Well, I did it. I ran my first marathon on Saturday morning up in Traverse City, MI. It was a definite challenge, and though I did have to walk a few times in the last 6 miles, the training through Team in Training was undeniably helpful. Thank you all for the support and donations to the cause you have given throughout my training. It would have been much more difficult and less enjoyable without it.The day began around 5:20 AM to the sound of my alarm clock. I hadn’t sleep very well. I’m not sure if it was anxiousness, the bed (too soft for me to be comfortable) or the air conditioning fan that sounded like a jet engine. All I know is that 5:20 AM came way too soon for going to bed around 10 PM. I jumped in the shower, threw on my clothes that I had laid out the night before, and met the rest of the TNT team in the hotel lobby at 5:45 AM. I ate two hard-boiled eggs and some bread (I usually have fried eggs on toast) while we waited for everyone to arrive.Jennifer drove me to the starting line at the Northwestern Michigan College campus, picking up her sister Robin and Robin’s husband Andy from their hotel along the way. The temperature was a nice 52 F at the 7 AM starting time and gradually warmed up during the morning (reaching about 67 F when I finished). There were few clouds in the sky and the humidity wasn’t too bad.I realized once I got to the event that I had forgotten my bandages back in the hotel room. Fortunately I bumped into Coach Ken when I got there. While he went to track some down, I took a slow lap or two around the track near the starting line to warm up my muscles before I stretched.My friends Matt and Kelly also decided to participate in the event, though Matt chose to do the half marathon and Kelly decided to do the 10 K. The half marathon participants were bussed to their starting line at the marathon half-way point so I didn’t see Matt before the race, but Kelly was able to track me down and wished me luck.I started and ran the majority of the race with the 3 people I did most of my training with: Kim, Susan and Julie. Coach Ken also stuck with us for the first mile or two, taking a few pictures of us along the way. Jennifer, Robin and Andy had found a spot along the sidelines near the start. They took a few photographs and video taped me running by.There were water/Gatorade stops every 2 miles or so. I took at least some water at each one, more so near the end. For fuel, I had 2 Organic Food Bars with me. I ate 1/3 of one every 4 miles. I wasn’t a big fan of the Omega 3/Flax bar, but the Active Greens with Chocolate one was pretty good.For the first portion of the race, we keep a pretty good pace. We started out relatively slow for the first mile or so but soon picked up the pace. Jennifer, Robin and Andy were able to get to the spectator spot between miles 6 and 7 to cheer me on some more.Between mile 8-9 Matt and I passed each other going in opposite directions and cheered each other on.Sue dropped behind a little before the half way point. For Kim, Julie and I, our time at the half way point (13.1 miles) was 2:00:02 (9:10 min/mile).By mile 16 or so, we were starting to feel tired, though I think I felt it more than Kim and Julie. They had brought their mp3 players with them and chose to put them to use around then. I had decided to forgo the mp3 player, heeding the threat of disqualification by the event coordinators. Apparently because the roads along the course were not closed, the event’s insurance wouldn’t cover the use of headphones. Regardless, quite a few people still used them, counting on the likelihood that the would not be confronted about it. In hindsight, I think I really could have benefitted from having my iPod to get me through the last few miles.At this point, Kim and Julie pulled ahead while I started to lag behind. By mile 19 I was doing all I could to convince myself to keep running. Kaija and my parents had joined Jennifer, Robin and Andy cheered me on as I passed by. At that point I was in rough shape and needed to take a leak. I made a pit stop to use a nearby port-a-potty. It was very difficult to start running again.I ran to the 20 mile marker and decided I had to walk a little if I was going to finish. For the next 6 miles I would walk a minute or two then run to the next mile marker and repeat.Sue caught up to me while I was walking with about 1.5 miles left to go. She offered to help get me through to the end. I started running again but was still feeling a little lightheaded and ended up walking a bit more, letting her continue on. With about 1.2 miles to go, I decided I was going to try to run the rest of the way. My mom and Kaija met up with me once more and cheered me on. Jennifer and my dad were waiting for me in a park just around the corner to cheer me on as well. Robin and Andy had gone back to the finish line to catch me there.Coach Ken met up with me just as I was entering the NMC campus once again. He definitely helped me tremendously through that last mile. The last 200 yards to the finish were on the track. Coach Ken let me go on my own and ran back to help out the next TNT member to come by. At this point it was all I could do to keep my feet moving one in front of the other. I heard my name and cheers from various TNT members as I rounded the bend on the track.I finished the second half with a time of 2:23:41.5 (10:58 min/mile), for a final time of 4:23:43.85 (10:04 min/mile). I was expecting to finish with a time around 4:20, and I was pretty darn close. I was a little disappointed that I ended up walking for a portion of the event and that I hadn’t beat that 4:20 time, but am nonetheless happy that I just finished the event. The complete results for the Bayshore Marathon have been posted on the event’s web site.After crossing the finish line, I was given a finisher’s medal and had the timing chip on my shoe removed. I headed to the TNT tent in the middle of the field and immediately started downing water, orange slices, bananas and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I met up with Kim, Sue, Julie and my family and just took it easy in the shade of the tent for a while. Matt and Kelly came back to say hello after getting a chance to shower after their events. I stuck around a little longer to cheer on a few more TNT team mates and then went back to the hotel to shower and nap.Recovery was pretty quick. My knees, lower back, and muscles around my hips were a bit sore for the rest of the day. Most of that discomfort was gone by the next day. I still don’t plan to run for the next week but will probably gradually get back into it sometime next week. I will enjoy the time off from running. The training was understandably tiring and I’ll be looking forward to having more energy at the end of the day.Robin took a number of photographs during the event. I haven’t had a chance to look through them yet but will post them soon.Several people have asked me whether I would run another marathon. Though those last 6 miles were one of the most gruelling physical challenges I’ve put myself through, I think I’d like to do it again, if only to see how much I can improve (and run the whole race). I’ve gotten to the point that I actually enjoy running and don’t merely do it to stay in shape. In the future I’d like to see what I can do about improving my pace, maybe running a few half marathons and other shorter races that don’t require so much recovery time. My fellow TNT team mates have also talked about doing the Detroit Free Press Marathon 5 person relay.
A lightning storm came through our area on the evening of Mother’s Day. We came home from celebrating the day with my parents to find shards of wood scattered across our yard. At first glance we thought the wind had knocked branches out of the notoriously messy cottonwoods in our front yard. Upon closer inspection we realized that two of the trees had actually been hit by lightning and ruptured when the sap inside boiled. It was getting dark quickly and I didn’t have time to grab my tripod so the photographs from that night were taken hastily by hand. I took a few more photographs the next morning.We discovered as we put Kaija down to bed that night that one of the wood shards had struck her bedroom window, creating a 6″ diameter hole in the outer pane. Fortunately the inner pane remained intact and the shattered glass remained outside.To add a bit of humor to the story, as we drove up the driveway and were taken aback by the whole situation I exclaimed, “Holy cow!” Kaija immediately asked, “Where’s the cow, dad? Cow in our yard?”. Later on, when Kaija saw the hole in her bedroom window, she said, “Poly Cow?” At first we were a little confused. Then she added, “Poly Cow did it?”. We couldn’t help but laugh and say, “Yes, Kaija. The Holy Cow did it.”