5K. During one run, I decided to extend my run more than the normal 3.1 miles that I was used to.  I kept going and suddenly the run became "peaceful".   I know now that only a person who runs on a regular basis would understand this.   I think I ran about 5 miles on that run that night.  And the only reason I stopped was because I knew my wife would wonder where I was because I told her I would be back in about 30 minutes.  I could have ran another mile or two I think.  I couldn't believe it. THAT got me hooked.

Run, run , run 
     So here I go focused on training for this 5K coming up, I really wanted to do well.  About a week before my last workout session with The Runwell Group I set out to run a couple of the 3.1 mile loops around my house.  6.2 miles was my new number.  Well... toward the end of the run, I still had plenty left in the tank.  Hmm... should I go for another?  Next thing I know, I had completed 9.3 miles non stop running, no breaks, no walking.  Who woulda thunk it?  Not me.  So, right then and there I opted to run the 8miler instead of the 5K for the Turkey Trot.

Dallas  Turkey Trot
     Looking back at this "race" it seems funny now.  It was more of a fun run.  Very congested and not really that organized as the 13.1 that I finished a week ago.  It was cold, about 40 degrees, but I found out after about a mile into the run that cold weather is great to run in.  I'm actually a warm weather person and hate the wintertime, but I prefer to run in the cold.  I played around taking pics with my phone of everybody and everything along the whole run and didn't really take my time or pace seriously.  I ended up finishing in 1:22, a 10:18 pace.  About a week later I ran in a 5K race but didn't take it seriously either.  The night before I went to TGI Fridays with my aunt and had a large beer.  I was feeling the effect from drinking during that run.  However I still finished in :29 and a pace under 9:00.  Not bad...  

     Around that time I was introduced to Dailymile by a good friend who had also gotten the fitness bug.  One of the best things that ever could have happened.  Already being a Facebook addict, this was right up my alley.  It started out as mainly a place to log my runs.  The application that I had on my phone to log them wasn't cutting it.  I had no idea that this site would be my main source of motivation later.

13.1?  Why not?
     Shortly after the Turkey Trot, I was on Facebook and one of my friends on there who ran the trot also mentioned that she would be running in The Rock n Roll Dallas 1/2 Marathon for her birthday in March.  I had already run an 8 miler so I would think I could train to run 13.1 miles, no problem.  I decided to train for this as well and train seriously.  So I ran.  And I ran.  And I ran and ran and ran.  Over did it some and in early January, developed tendinitis in my right foot and had a slightly sprained ankle.  I was sidelined for two weeks.  Good thing that happened early in my training as I had planned on training hard for February and tapering off during the last couple weeks before the race.

My first 1/2
     Just like the Turkey trot, the weather took a sudden turn overnight.  The day before it was sunny and 80+ degrees, but a cold front came through and dropped the temperature to the mid 40s.  Perfect.  I got there about 10 minutes before the race started, so I didn't get to stretch as much as I normally did.  I would pay for that later I found out.  Started out at a steady pace.  I was very hydrated and was really fueled up from all the carb loading the day before.  No problems there.  I hit "Jedi" mode (comfortable running) as I call it around mile 4.  This run was really going well.  The route was so cool.  There was a rock band playing cover songs at every  mile marker.  It was so cool and fun.  Along the way were people on the road side cheering, people in their front yards waving us on.  I stopped only twice during the race to rehydrate at the fueling stations.  And stopped one other time and you will find out why in just a second.  Everything was going perfect until about mile 9, things started hurting from my knees down.  I worked through it.  
     The last three miles seemed like the hardest and the longest.  Felt like I would never get there.  Last mile.  I was always told to finish strong, so I picked up my pace a notch when all of a sudden about maybe a quarter mile from the finish.... Dammit!  Caught a cramp in my left calf.  I darn near tripped fell.  My phone/MP3 player went flying into the cheering crowd to the left of me who then became concerned.  I felt bad because I shouted out a couple of expletives and then noticed a couple of young kids in the crowd staring right at me.  One fellow in the crowd handed my phone back to me and I told him "just a cramp", I'm OK.  I massaged it out, stretched it, pissed because I just wasted almost 2 minutes of race time, then hauled ass to the finish line.   Finished in 2:08 with a 9:44 pace. Still a little upset because I know I was close to beating my personal record for a 13.1 in training, but it hit me shortly after I crossed the finish line and got my medal that I was i an elite club now.  
     Anyway, that's where it stands now.  I have plans to run the same Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 in November when it comes to San Antonio (about a 4 hour drive from Dallas).  

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.    lol 

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