Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Marathon

Congratulations! We raised over $3600 dollars for cancer research with Fred's Team and to support low income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.). Thank you for your amazing support. If you'd like to donate you still can! 

Donate to H.O.M.E.
Donate to Fred's Team

Training for a marathon always seems like a long time. And then suddenly it is upon you and over. And you wonder where the summer went and how the days are cold and grey. This year was no exception.

I trained more this year. My miles went up. I ran tempo runs and track repeats, long and short runs - really all the runs. I cut out the strong alcohols and tried to eat more consciously. I went to bed early. In short, I went all in.

A photo posted by newyorkroadrunners (@nyrr) on


I ran in the rain in Portland, and past deer in Atlanta. I ran in a tiny town in Maryland. I ran on the sand on the Isle of Palms looking into Charleston and on old train tracks in Travelers Rest. I ran up the mountain in Santa Cruz and over cliff like streets in San Francisco. I ran in New Jersey and in Connecticut. But mostly I ran in Central Park.
Thank you!
I ran the loop and the reservoir. I took the 72nd transverse and the 102nd. I did Harlem Hill every time. I loved the fast mile down to the lake. I tucked into Cat hill and made it. I ran past the horse carriages and the carousel. I ran through the tourists and the terrifying bicyclists. In all I logged right at 400 miles in Central Park. And I loved it.

I was hoping to hit my goal this year, hoping that the work I put in would be enough. I ran the numbers and things looked good. But as every pollster will tell you, predicting the future is not a simple science.
Found on the nycmarathon.org. I'm super famous and super in need of a haircut.

It rained in Portland and then I, and a few thousand new friends, missed a turn. Who knows what time I would have had if I had not needed to run 26.7 miles to reach the finish line. I pushed too hard when I thought I was going slow at the beginning. Perhaps I would have found the energy to push harder at the end if the clock had been below four hours. Maybe I would have made it. Maybe. But the officially "corrected" time is 3:57. And five minutes is five minutes.

Still, Portland, even in the rain, even with an extra half mile (uncorrected time of 4:01) was faster (by 12 seconds) than my Chicago time from last year. And that boded well for NYC.

What did not bode well was that I spent three of the next four weeks sick. I managed to catch a stomach virus and then the flu in rapid succession. I eased up on the running regimen by not running at all.



And Suddenly it was the morning of the NYC race. And I was waking up way before dawn. (It takes a stupidly long time to get to the start line. I love everything about the NYC marathon except getting to the start line.) I ate breakfast and double check that I had my watch and energy gels. I stepped out on the street and headed for the subway.

It never came. I arrived five minutes before the subway was scheduled to arrive. It didn't. I waited 25 minutes for the next train. I would miss the Fred's Team breakfast. While I wanted to celebrate with friends and apply silly tattoos, I could handle this setback. But then the train stopped. We were held for unknown reasons. And then the tracks on my insides started rumbling. There was another train arriving fast and there was nothing good about this train.

Danielle, David and I Even made it to NYRR's snapchat.

Sweating drops of pain and agony I begged the train to move. I promised God the world if I could just make it to a bathroom. The train started, stopped another time, and finally made it down the line.

The buses were to be outside of a hotel in Times Square. I didn't bring my phone as I didn't want to run with it, and I realized I had no clue of the name or location of the Hotel. I searched for the orange of our shirts. A few desperate blocks and I finally saw everyone gathering for the picture. But I would need to miss that too. I found a Fred's Teamer at the corner and asked her where the hotel was located. She asked "why?" Confused by her query I repeated my question "Where is the Hotel?" "Why?" she replied again. I barked with great urgency, "I need a bathroom!"

It was a photo finish.

And at 5:45am I just made it on to the bus. I had missed breakfast and the team picture but at least I wouldn't miss the race. The day could have started better. The day could have started much worse.

Pabst Blue Ribbon at mile 17

I was assigned in a very fast starting group. I was wave 1C. There was only B and A in front of me. I noticed that I was standing with the 3:00 pacers and behind me was the 3:30 pacers. I do not know why I was in this group. We waited there for almost an hour.

The cannon went off. The race started. I ran. Not knowing how sick I still was (leftover coughing and such) I aimed to start as if I was healthy. If the day went well I would have a shot at making my goal. If I turned out to be sicker than I thought then I would slow down. It was a plan.

Santa Cruz running partners.
The first miles went well. I held myself to pace letting the speedy runners shoot past. I kept my desired 8:45 minute/mile pace for at least the first 15k-20k. But I new I was in trouble long before that mark. At mile four I felt like I was giving the same effort I had given at mile 20 in Portland. And well before I reached the halfway point I was trying to decide when I would start walking. Things were going down hill.

I slowed but maintain a "running" style of movement until after I was to see some friends on 1st Avenue. I waved to A. and J. I took a shot of Beer with L. And then a few blocks up the road, and safely out of sight I started to walk.

One of the hotter runs of the year. Made an emergency stop to drink out of a lawn sprinkler.
I've never walked in a race before this marathon. I didn't know how to handle it mentally. I've never given up. And I am still wondering about the choice I made and how I made it and why. But in short I was tired and hurting and my skin was tingling all over and I felt sick.

I walked and jogged and walked again. I made it to the Bronx and jogged a bit. And then back in Manhattan I started walking. At this point I finally realized I had to give up totally. And so I did. And I was marginally happier for it. I let go of all goals and started eating everything anyone was passing out. I enjoyed a huge handful of peanut m&ms, some very tasty Pringles, and a banana. I tried to take in the cheers, the sun and the happy crowd.

Scenic Betterton Maryland
But I also thought of everything and how I was walking and how disappointed I was. I thought of My Uncle Mac and how he encouraged people to find their passion. I wondered if it was time for me to find a new passion. I felt beat and tired. I was sorry I hadn't met my fundraising goal. I was sad because work was hard and life was hard and this stupid race was hard. And nothing was going to plan. I thought of Filipa. And I cried each time I saw her smile and knew it was gone.

I planned to walk the long hill of 5th Avenue up and to Central Park. There I would jog the last two miles of the race. But my plan didn't hold. I was spotted by Lynn. With a ferocity incomparable, a love unrelenting, and a Scottish accent full of fire she jumped past a police officer and onto the road. She grabbed me by the arm. She screamed at me. She screamed for me to run. She pulled me forward. "I would give anything to switch places with you right now, to be right where you are! Run! Run! You are amazing! Run!"

So I ran.

I ran up the hill and entered the park. With each step I moved faster. And then there was the finish line and I was across it and K. found me and walked me back to the Fred's team tent.

Lynn started screaming at me in the middle of mile 24.
I've never bombed in a marathon until now. Everyone that runs marathons has bad marathons. And now I do too.

The next race will be better.

Thank you all again for so graciously donating. You monies now given do make a difference. I have met people whose lives are changed for the better because HOME was able to provide them with a safe and clean home to live in. I have met people whose lives have been saved because of cancer research. I know they thank you too.


Saturday, November 05, 2016

What I carry

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Last days to donate! Please give generously to H.O.M.E. and Fred's Team!

Important information:
How to find the tracking app.
Course Map
Bib # 15361
My start time is 9:50am
I'm the green wave (If you want to see me early in Brooklyn 'll be on the east side)
Around mile 16-17 I'll be running on the east side of the road.

I won't carry all the jelly. And I need three more energy gels. Where do I put my tattoos if I wear long sleeves?
I'm headed to the Expo today to pick up my bib and a few other things including the sticker that will get me into the Fred's Team recovery tent at the end. I'm very excited. I missed the tent two years ago when I ran with Footlocker.

The expo will be busy and chaotic, but there is nothing to be done about that. I just have to be brave. And then the marathon will be here and then even more quickly it will be over and the entire summer of training and eating and resting and all the blogging and monies will be put away. The sweaty runs, the freezing runs, the runs in Atlanta and Santa Cruz and the million laps of Central Park, the whole bit will be the past. I'm buying a bottle of scotch to celebrate.

I'm thinking of the things I'll carry tomorrow. I need to set out my shorts and choose whether to wear long or short-sleeves. I know which pair of shorts to wear. I like the ones with the many small pockets. The small pockets keep things from flopping around. And the many pockets allow me to bring all the energy gel packets I want.

But when it comes to running it is best to not carry too much. You can spot the new kids by their belts loaded with bottles filled with colorful liquids. Belts are complimented by handheld bottles with pockets for phones and batteries and more foods and whatever they could imagine they might need. Don't make that mistake. Run light. "Let us lay aside every weight..."

I hope that doesn't apply to the hopes and heartaches. I carry many. Everyone I know does. Some people write the names of lost loved ones on their shirts. It is pretty common when you support cancer research.

I've never run a long race without thinking of those I love. I tend to get emotional when physically exhausted. This race may be especially difficult. This week I've lost two friends, one last night. Everything hurts. Everything.

I hate that it is normal to miss so many people. I hate that death is a part of life. I hate how life blends joy and sadness. I want to remember well, to honor well, to live well. But I don't know how.

As always Uncle Mac, you are in my heart. May your joy for life become mine.

Christopher, you are in my heart.

Filipa, you are in my heart.

I am compassed about.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Parade of Nations

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

It's back! This week, donation matching up to $250. Make your donation go twice as far. Donate today! Don't let it go to waste! Last week ever!

I'm headed to the Parade of Nations tonight. Two years ago I was part of the parade because of Foot Locker and their Five Borough Challenge. Tonight Fred's Team invited me to join in. Two for two - not bad!



People pour into New York for the marathon from all over the world. To honor their dedication and the long flights taken, the marathon organizes a parade each year. Lots of smiling people waving, waving flags, and cheering: it is good for the soul.

Can you see me?! I'm the one hiding behind the professional runner - who is carrying the New York City flag.

In addition to the many different countries there are representatives from different running clubs (Fred's Team being one of them), the city, and even some elite athletes. There is music and special cultural dances. There are fireworks. It is quite a show. I'll try to take lots of pictures tonight so I can show you tomorrow!

Check out these beautiful people that came to cheer me on!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Race Face!

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

It's back! This week, donation matching up to $250. Make your donation go twice as far. Donate today! Don't let it go to waste!

Wednesday health report: marginally stronger. Still lots of phlegm and general feelings of sickness. Summoning strength of will to make this my game 5. Call me Jordan, Michael Jordan.

Everyone I know is posting glorious and victorious pictures of themselves running the marathon. Everyone looks fantastic and strong, and even happy. I wanted to get in on the action, but my New York city marathon photos are a bit less strong. Here is a collection of my race faces in no particular order.

Top, L-R: Confused, Moment of Death, furrow of agony, 2nd row: post death, listing ship, and pain cave.
This is the most majestic photo I could find. And it is completely staged. Fred's Team drills into you that you have to throw your hands up, smile, and look up at the finish line. We even ran the very end of the race multiple time just to know how to do it. In the moment of that photograph I wasn't able to respond to my own name, but at an instinctive level I pulled off the victory pose.
Fake it till you make it!

Important information:
How to find the tracking app.
Course Map
Bib # 15361
My start time is 9:50am
I'm the green wave (If you want to see me early in Brooklyn 'll be on the east side)
Around mile 16-17 I'll be running on the east side of the road.

Let me know where you will be (intersection and side) and I'll make sure to keep my eyes open for you!

Track Me (and Donate!)

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

It's back! This week, donation matching up to $250. Make your donation go twice as far. Donate today!

Don't forget to track my marathon progress on your phone! Especially if you are coming to see me run. This way you'll know roughly when I will arrive at your location. You won't need to stand outside for hours on end. In fact, if you plan it right it will just be a few minutes. That said, watching a marathon is pretty fun.  So get out there early and cheer for a bunch of random strangers.

How to find the tracking app.

At the moment I'm debating how much of this marathon I will run and how much I will jog/walk/slog. I'm still not completely over my cold from last week. My nose is a bit stuffed. I have a cough and I feel generally not great.

I will be very disappointed if I have to take it easy this time. Or rather, there is no taking it easy in a marathon. I'll be disappointed if I have to exhaust myself for a really slow time. I've wanted to improve my time so badly. I put in the miles the stretching, the resting, and the eating, all to reach my goal. And then in Portland the heavy rain and the extra long course through me. And now a few ill-timed colds may do the same in New York. 

I suppose there is always next year. But I'd rather be able to give the race everything - and fail - than to not be able to try. Fortunately there are still a few more days to go.


Needing extra encouragement I like looking back to happy times and things. The above photo is my first trip to Mt Hood. We camped overnight in this meadow on about 6-7 feet of snowpack. We played in the surrounding woods and as far up as we could get safely get on the mountain. I say "played" instead of hike because trail markers must have been too expensive. If we were ever on any trail it was by accident. Fortunately, the mountain provided a pretty good frame of reference.


And this of course was the 2014 NYC marathon. I wasn't sick, but I was freezing! This is from pretty early in the race. You can tell because I'm smiling.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cupressaceae Thuja Plicata

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

It's back! This week, donation matching up to $250. Make your donation go twice as far. Donate today!

My little Portland tree is showing signs of new life. At the end of some shoots is the yellow green of new needles. It has a way to go before reaching full size ~230ft tall. I'll need a bigger pot. That is really only a guess at full size. And "full size" may not be a helpful concept anyway. That was the height of the tallest tree known and reliably measured before we killed it. It seems like that is the way of it for many trees.

The west is the home to some very long lived tree species. Trees that have lived thousands of years are still standing. I wonder how long they can live. I wonder if some trees are actually immortal. Baring a destructive fire, strong winds and zealous loggers are some trees intrinsically immortal? It's a hard thing to test. It takes quite a while.

Anyway, my little tree has been with me for a month. And given the color of my thumb this little guy is facing a long uphill road.

The oddest marathon trophy - but my favorite.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Last Week Matching

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

The last week is upon us. Next Sunday morning I'll be getting up early (even with the extra hour) and heading south to Staten Island to find my place in the starting line. Next week is the NYC marathon.

I am excited. I know you are too.

We have one more week to raise monies for HOME and Fred's Team. I hope you can help make a big difference! Donate right now.

Oh, and I have another anonymous donor who has put up $250 dollars this week. For every dollar you give (to either HOME or Fred's Team) this person will give a dollar to Fred's Team. So donate like wild.
We might not be able to make my lofty goal, but I hope we can do a bit better than this. I believe in you!

OK, monies aside - Its time we talked about my "between the marathons" training plan. It was pretty sweet. I found a great plan to fit my needs.

Pretty easy "maintain" strategy. Blue days are long gone.
But I should remind you that a plan is only a plan. And in my case was it was only a fevered plan. A week after the Portland marathon I came down with a fever and some lower intestinal issues that rocked me for more than a few days. In response I took a few unscheduled rest days. And then last week I was knocked out of the game with a new fever. Again, everything inside wanted outside, but this time its preferred route was through my eyes and nose. In response I took a few more unscheduled rest days. And just as I was returning to health (but with a stuffed up nose) I cooked up some rather suspect chicken and found myself with another bout of lower intestinal excitement. Rest Rest and Rest.

So there you have it. The Andrew Lawton Between the Marathons Training Plan: diarrhea, flu, and rotten chicken. I'm sure it's about to catch on.

I will pick up my bib this week and plenty of free samples at the expo this week. So stay tuned for sweet pictures. Also I'll be giving out my bib number and all the information needed to track me live. If you can make it to see me run, please let me know what block (and side of the street) so that I can make sure to look for you!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Instagram

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Everyone on Instagram has a better life than I do. Or at least they have much more vacation time.

Fact: my life is filled with days that end all the same. I come home from work, eat a bit of food, sit down, and then go to bed. Also my days start the same. I get up, run, shower, and eat. I go to work. And for good measure, the middle of my days fill out with equivalent sameness. Sameness, day in and day out.

A couple of years ago I frequently found myself shocked by the routine, sure that I had not evolved to stand each week at the grocery store, on the same isle, looking over the same produce, standing in the same line, carrying the same bag, and restocking the same fridge. I often found myself vacantly staring at some food product and thinking, "Why buy this? I'm only going to eat it." Perhaps that doesn't quite make sense, but everything felt futile. And I am always tired.

At dinner last night B. said that it has something to do with what we can see and what we feel we deserve. This unsatisfied ungratefulness is due in part because we know how the most wealthy live and we have infinitely more ways to measure our failures to reach them. It was something about the Kardashians and their visual lifestyle - and how in the past everyone ate the same ice-berg lettuce because there wasn't infinite choices. And I wonder if he is right.

We can see the lives of others so well. And maybe that does include the wealthy. Even I read about celebrities and wealthy politicians and see pictures of their trips, dinners, and estates every day. That is mostly what makes up the news, it seems. Maybe the average person didn't have the same access to the Rockefellers as we do to the technocrats.

I have all but left Facebook - save for advertising this blog - because of boredom and the desire to avoid politics, anti-vaccination campaigns, snake oils, and face creams that will remove all of my freckles. Everyone is selling something, and nothing I want to buy. (This blog is different. I know you love it.)

I started Instagram this winter to keep up with a few new friends. I like its simplicity. I like the curated, and beautiful pictures my friends post. I really enjoy it. But slowly I started to realize that everyone was always on vacation. And then I noticed that they all vacationed in exotic and far away places. And then I saw that they had perfect homes with yards and families and all the trappings of happiness and joy and real life. And suddenly I knew I deserved more. Why am I stuck with all this monotonous sameness, this continual dripping of mediocrity? Ice-berg just won't cut it anymore.

I am a bit disappointed that I feel this way. I would hope that I didn't. But I do. Actually, I had hoped that coming out of a brush with death three years ago (to the week) would have changed me for the better. I had heard that experiences like that could. B even said something like that had been a turning point for him. Grace, he said, really grabbed him. But I am just as unsatisfied as always. Maybe more. What will it take for me?

I tell myself that all of this is ridiculous, that everyone isn't on vacation all the time - but that someone is always on vacation. I tell myself that I am very blessed and that I have so much. And I know it is true. So many people have gotten so much less. I tell myself that others spend just as much time sitting on the couch and watching Netflix, or going to be early as I do. And I suppose all of this helps. But it is depressing to fight (even when you win) the same battle over and over and over.

I wish I didn't have to choose to be grateful. I wish I just was.

Follow me on Instagram!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Three Years

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Three years ago I spent the week in and out of the hospital. I gave lots of samples. I was imaged in many wavelengths. I was poked and prodded. It was all very exciting. It was the week between my diagnosis and the start of treatment.

This week has already involved more sitting on the couch than three years ago. And it is only Monday.

Fall 2013

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Foot Locker

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Remember when I ran with Foot Locker? No? Did you actually forget that I was a professional runner in the past? Well not professional, technically. I did receive remunerations. Sort of. I didn't get paid in cash, but I did get a pair of the shortest (and loosest) shorts I've ever owned. And that is worth a lot. Oh, and the Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge was splendidly fun.

Not the shorts.
Foot Locker finds five runners, one from each borough of the city, who run to help them manage and live with difficult situations. The assembled team is photographed, interviewed and pushed on TV. They ceremonially open the race expo. They start the marathon an hour early! And after running the first half together they race the second. And the winner is given a tiffany trophy. I highly recommend it.



Two years ago I got the call. But only because I had missed the email. When they finally made contact I had almost lost my chance. But I headed down towards mid-town and took my interview. I passed. I represented Manhattan.

If you want to see the short shorts check out this sweet video.



This year's Manhattan representative, Evan Wood. He looks fast. I hope he finishes first and brings home the trophy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I've got a fever and the only prescription is more donations

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

The best days are when you don't have to do the work yourself! Check out this great post from HOME's blog. When you support HOME your dollars are doing real good for real people!


Sunday afternoon I came down with something. I was sitting in the choir room, rehearsing with the most talented future MET singers and I started missing notes. Just kidding. I always miss notes! Or as I like to say, I "interpret" the music. Anyway, I started to feel really weak and tired and all-around horrible.

I slogged to work for a few minutes and then gave up. By the time I stumbled off the bus I was done. I climbed into bed at 7pm. Sometime later I decided I needed tylenol and water. I removed the blanket from my roasting legs and immediately froze.  I took a few minutes to warm up again and then steel my will to walk down the hall. All this because of three lousy degrees. 

I run at 97.0 degrees (F). I know this as I've had it checked a lot. And last night I was brought to ruin by a temperature of an even 100. Fast-forward 12 hours, a few more doses of tylenol, and other things not mentionable here and it was morning. I made it into work for my meeting - and slogged through a bit of actual work before leaving early. I spent all afternoon on the couch. I'm still tired.

One thing will pick me up! You can donate to HOME or Fred's Team today! You really should. I don't want to be sick this week. I need to catch a few more runs before the NYC marathon. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

PDXMarathon Photos

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

The NYC marathon is just a few days away. And we are still more than a bit away from our fundraising goal. In fact we are just 41% of the way there. We still need to round up just under 3,800 dollars. I don't know if we can make it. But then I didn't know if we could last year, or the year before, and each time we did and then some. And strangely enough I always feel the same way in the marathon. I know I've done it before, but it always seems more than I can manage in those last miles. Can you donate today?

I hope you'll take a look at these photos and decide that you'd rather donate than receive a sealed bag of my running shorts - unwashed and mouldering damp - kept since the marathon. Or maybe I'll save that threat until the last moment. But better safe than sorry!

This was the wettest run I've ever participated in. One of my very first races, some decade ago, threatened rain and did rain, hard, all the way up until the start. That was when I first learnt about the water repelling, and super styling ability of the trash bag. Back then it was just a big sloppy sack. Now they come in slim fit. Boy, don't we look good.

Sporting the best in high-performance trash bags.
We didn't run together, but we did look good together at the start. I've never been able to run with someone. I'm too internally competitive. I'm always racing myself and I am ruthless. The only people who have run with me have been much better than me - and intentionally pacing/entertaining me.

I think someone was enjoying themselves.
We didn't run together. But that doesn't mean there wasn't any passing happening. Zing! There might have been a little brotherly competition. It was John's first marathon. Apparently, there was minimal training. I think the longest preparatory run was less than half of the marathon. I guess this just goes to show that any healthy, fit, driven, person with grit and a healthy portion of the immortality and swagger of youth can finish a marathon. Oh to be 22 again.

Speaking of enjoyment, I've managed this face in every marathon so far. It may well be my late-miles race face.
I love the colors in this picture - and the rain drops. It was wet.

The face of not making your goal. It's just too hard to not be happy.

And then they give you a rose. Mine was beautiful. And I think you can see my lips turning blue.
There is a lot of time to think about things during a marathon. And while I thought a lot about the rain, my legs, and if I would finish, I had time to think of more important things too. I thought of the work of Fred's Team and HOME and how they do real good to real people. How lucky I am to run for them.

Thank you for allowing me to run for HOME and Fred's Team. Your generosity supports their good work, of course, but it also gives me the chance to be a part of it too - and to have so much fun running in circles. Thank you!

After the race, after the water, orange juice, chocolate milk, yogurt, candies, cheese, medal, pin, medallion, jacket, t-shirt, rose, and tree - they really give you stuff at this marathon - I waddled out of the finisher area and started to think of my next one. They really are addictive. You should join me for the next one.
It's official. We did an extra bit just for fun!

Intrigue

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

I went looking for news about the marathon. I was hoping to include an interesting factoid or two into my review post. I wasn't completely out of luck. The first article I found told of how they gave the winning trophy to the wrong person.

It sounds a bit difficult to not know who finished first - especially since this wasn't a photo-finish tie situation. But in the volunteer's defense, the marathon and the half marathon looped back together before the end. Even I, arriving much later, still had to weave between clumps of walking half-marathoners. So the winner, Matthew Palilla from Bend Oregon, was thought to be just another halfer. I mean, we had different bibs. But oh well.

Matt was asked about the trophy. And I could relate to his need to get out of town.
"They weren't able to find it," said Palilla, who added he was cold and wet after the race and needed to get home to Bend. He said he still hasn't been contacted by the marathon.

In my reading I found out that the Portland Marathon is run by volunteers. I also found out that it almost didn't happen this year as late as last Tuesday. The city didn't believe they had a good enough emergency plan. Fortunately for all of us, they found a compromise.

But the most interesting news I found was questions about the length of the marathon itself. All marathons are 26.2 miles in length. Or they are supposed to be. That is why it makes no sense to ask how long this marathon is, or that marathon is. I've fielded those questions. And I try to make the correction. But maybe now I won't.

We may have run a bit more than 26.2 miles on Sunday. Or at least those of us that started a bit later in the race. We may have run the non-classic 26.69 mile marathon. I don't think the marathon is going to come out and say anything, but it seems to be real. Many people noticed. And a few had GPS watches to map out their extra route.


Using google map's street view I remember being at one of the intersections that was off-course.  This could explain why my 5k split was so slow. I was running with J. at that point. The first mile marker we saw was mile 2. We couldn't believe we had been running almost an 11 minute per mile pace. We thought the mile marker was misplaced. We then lost heart seeing the 5k marker. I told J we were in trouble.


Adding the extra milage brings the pace of my first 5k within range (9:28). Of course, that still doesn't explain why the next 5k was so slow, or any of the other splits. But those are on me.

I looked at the math. If you add the distance, my overall pace drops from 9:14 to 9:03. And if you run a marathon at that pace you would finish comfortably under four hours (3:57). I wonder if that would have happened. I wonder if the marathon will acknowledge the error. But with Matthew Palilla, I won't hold my breath.

Pictures and fun stuff to come!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Portland Marathon

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

The Portland marathon is over! Just one more marathon to go. I hope to have lots of pictures soon, but please enjoy these factoids. Also I made a meme-styled picture thing. I think it captures how I feel moving through the marathon.


Portland gives out a lot of graphics for such a small race. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory.

I'm above average. Sort of. My age/grade is 50.87%


Not sure why they split the data.
In total I passed 868 runners and was passed by 64 runners. 


It rained the entire time I was on the course. The rain flitted between a solid poor and a stiff drizzle. And for a while the head winds were rather strong. Perhaps that is why my PR only improved by 12 seconds. Of course there are also hills here in Portland - and I was feeling a bit sickly all last week. But at the end of the day those are only excuses.

I wasn't as sore at the end of this marathon as in Chicago. But I did get a bit hypothermic. After the race I took my complimentary tree seedling and waddled off towards the hotel we chose as our meeting location. I was shaking uncontrollably and knew I would need to stop someone and tell them I was in trouble if I didn't find the hotel soon. Fortunately, I found it. And a few coffees later I was shaking a bit less and feeling a whole lot better. I am still getting back to an appropriate temperature.

I still think I can get under four hours. And I still think beating 3:52 is not out of the question. I will need much better conditions. But as I've learned in all of my training: "The next run will be better."

Anyway, I'm going to bed (Totally legit. It's almost 9pm here).

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Portland or Bust!

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Portland marathon this Sunday! Following along at home by downloading the RTRT.me app on your phone - or use this link on your computer! Don't forget, the race starts at 7am (10am EST).

I've packed up my running socks, shorts, and a variety of shirts. I still need to pack in the vaseline and energy gels. But I'm just about ready. The training schedule calls for an easy two miles. So that remains for Friday morning. But now I've started the very last bit, and very important part of marathon prep. I'm watching Portlandia.

I am excited for the marathon, but also excited for a few days in the magical city of pedi-cabs, adult hide-and-seek leagues, and Kath and Dave. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for good walls and bad art, any free-style canoe contests.

A-O-River!







Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Track Me Live

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Portland marathon this Sunday! Following along at home by downloading the RTRT.me app on your phone - or use this link on your computer! Don't forget, the race starts at 7am (10am EST).

Get into the fun by betting your donation against my running time. Use this form to sign up! Seriously the coolest way to donate. Also, you'll be entered to win sweet gifts. See the last few posts for all the details and all my running times (for best betting)! Oh, and for those wanting even more information I checked out the weather forecast. It looks like it is going to be a hot one in Portland (75F and 80% humidity).

I'm sitting on my couch listening to the sounds of the street. Most of the time I hear cars and horns, sirens and yelling, and other undefinable noises. Today is unique. I've lived here now for just over a year and for the first time ever I'm hearing opera style singing.

It sounds like it is coming from the street and not another apartment. It is also not a real song. It is just loud, very loud large wobbles. A drunk mezzo soprano lost in Harlem perhaps.

In addition to listening to street sounds I'm surfing the endless youtube sea in search of inspirational running videos. It turns out they exist. But that just are not that inspirational. Even the ones claiming to be the very best. I guess I find inspiration in different places. For instance, I think the video below is everything a marathon should be. The joy, the pain, the tiredness, the sweet short shorts.



Not finding enough motivation I went looking for any running videos. I had the pleasure of meeting Meb briefly after last year's NYC marathon. I was volunteering and snuck up to the finish line to see the professionals finish. Meb was the only one who came over and took pictures (can't find it) and shook hands. Of course he is also the only one we yelled for too. So maybe the other runners would have said hello too.

Why I'm asking for your Money

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here


H.O.M.E.
It took me months into fundraising last year to understand what H.O.M.E. is doing. And even then, I didn't have any revelations, or smart realizations. I had to go see. I was given all the talking points, the write ups, the sales pitches. I was given the pamphlets and the website. I read about H.O.M.E. I read about seniors. But I didn't understand until I went and saw.

I didn't understand what HOME was doing because I didn't understand the need. And when I finally saw, when I realized, when what I had been reading, and writing, and talking about - when it became present and true - I was startled. But startled doesn't carry the profundity, and shocked sounds too silly. Rather it was as when you see past a silly illusion, when the optics become clear and you see now rightly, and you can no longer go back. It was that. And I saw what HOME was doing because I saw the need. And it is real.

H.O.M.E. realized there is a missing component to senior care. We (or I, I should say) tend to think on aspects of their health care, prescriptions, maybe mobility and the like. All of which are important, of course. But there is a need so basic that I, and many others missed. There are many seniors who have no homes. Most no longer have any income, and the savings are not enough. Many low-income seniors have no where to live.

Many seniors have few options - most not good - when they can no longer afford to live. As you can imagine, having a safe and secure place to live, a true home, impacts every aspect of anyone's life. We know this. It is one of the reasons we ache when we hear about more refugees. No part of any displaced person's life is immune.

H.O.M.E. seeks to enable more and more seniors to live independently longer. This is what I heard, and read, and told you all last year. I just didn't know how wonderful, how important, how life-giving that is. I didn't know until I went and saw it. When I toured the Nathalie Salmon House, one of HOME's Apartment buildings in Chicago, and when I met some of the residents, I understood. They are providing a place of being. They are providing stability, security, independence. They are enabling people to flourish. This is why I am asking for your donations.

Providing a place to live is just one aspect of what HOME does. It isn't a complex idea. In reality it is simple. But it means the world to those who HOME serves.

Fred's Team
I wish it wasn't my story. I wish I could say, like many of my friends, that I was running in the memory of, or for the love of some friend or family member. I wish I had been so motivated by my care of others. But that is not true. I am supporting cancer research because without it I would be dead.

Research costs. There are no ways around it. But it is worth our investment.

If having a secure place to live allows for flourishing, so does a sound body. Just as HOME is improve the lives of their neighbors, so is Fred's Team. They are driven by the desire to never have another doctor tell their patient there is nothing they can do. They are driven by the desire to get rid of cancer.

I was told that Monday night in October that I was mistaken. I sat the little room and thought of all the people that I knew that had cancer. All but two were already dead. So I asked the only question I thought worthwhile. "How much time do I have left?"  "No," she replied, "You misunderstand. We are going to cure you."

Life changing words, life holding words, flourishing words, this is what I want others to hear. Far too few do. This is why I'm asking for your donations.




I wonder what it says about me that I need such first hand and tactile experiences before I "see." I'm not sure. Someday I may figure that out. I wonder if it shares anything with the fact that all my sentences start with the word "I." Have you noticed that over the last three years? I have.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

All the Resolution

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

Everything is set back a bit this morning, including this blog entry. It so happens that it took Tristan und Isolde a long time to finally die last night. And Wagner took about five hours to resolve. But it was worth it. Good ol' Dickie Wagner knows how to write some music.

Isolde, still not dead.
The storyline, like for many operas, can be summed up thusly: everyone loves everyone and everyone ends up dead. I didn't use my translated text in the 2nd act. I don't think I missed much. More or less I think they repeated - ad nauseum -
First party: I love you.
Second party: I love you, let us surrender to night and to death.
Third party: How could you betray me, my truest friend? I will kill you.
Basically a typical monday night in my romantic life too. Just fewer magic potions. The coolest part was seeing Alex Richardson in the role of the shepherd. I sang next to Alex last year in the St James choir.

Anyway, here is the promised running paces. Look over my training, my best (and worst) runs and decided how much you think I'll make my goal. And then use this form to make a betting pledge on my running time! See yesterday's post for details. And remember you'll be entered to win a t-shirt or a tote bag!  (I'll let you get back to resting pulse...)

I'm hoping to run the Portland marathon (this Sunday) in under 3 hours and 52 minutes. This requires that I average a pace of 8:51 for all 26.2 miles. For a professional, this would be difficult in its slowness. But for me, this will be difficult in its fastness. It will require the perfect day. But it is doable. And I'm going to aim to do it.

Standing against me is the past. This will require that I trim 23 seconds per mile from my Chicago Pace (1 min, 7 secs from NYC pace). That is not insignificant. But Chicago was very hot and I ran out of salt and my calf started spasming. I think I can find a few seconds there. And NYC was run under special conditions.


Standing for me is my training. I logged more miles this year than the last two years (see chart above). I changed my training plan to be a bit more aggressive and I think I actually did a few more of the recommended hill repeats and speed workouts. I'm hoping the race goes like one training run in particular. My last 20 mile run went rather well. I ran negative splits and averaged an 8:48 pace. And the last mile, the only one I measured individually, was an 8:15 pace. I don't think I could have held that pace for 6 more miles, but I could have kept it for 2 or 3. A fast run, a feeling good run? I'll take it.

The chart below includes all of my runs from this year and the two previous. Seems like there should be more little squares. Enjoy the bright colors and find that really promising 20 mile run.

I spent a lot of time getting Excel to make these colors. So please enjoy it.
This is the same data, I just colored each spot blue and dropped in the different desired paces required to catch different goals. I also added a trend line, because why not.
And lastly, I've zoomed in to the important marathon region. That trend line is looking rather steep now.
X marks the spots.

So there you go. You have the same data I have. You know what paces I'm likely to run. Now it is time to bet against my training, my will, my heart, my fueling, my tummy, the weather, the course, and whatever else may affect my running time.

Make your donation bets by using this form. Then fulfill your bets either after the race on Sunday, or after the NYC race - if you are taking the double down bet!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

One Week to Portland: Speed Betting!

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

You've raised 39% of $6,500! Nice work! And an even split between our two charities!

Join the funnest way to donate! Bet your donation on my marathon finishing time!

Place a base pledge this week! Must be in before October 9th - the day of the Portland marathon. Fulfill pledge on October 9th or on November 6th if taking the Double Down Super Round.

Here is how it works:
If I set a Portland PR (aka, if I just show up) then you multiply your pledge by 1.
If I beat my NYC PR (4:21:16) then the multiplier is 1.1.
If I beat my Chicago PR (4:01:57) then the multiplier is 1.3.
If I'm under 4 hours then the multiplier is 1.7.
If I beat my long-standing goal of 3:52:00 then the multiplier is 2.5.
Awesome, right?

But wait there's more. The optional Double Down Super Round!
If I beat my Chicago PR in both Portland and in NYC then the multiplier is 1.7.
If I'm under 4 hours in both races then the multiplier is 2.5.
If I beat 3:52:00 in both races then the multiplier is 4.
Chart form!
We have people already signed up! These early pledges are directed to both H.O.M.E. and Fred's Team. In total $112 dollars of base pledges were made - all under the Double Down! That means, if I blast both marathons - hitting my target time of 3:51 we could raise a whopping $448! And while that is highly unlikely (given that I've never moved that fast for that long, much less in two back to back marathons) I am aiming to do just that.

Will you join in? Make your pledge here!

And just in case you need more encouragement, make a pledge and your name will be entered into a prize lottery. Fred's Team has given me a handsome long sleeve t-shirt and HOME has given a great tote bag for groceries and such. Two lucky winners will be the proud owners of sweet swag.

Back and Front. I actually own an iron. But using it...
Such an amazing capacity for storage!

Stay tuned. Tuesday will be filled with my latest and most informative running times. You know, so you can make your donation bets with precision. Because why not have the data?

Wednesday will remind you just why we are supporting both HOME and Fred's Team. Both groups do good. And it is my privilege to help raise a bit of money for such honorable causes.

Then the Portland marathon will be over and I'll start to find out how the back to back actually feels!

That and more.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Matched Success

Another great day to donate! Two marathons and two charities! Let's raise a combined $6,500 for cancer research through Fred's Team and low-income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)!

Donate to H.O.M.E. here (write in "marathon" in note section). Donate to Fred's Team here

You were supposed to take until Sunday night. I was supposed to fret and worry. This was supposed to be difficult. But here we are, Friday morning, and we've raised over $850! Thank you for your generosity. Thank you.

The challenge was to raise $750 in one week. We have a couple of generous anonymous donors that pledged to match up to $750 in donations of their own. They will now fork over the complete $750 dollars because you went above and beyond.

We still need to raise quite a bit of money to reach our target goals before both marathons are finished (November 6th). So if you have yet to donate, please do so. Additionally, if you know of anyone that is generous and would like to be an anonymous backer, put them in touch with me. I think we should try this again later in October.

Champions, that's you, in red.

I just finished my last run of September 2016. It was a short four miles. Or rather, it was a normal four miles, but four miles feels short to me these days. It is a shame that the cool weather started so abruptly when I switched to tapering down. I really do not want to complain about the change in weather just yet, so that is all I'll say about it now. It feels really good to run in, and I don't mind needing an extra blanket at night just yet.

This was a fun run for me. I've been tracking all of my runs, feeding my numbers fetish. I've also be graphing all of my runs. I'm not that talented when it comes to data visualization (I'll pay you D.) but I enjoy staring at the little lines. This run was fun because it was the last run of september which is usually my biggest month of the year. This was my biggest month ever. Enjoy:


Look at how red this September is!