Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year In Review: 2011

Well, tomorrow is New Year's Day and I'm stuck in that in-between zone where I don't have a clear goal in mind for my next big event. I decided to use today as an opportunity to reflect on my accomplishments in 2011 and then tomorrow will be a day of goal-setting.

First of all, I started this blog on Wednesday, June 15th 2011. Today marks my 146th post and since beginning this blog, I've run 625.86 miles, I rode my bike 144.45 miles, and I swam 14,350+ meters. Documenting my training and having family and friends check in on my progress was a huge help with my training for New York.

I not only ran the New York marathon, I was chosen as a featured runner for ING, won the featured runner contest, and finally broke the 3:10 barrier in the marathon.

I ran other races in 2011 though... several before starting this blog. Here's a list of my 2011 races and results:

4/16/11 - Oz Marathon - 3:19:32
6/5/11 - Minneapolis Marathon - 3:32:38 (We met the Gomers!)
6/11/11 - St. Louis Race For The Cure - 5K - 32:08
7/10/11 - New Town Triathlon - 1,000m Swim (25:31) 20M Bike (59:30) 4M Run (27:51) - 1:57:14
7/24/11 - Opening Act 5K - 20:04 - 7th Place Overall
8/27/11 - United Way 5K - 19:37 - 1st Place Overall
9/18/11 - Millstadt Parks Biathlon - 5M Run (31:41) 22M Bike (1:10:13) - 1:41:54
10/9/11 - BAJA 1/2 Marathon - 1:27:30 - 1st Place Men 30-34
10/22/11 - Harvest Moon 5K - 19:21 - 1st Place Overall
11/6/11 - ING New York Marathon - 3:09:49
11/24/11 - 5K on Turkey Day - 18:49 - 5th Place Overall
12/10/11 - Frostbite Series 3K - 10:59 - 2nd Place Men 30-34

Looking back, that's a pretty packed year! I accomplished a huge goal in New York and I can't imagine a more exciting overall marathon experience. I also crossed three new states off of my list of marathons (Kansas, Minnesota, and New York). I raced a tough triathlon and did my first open-water swim. And I had a lot of fun running, racing, and meeting new people.

Writing this blog was an invaluable motivator and it's been fun looking back on my time leading up to New York. I've decided to keep blogging so I have an ongoing record of my training and my adventures. I plan to change things up a little as far as the blog page itself and I'm going to reset my mileage counter starting tomorrow. I also realised that when I write a post, I think of it as a personal journal. But the longer I've been doing this, the more feedback I get that people follow along and read some of my posts. I've started to think more about my posts as if I'm also writing them for other people to read and not just myself. It's a weird little shift in my thinking, but it will also likely lead to a slight shift in my writing... it will be less about writing to myself and more about writing with the assumption that other people might read my posts. I don't know if that makes sense, but it feels a little different on my end.

So here's to a successful 2011 and a 2012 filled with untapped potential!!!

Goal For The Day: Take a look back.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: I haven't run at all since Monday. It's a sign that I'm between goals and I need to come up with a plan!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Final Blog Totals for 2011:
  Run - 625.86 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gear Check: Christmas Gear!

I received some great gifts for Christmas this year and several were running related. I can't wait to put them to good use!

First, Mom and Rick got me the P90X Fitness Program! I've borrowed a couple of P90X DVDs from friends in the past and they definitely kicked my butt so I've been thinking about doing the actual program. It's 90 days of working out 6-7 times per week and the workouts are intense. I would really like to follow the schedule the way it's intended but I haven't figured out how to incorporate such an exhausting program into my running routine. Obviously, I would have to scale back my running while I'm doing it so I haven't figured out when I'll try P90X in 2012, but it's on my to-do list and I'm excited to see how it goes!

Ben and Maja are always great with thoughtful and creative gifts but this year they outdid themselves. I opened their gift to find a Flash t-shirt like Sheldon wears on The Big Bang Theory!

That alone would have been an awesome gift, but when I turned it around to show Liz the shirt, I saw that my marathon time was stitched into the back!!! How awesome to have my Boston Qualifying time stitched into a Flash shirt!!?? Great Gift!

Liz also got me some much-needed and much-appreciated running gear. I have a goal of running a marathon in every state. So far, I've crossed 8 states off of the list. I'm starting to acquire quite a collection of marathon medals but they're currently on a hanger in our spare closet. Now I have a great decorative hanger so I can start displaying my hard-earned medals!

And on a more practical note, Liz also got me warmer, more versatile running gloves. I have a pair of Nike gloves that are great when the temperature is in the 40's. After that, they don't offer much protection from the cold and I've been using cheap cotton gloves that I got for free somewhere. But not anymore!

Liz got me a pair of Asics glove/mitten hybrids. They're super-warm and the mitten portion can be folded back to free your fingers. I'm looking forward to my hands staying warm when the temperature drops and I'm excited that I'll be able to use my iPod easier thanks to the fold-away mittens!

What a haul! I can't wait to put some of this gear to good use in 2012!!!

Goal For The Day: Off Day.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: The New Year is just around the corner. It's time to start thinking about my next challenge/adventure.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 625.86 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ready, Set, Rische or Not 5K

This Christmas involved a couple of challenges. First, the men in the family were challenged to grow beards starting in November and we all sported hairy faces for the holiday.

We also decided to run a 5K as a family while everyone was home for Christmas. We didn't want to run an actual race, but thought it would be fun to go for a family group run.

We gathered outside the Rische household around 10:00 this morning and found out we had picked the coldest morning of the weekend for our run. It had also been dry all weekend but this morning there was a very light rain falling. We didn't let the weather get us down though. Our participants included Nate, Beth, Stephanie, Dan, Nancy, myself, and Liz. (Kim stayed behind to solve a plumbing problem.)

The Inaugural 'Ready, Set, Rische or Not 5K'.

Our course involved running to the bike trail that I ran on yesterday, circling two laps around a park, and then returning to the house. It was a relaxed run. Nobody was trying to set any records and we chatted as we ran.

I ran with Liz, Nate, Dan, and Stephanie while Beth and Nancy settled into their own pace behind us. Beth wasn't sure she was going to run the whole time but she at least started with Nancy.

About halfway through the first lap around the park, Dan and Stephanie stopped for a quick bathroom break and then ran with Beth and Nancy for a while. By the time we finished our second lap and left the park to run home, Dan and Stephanie were catching back up with us and we ran the rest of the way home together.

We checked behind us a couple of times and Beth and Nancy were always right there, not too far back. Apparently, they started slower than us but then must have matched our pace because the distance between us didn't seem to change. Beth ended up running the whole time!

When we got to the home stretch, those of us up front turned around to join Beth and Nancy so we could all finish together.

We ran back to the house as a group and officially finished our first family 5K! I had medals for each of us and Stephanie put her calligraphy skills to good use on the labels so we could commemorate the occasion.

It was a shame Kim couldn't join us but it was a good thing he stayed behind. We came home to find the plumbing fixed and we were all able to take some well-deserved hot showers!

Goal For The Day: Family Fun Run.
Distance: 2.80 Miles.
Time: 30:33. 10:54 Avg. (10:38, 10:40, 9:15*).
Route: To the bike trail/2 laps around the park/Home.
Conditions: 37 degrees. 10:11AM.

Notes: We all used different devices to track our run and compared distances at the finish. My Garmin reported 2.8 miles but it was a cloudy morning so it might have been a little off. Liz used her Nike+ shoe sensor and Nancy used her phone's GPS. We were all right around the 2.8-3 mile mark so it wasn't quite a full 5K but it was close enough. It's the thought that counts!

Daily Miles: 2.80 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 625.86 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I'll Just Have To Keep Dreaming

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... but this year it's not meant to be.

It's been a great Christmas already. We had a brief gift exchange with my family Friday and have spent the rest of the weekend with Liz's family in Kansas City. I Love all of this time with family and continuing family traditions. Unfortunately, the weather isn't contributing to the Christmas atmosphere. It's much too warm and there's no snow to be found this year.

I decided to make the best of it and took advantage of some downtime this afternoon to go for a Christmas Day run. It wasn't cold enough for snow today but it was still chilly. Even with the cold breeze, I was sweating after only a mile and my Christmas beard felt very out of place.

I ran on the trail that runs near the Risches' house and went out about 3 miles before turning to head back. I was feeling a little too disappointed in the weather... it was a nice day for a run after all... but then I got a pleasant surprise. In a shady part of the path, there was a patch of ice that somehow hadn't melted.

I have no idea how it managed to survive the temperatures nearing the 50's, but it was like a Christmas miracle! I know it's ridiculous, but I'm counting this as my white Christmas!

A little farther down the path, I ran past a pond that was partially frozen and I let myself imagine I wasn't running in shorts and a t-shirt on Christmas... in my mind, I was bundled up with frost in my beard and the snow was just about to start falling.

I could have easily gone the entire day without seeing any snow or ice but today's run saved the day!

Merry Christmas!!!

Goal For The Day: Christmas Run!
Distance: 6.01 Miles.
Time: 42:50. 7:08 Avg. (7:21, 7:13, 7:12, 7:08, 6:40, 7:11, 0:03*).
Route: Bike Path in Overland Park, KS.
Conditions: 48 degrees. 1:30PM.

Notes: I got some great running-related gear for Christmas. I'll have to post about it soon.

Daily Miles: 6.01 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 623.06 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Romance Run

Liz asked if I wanted to go for a run with her this afternoon. Considering my recent pattern, it might have been another week before I ran again if she hadn't extended the invitation.

The Gomers introduced us to the term 'Romance Run'. They talk about running with their wives and how nice it is to share one of their favorite pastimes with each other. When Liz trained for her first half marathon, I would tag along on her training runs from time to time. Since then, we haven't run together very often. It was nice to share a run around town.

We ran up to the Phillips 66 and then turned into some neighborhoods that lead back toward our house. We ran down some roads I haven't explored yet and made a lap around the parking lot of a nearby church before heading home.

It was a hilly two-and-a-half miles and a great way to spend some time together on a Sunday afternoon. With the new year just around the corner, I hope to go for Romance Runs more often in 2012!

Goal For The Day: Romance Run.
Distance: 2.50 Miles.
Time: 26:07. 10:27 Avg. (10:23, 10:39, 5:04*)
Route: Run Around Eureka.
Conditions: 57 degrees. 3:23PM.

Notes: I know Liz still has a Love/hate relationship with running, but it's nice when we can run together like this.

Daily Miles: 2.50 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 617.05 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Got The Point

I haven't run at all since last week's race so I wanted to go for a nice, easy run around town today. Instead of the relaxing run I was hoping for, I got a painful lesson in heal-striking.

After the race last weekend, I noticed my left heel was bothering me. It felt like I stepped on a rock and bruised it. I had a small spot of roughed-up skin on my heel and what looked like it could be a splinter. I poked around at it for a while and had Liz take a closer look (poor Liz) but couldn't figure out what it was or what could have caused it. During the week, it didn't bother me and I forgot about it.

My plan for today was to run down into town and run a lap around the neighborhood from the Harvest Moon 5K before coming home. At first, everything was fine and it was a great day for a run.

About two miles into the run, I started to notice my heel again. It didn't really hurt, but it felt like I had a very small rock in my shoe. It was the same spot as last week so I made a mental note to shake out my shoe when I got home.

Over the course of the next mile, that annoying little rock really started to hurt. I finally stopped to clean my shoe out but when I sat to take it off, I caught a glimpse of something shiny on the bottom of my shoe. I looked closer and there was a large safety pin between the treads stabbing into my heel. I tried to pull it out, but couldn't get my fingers in far enough to get a grip. I looked inside my shoe and the pin must have been just beneath the insole and only poked through when I landed on my heel. I was about halfway through my run and still had over two miles left to get home so it was shaping up to be an annoying finish.

I got going again and found that as long as I was landing on my mid-foot or fore-foot, my heel didn't hurt at all. Unfortunately, Eureka is a hilly place and I apparently land on my heels when I run downhill. I also seem to put pressure on my heel when I turn a corner. So for the trip home, I focussed on my form more than I usually do and tried to lean forward to stay off of my heels.

The longer I ran, the less it seemed to take for the pin to dig into my foot. By the last mile, I was basically running on my toes and that still didn't help completely. I tried stopping to walk but that wasn't helpful either. By the end, it felt like the pin wasn't just poking me, but was actually tearing at the top layer of skin.

When I got home, I pulled my shoe off to find a bloody spot in my shoe and a bloody hole in my sock.

I checked the pin again and saw why it was getting worse late in the run. A rock got wedged in right on top of the pin. Every time I landed on my heel, that rock probably pushed the pin in even deeper.

I grabbed some needle-nose pliers and yanked the pin out of my shoe. It's funny that something so small can make a run so uncomfortable.


That's definitely a first for me. It's a good thing I had to get a tetanus booster as part of the vaccines required to meet my new niece!

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 4.93 Miles.
Time: 35:00. 7:06 Avg. (6:50, 6:48, 6:59, 7:19, 7:00*).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop with Harvest Moon Extension.
Conditions: 45 degrees. 1:08PM.

Notes: I just kept thinking of Gary Shandling's line at the end of Ironman 2: "It's funny how annoying a little prick can be."

Daily Miles: 4.93 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 614.55 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Race Report: Frostbite Series #1 - 3K

Every winter, the Saint Louis Track Club organizes a series of races called the Frostbite Series. There's a race every-other Saturday in Forest Park. You can run any of the races by themselves and they're each ridiculously cheap, or you can enter to run the series as a whole and pay one price for all five races.

You also have the option of running either the Short Series or the Long Series. This year's Short Series races are: 3K, 2M, 5K, 4M, and 3M. The Long Series races are: 12K, 10M, 20K, 13.1M, and 15K. I've never run the Long Series... mostly because I don't want to race that far in the cold.

The Frostbite Series always draws a lot of participants and I didn't pre-register so I got to the park early to sign up for the Short Series. It's been a few years since I've run the Frostbite Series but I remember the registration area being crazy on the first day. There was a year or two that I almost didn't get registered in time for the start of the race.

This year wasn't a problem. When I got to the information center where the Track Club sets up shop, there weren't very many runners there yet.

Outside the Information Center when I arrived.

I was able to register really quickly and then found a quiet corner to hang out in until closer to race time. I pinned my number on my shirt and then settled in with a book I brought to pass the time.

When it was time to drop things off at my car so I could warm up, I went back through the lobby and saw that the crowd had arrived. Everyone was packed in the lobby trying to stay warm until the race.

A familiar sight at the Frostbite Series.

Things were much more lively outside too. It was so quiet an hour ago and now there were people everywhere and you could tell by all of the runners' nervous energy that it was almost race time.

I went for my usual warm-up run and then ditched my extra layers in my car. Both races start at the same time but at different starting lines so I went over to the 3K area.

My only criticism of this race is the start. The 3K starts on a side road and as soon as the horn sounds, we make an immediate right turn onto the road that runs in front of the information center. Without fail, that turn causes problems for the pack of runners. You either have to line up at the very front or at the back of the pack unless you want to risk getting tangled up and trampled.

Today was no exception. I lined up near the front so I could get out and away from people early but when the race started and we turned the corner, I could hear the scuffling behind me. I'm pretty sure a couple of people hit the pavement.

As an added bonus this year, the road must not have been closed because there was a car and a city bus in the middle of the road right in front of the information center. The road is already lined with parked cars and I always envision side-view mirrors being torn off but now we had to dodge cars in the middle of the course too. We all did our best to control the chaos as we swarmed around them and once we passed the bus, we were in the clear for the rest of the race.

I don't have a lot of strategy for a 3K race. It's just under 2 miles so I basically run the first mile as fast as I can without killing myself and then try to keep the pace from dropping in the second mile. It's an out-an-back course and I reached the turn around feeling pretty good. It seemed like there were high school kids everywhere and I remembered that the Frostbite Series usually has a lot of kids racing to stay in shape between cross country and track seasons.

On the way back, I started to tighten up and it felt like I was running a track workout. Running a short, fast race like this brings on such a different kind of tired from the fatigue of a long run. I notice the tightening in my arms first. It gets harder and harder to breathe. Everything tightens up instead of just feeling run down. I could feel my turnover slowing so I tried to get a little more distance out of my stride and every now and then tried to pick up the pace.

At the end of the race, the course turns onto a winding sidewalk that snakes around behind the information center. The path is about 100 meters long and every Frostbite Series race ends here. I'm always tired and hurting when I turn that corner and I have two goals for that last 100 meters: 1)Don't let anyone pass me. 2)Pass anyone within reach in front of me.

I didn't pass anyone in the home stretch today but I didn't get passed by anyone either. I crossed the finish line in 10:59. My first mile was in 5:36 and my average over the race was 5:54 per mile so the second half of the race must have been significantly slower. It's still my best 3K ever!

Even though the temperature was in the 20's, the race was so short, I didn't have time to get cold. I snagged some of the post-race snacks... the Frostbite Series always has good cookies and pretzels filled with peanut butter... and went back to my car for warmer clothes and my book.

I waited in the information center for the results and wondered if this part of the process would be faster than in past years that I've run the series. It's amazing how technology has changed races in the past few years. Results are practically instantaneous thanks to timing chips and computers.

Sure enough, there was a flat screen monitor set up that scrolled through the results as they were posted. The list was updated every few minutes and it seemed like they would be able to start the awards ceremony soon.

Fast results.

Apparently, the technology still isn't perfect though. At first, it reported that I finished 6th overall. That didn't seem right. I know I wasn't far from the front, and I know I get a little bit of tunnel vision late in the race, but it sure seemed like there were more than five people in front of me.

The list obviously wasn't complete yet and apparently, some of the people that signed up for the longer race decided to run the 3K instead because their results were already listed for the long race. I found a place to sit with my book and the list kept cycling across the monitor. I moved from 6th, to 9th, to 12th, and finally ended up 28th overall. I finished 2nd in my age group though so I got a ribbon and I should be in a good position as far as series points in my age group.

When I left, a lot of people were still huddled around the monitor looking for their results. Another problem with this system is that it listed all of the 3K finishers and then started scrolling through the long race results. But the system reset every few minutes to update the results and the runners lower on the list of long race finishers never got to see their results because the system always reset before it got to them.

This is the first time I've seen results posted in this way and the system has potential, but it still has a few flaws that need to be ironed out.

Goal For The Day: Race!
Distance: 1.86 Miles.
Time: 10:59. 5:54 Avg. (5:36, 5:23*).
Route: Frostbite Series #1 - 3K.
Conditions: 26 degrees. 9:00AM.

Time: 10:59. 5:54 avg. (5:36, 5:23*).
28th out of 573 finishers.
2nd out of 22 men ages 30-34.

Notes: Didn't set a PR in the Thanksgiving 5K, but set a new PR for 3K today! The first 11 finishers were ages 15-17. 21 of the 27 people that beat me were 19 or younger. Made me feel old!

Daily Miles: 1.86 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 609.62 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two Weeks... Two Workouts

Am I slacking off? Am I taking a much-deserved break? Am I resting up for something big? Is the glass half empty or half full?

In the past two weeks, I've done exactly two workouts. Not exactly hardcore.

Both workouts were at the Rec Center. Last Tuesday (the 29th), I planned to meet Liz for a swim but our timing was off so I ended up running on the treadmill and Liz went for a swim on her own. I messed around in the gym and did a little lifting and then ran 4 miles. Normally, I'm not a fan of treadmill running because I get bored so quickly, but that 4 miles wasn't bad at all for some reason.

Then this Tuesday (the 6th), Liz and I got our act together and went for a swim. We swam 1,000 meters in three chunks (300/400/300) and I realized that I can run for a long time and just let my mind wander. But when I swim, all I'm thinking about is my breathing and how many more laps until I stop. Hopefully, I'll get comfortable enough in the water that I can let my mind wander while I'm swimming and the workouts will be more fun.

I run the first race of this year's Frostbite Series tomorrow. Hopefully, that will get me back in the groove.

Tuesday (11/29)
Goal For The Day: Run
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 28:28. 7:07 Avg. (7:30, 7:13, 6:58, 6:44).
Route: Treadmill at Fenton Rec Center.
Conditions: Stuffy. 6:00PM.

Tuesday (12/6)
Goal For The Day: Swim.
Distance: 1,000 meters. (300/400/300).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: I'm working on my plans for 2012 and I'm thinking I'll need a lot of early mornings and dedication so for now, I'll let myself sleep in and slack off a little.

Daily (Recent) Miles: 4.00 Miles Run. 1,000 meter Swim.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 611.76 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 15,350+ meters.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exploring Cincinnati On Foot

I went for what has become a rare kind of run for me lately. We had some time this morning before our plans to go shopping so I went for a wandering run around Ben and Maja's neighborhood. I've been doing so much focused training that I haven't gone for many relaxed, exploratory runs.

I started up Marburg and turned right on Erie but made a quick right again at the coffee shop onto Victoria. Victoria is a great tree-lined street with very cool older houses. At some point, I turned south again until I met back up with Erie and then followed that west through Hyde Park Square. There were a few people out running through the Square and I imagine it's a popular place to run.

I was going to turn around at Hyde Park Square but I felt like seeing what else I could see so I kept running down Erie until it came to a dead end at Madison Road. Across Madison is a high school and I could see the football field from Erie so I ran across and took a lap around their track.

The football stadium was very cool. The field is AstroTurf but the track and stands look really old. The stands are all concrete and the track had a nice, rubberized surface but the layout somehow made it feel very dated.

After my lap around the track, I took a straight shot down Erie to Marburg and ran progressively faster all the way home.

It was a fun run around town and I would like to go back to that track again. I Love exploring towns on foot like this!

Goal For The Day: Exploratory Run.
Distance: 5.16 Miles.
Time: 35:50. 6:57 Avg. (7:00, 7:05, 7:24, 6:55, 6:32, 0:52*).
Route: Run Around Cincinnati.
Conditions: 53 degrees. 9:25AM.

Notes: I somehow thought it was much colder out than it actually was. I wore a long sleeve thermal shirt and came back to the house with my sleeves pulled up and way to sweaty for weather this nice.

Daily Miles: 5.16 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 607.76 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Race Report: 5K On Turkey Day

We woke up at 6am and left Ben and Maja's around 6:30. The race was at the Lifetime Fitness gym in Deerfield Township and the drive didn't take us as long as we thought it would. There was a slight delay on the way to the race because our GPS took us to an empty parking lot, but a truck came by setting up cones in the road for the race and they pointed us in the right direction.

We got to the gym just before 7:00 and followed the crowd to an indoor, astro-turf-covered field where we registered for the race. (This gym was amazing... too bad we weren't allowed to go inside.)

Most of the registration process was the same old routine but this is the first race that I've ever run that used scantron forms to enter our information into the computer.

Liz and I filled in all of the little bubbles with our info, paid our entry fee, found out we wouldn't get shirts because we registered the day of the race, pinned on our bib numbers, secured our timing chips to our shoes, and we were ready to go!

The race started at 8:00 and we had some time to spare so we went back to the car to rest for a few minutes. We were parked right by the start/finish line so we could hang out in the car right up until it was time to go.

I followed my usual pre-race routine and started stretching about 15 minutes before the start and then went for a warm-up run around the parking lot. I met up with Liz just before the start to wish her luck and then we took our separate positions at the starting line.

Our goal for the race was to each set a PR so I was trying for better than 17:42 and Liz was trying to beat 31:18. We didn't know what to expect from the course, but neither PR seemed very likely for all of the reasons I mentioned yesterday.

Liz mixed in with the middle of the pack and huddled in with the crowd for warmth. It was a cold morning but not too horrible. In fact, I contemplated leaving my gloves in the car but decided to wear them at the last minute because the wind had a bite to it. I lined up near the front of the pack with all of the crazy runners in their running shorts and singlets. There were goosebumps everywhere!

Runners can be an anxious, jittery bunch at the beginning of a race. There's a lot of bouncing around and shaking of limbs at a starting line. That anxiety quickly rises when the start of a race is delayed. The serious (sometimes too serious) runners at the front of the pack have timed their warm-up to be ready right at the designated starting time. When they're forced to wait and start to cool down, they quickly become disgruntled. It's even worse when it's cold outside. The start of this race was delayed close to 10 minutes for some reason so the man with the starting gun spent several tense minutes trying to calm increasingly inpatient runners.

Eventually, the gun did sound and we all took off running out of the parking lot and into the first turn of what turned out to be one large loop.

I went out with the leaders but hung back several places, hovering somewhere around 6th place. I've been running 1-mile repeats at the track lately and I was a little worried I would match the pace from those workouts and run my first mile too fast. At the same time, I knew I had to run the fastest 3 miles I could if I wanted to set a new PR. I was mostly adjusting my pace by feel and I apparently felt like I was going faster than my actual pace. I hit the first mile in 5:53. I needed to average 5:42 per mile so I was already 11 seconds behind with two miles to go. Not the best position for a PR.

The course was hilly but all of the hills were rolling and none were particularly steep. I felt like I was making good time and I passed a couple of people in the second mile but my watch reported a time of 11:58 at Mile 2... that wasn't going to cut it.

The 5K and 10K were run at the same time so about mid-way through the race, several runners pealed off onto the 10K course and there were suddenly fewer people in front of me. I was in 3rd place with just over a mile to go but I could feel myself slipping off of the pace.

One guy passed me just as we passed Mile 2 and I could tell he was feeling better than I was. He continued to cruise past me and another guy came up on my shoulder but I held him off for a while. We ran a little out-and-back extension of the course that gave us a good view of our competition with 3/4 of a mile to go. Besides the guy on my shoulder, I didn't have anyone behind me that was threatening to move up in the last stretch of the race.

We completed the out-and-back section and were now running uphill on the road Liz and I drove in on. Each cone in the road meant we were closer to the finish line but I was struggling to keep the pace up. The guy next to me put on a surge and I couldn't keep up so I dropped into 5th place. I checked my watch and I definitely wasn't going to set a new PR, but I still tried to lean in and move my legs just a little faster so I could clock a good time. I turned the corner and ran back into the parking to the finish line in 18:49. I missed my PR by over a minute and I've run better times in the past couple of years, but I was still happy with the effort and didn't feel like I slacked at all today so I'll take it.

The car was parked close by so I grabbed my camera and Flip cam to capture Liz's finish when she came through. Like I said, the last 3/4 of a mile are up a long, steady hill and when you turn into the parking lot toward the finish line, it's still an uphill slope. I could see the effect of the hill on the runners as they came into the finish and several were walking when they turned the corner for the finish.

I expected Liz to finish sometime between 30 and 35 minutes. It was a cold day... the course was hilly... we didn't get a lot of sleep last night... and she set PR's in her last two 5K's... so I wasn't expecting a super-fast finish today. I thought it would be exciting if she could break her record of 31:18 but I was just hoping she could get through the race without any major problems.

I almost missed her finish!

It was a good thing I was paying attention because Liz came around the corner way before I was expecting her. She ran around the corner and I could tell the hill got to her because she stopped for a short walk break. I got my cameras ready and checked the clock... she was just over the 28 minute mark!

When I looked back and started taking pictures, Liz was running again and finished strong with a HUGE new PR of 28:42! She didn't just beat her previous best, she shattered it! Liz improved her best time by 2 minutes and 36 seconds. That's an average of 51 seconds-per-mile faster than her previous best!!!

Liz crossing the finish line with a new PR!

In the home stretch.

Official chip time: 28:42!!!

I ran over to were Liz was sitting after the finish line and we were both giddy about her time. We went back into the registration area where it was warmer to talk about our races, eat some post-race snacks, and wait for the results.

A lady was nice enough to take our picture... and then took a picture of our legs. She said, "Now you can edit them together!" I'm not sure why she didn't just turn the camera to get a full-body shot, but she was excited about her solution so we just went with it.

Most of the results were posted pretty quickly and I placed 5th overall but the age group awards were a little tricky. They were giving out glass mugs instead of medals but they were only giving mugs to the first place finisher in each age group. Most races give awards to the 1st through 3rd place overall finishers and don't count those finishers in the age group standings. I talked to a volunteer and she said that was the plan for this race too. She was wrong.

Liz and I waited quite a while for the awards thinking I won my age group. The guys that finished 2nd and 3rd overall were 32 and 33 years old, but they wouldn't count in my age group if the top 3 got awards. I was technically the 3rd male age 30-34 to cross the finish line, but the first in that age group if you didn't count the top 3. After a long wait, they started the awards and we knew right away there weren't awards for the top 3 finishers. So, no mug for me. It wasn't a big deal except that we could have been back at Ben and Maja's helping with the Thanksgiving preparations almost an hour sooner.

Even more disappointing was when we checked the results later and realized Liz placed 2nd in her age group! I think this is the first time Liz has placed in her age group and it was even at a good-sized race. Unlucky that they didn't give awards three-deep in each age group.

You can tell we got bored waiting by how entertaining I thought these pictures were:

Shoe hug!

I even posed for a picture with the scary turkey they had running around.

So at the end of the day, I didn't come close to my goal of setting a PR but Liz absolutely crushed hers! We updated the Gomer Nation spreadsheet with our times and then spent the rest of the day gorging ourselves on a Thanksgiving feast!

Goal For The Day: Race!
Distance: 3.10 Miles.
Time: 18:49. 6:04 Avg. (5:53, 6:04, 6:14, 0:36*).
Route: 5K On Turkey Day.
Conditions: 43 degrees. 8:00AM.

Time: 28:42. 9:15 avg.
142nd out of 488 finishers.
55 out of 270 women.
2nd out of women ages 25-29!!!

Time: 18:49. 6:04 avg.
5th out of 488 finishers.
5th out 218 of men.
3rd out of 17 men ages 30-34.

Notes: Super proud of Liz today! I think she's finally starting to feel like a runner. I also passed the 600 mile mark since starting this blog!

Daily Miles: 3.10 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 602.60 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Listening To Myself

I left work at noon today so Liz and I could drive to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving. It's about a six hour drive so we loaded up the iPods with podcasts for the trip. Of course, Gomers were on the list and we listened to my interview with Anthony.

First of all, I'm not a fan of listening to my own voice. It's just weird. That's not how I sound in my head. Second, it was weird to hear the interview again because there were things I had forgotten I said. I was also surprised that the entire interview was used and Anthony didn't edit anything out. I hope it isn't so long it bores people.

I also don't feel like I sounded very excited which is weird because I was super excited to be on the show. I think I was so worried about talking over Anthony or making too much noise, that I was doing a lot of silent laughter which doesn't translate well to an audio podcast. Anyway, it was fun being on the podcast but I can understand what the Gomers mean when they say it's weird listening to themselves.

After we arrived in Cincinnati, we settled in with the family and met our new niece for the first time (in person... Skype doesn't count). Adela is beautiful and it's fun to see my brother and sister-in-law as new parents!

We finalized our plans for tomorrow and it sounds like most of the hard work has already been done so Liz and I are free to run a race in the morning. We looked up some races in the area and settled on the "Deerfield Township and Lifetime Fitness 10K on Turkey Day and 5K Run/Walk".

It sounds like the race is only about 30 minutes from Ben and Maja's house, the entry fee is relatively cheap, and it sounds like a good-sized race without being overwhelming. The race starts at 8am so we don't have to be up too early either which is nice since it's been a long day.

Our goal is to set new personal bests as part of the Two Gomers' challenge. I'm not sure how realistic that is for either of us, but we'll try.

My PR in the 5K is 17:42. That's an average pace of about 5:42 per mile. I ran that in my senior year of college and I've always wondered how accurate that PR is. I was actually in the lead early in that race and was directed down the wrong street. I figured it out pretty quickly and a volunteer waved me down to get me back on course but the majority of the runners had passed me by then. I was frustrated and took off in a sprint to get back to the front and then just kept going. I finished in first place and couldn't believe my time. So, either the wrong turn was enough to make me panic and I ran incredibly fast to set a personal best that day because of it... or the course wasn't measured well and a 17:42 after a wrong turn is unrealistic. I'll never know. I haven't run a 5K in less than 18 minutes since then. I know I can run 3 miles under 5:42 each because I've done it in workouts lately... but I took a break after each mile! We'll see if I can run them back-to-back tomorrow morning.

Liz's PR might be asking a lot too. She set a new PR in both of her last two 5K's. She ran a PR in the Harvest Moon 5K in Eureka on October 22nd, and then she turned around and beat that time in the Race To The Finish Line in New York on November 5th. Before setting those personal bests, she was hoping to run a sub-30 minute 5K and set a new PR tomorrow morning. Her current PR is 31:18. That's an average of 10:06 per mile. Setting a PR three races in a row would be ridiculous enough, but to knock another 1:18 off of her time is probably unrealistic. I think she's satisfied with her two recent PR's and will be able to walk away happy with any time tomorrow as long as it's a solid effort.

So, off to bed. In the morning, we'll race a 5K and then we can gorge ourselves on Turkey and trimmings for the rest of the day!

Goal For The Day: Pick a race.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 599.50 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Week Of Preparation

Well, for settling down after the marathon, I did a decent job of staying active this week in an attempt to set a PR on Thanksgiving. I've been busy with work and teaching at Jeffco (the semester is wrapping up) and I didn't have a ton to say about this week's workouts so I decided to just do a week in review instead of daily updates.

I'm still trying to figure out my format for this blog as I move past New York. It was a daily (or almost-daily) motivational tool for myself while I was training for the marathon. I know I won't write every day now but I haven't decided if I'll still update with each workout or if I'll do weekly summaries. Decisions, decisions.

So, here's my week of workouts:

Monday was a day off. No running of any kind.

Tuesday involved a trip to the gym with Liz. I did a little lifting and ran a mile on the indoor track while I waited for her to meet me after work. 9.5 laps around the crooked little track is a mile so I don't run on it very often. I didn't even time myself today... how's that for off-season running?

Liz and I swam 3x300 meters and I could tell it's been a while since I've been in the water.

Goal For The Day: Swim.
Distance: 900 meters. (3 x 300m).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: A token mile on the indoor track and a 900m swim. I don't think today's workout does much for chasing a PR, but it sure felt good!

Wednesday involved a last-minute decision to squeeze in some time at the track. I got home from teaching class early enough that I decided to go for some speed work. Unfortunately, by the time I got home, changed, grabbed my gear, and was ready to go, I was already short on time if I wanted to go to our weekly dinner with friends. I decided to skip the jog to and from the track and just drove to save time.

I planned to run 3 Mile repeats but stopped after only 2. It was much colder than I planned with the sun going down and I couldn't read my stopwatch in the dark so my cold fingers and my inability to check my pace during each mile made it easy to skip the last interval. Plus, it was time for dinner!

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 2.00 Miles.
Time: 2 x 1Mile (5:38, 5:40).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 41 degrees/windy. 4:45PM.

Notes: My goal was to run each mile interval between 5:30 and 5:45. I could only really see the stopwatch at the start and finish of each mile so I was happy that both intervals were so close to each other. I should have worn gloves!

Thursday was a day off. No workouts.

Friday I was a good, dedicated runner and got up early to go to the track and run some Bannister Repeats. What a sad way to spend a Friday morning!

I jogged to the track, peeled off a layer of clothes, and ran 6x400m. I found out that intervals in the cold involve just as much discomfort as intervals in the heat. Over the summer, I was obviously uncomfortable while running each 400 but at least the breeze would cool me off. When I stopped between intervals, I got to rest but I was immediately drenched in sweat. Now that it's cold outside, I'm still uncomfortable running each interval and it's now more of a 'wind-chill' than a breeze. Then I would try to stay warm while I wasn't moving between intervals. No wonder track is a spring sport!

The up side was that I was still surprised by how easily the speed came. My goal was the usual 1:15 for each interval and I found I could hit that pace without killing myself. I'm still shocked there hasn't been more of a drop-off after the marathon.

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 5.73 Miles.
Time: 6 x 400m. (1:14, 1:14, 1:13, 1:14, 1:14, 1:14).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 40 degrees. 7:02AM.

Notes: 2.15 Mile jog to the track. 6x400m. 2.08 Mile jog home. Goal was 1:15 each. Felt good and was much more comfortable running intervals in the cold with proper clothing.

Saturday was yet another day of rest.

Sunday was my last workout of the week and probably my last workout before the Thanksgiving 5K.

The forecast called for rain pretty much all morning but I was determined to get one more workout in today. When there was a break in the weather, I got dressed in a hurry and started a jog to the track. I wanted to do 3 Mile repeats and then jog home before it started raining again.

I didn't even make it to the track before a light rain started.

I was bundled up for the cold so the light drizzle didn't bother me and the first mile felt really good. The rain picked up just a little for the start of the second mile and every lap seemed to bring more rain. I was walking a lap around the track between intervals and when I got to the far side of the track after the second mile, I thought I heard someone say my name. I looked over and Liz was standing at the gate under an umbrella. She was going to the store and stopped to see if I wanted a ride home. She knew the rain was picking up and thought I might have bitten off more than I cared to chew today. By then, I only had one interval left and I was already wet so I told her I was fine but it was super-sweet of her to think of me!

I ran the last interval in full-on rain and even though it was cold, I think I got my usual boost from running in the rain because I was really happy with my times.

As soon as I started the jog home, my shoes seemed to reach their rain-resistant limit. They didn't bother me at all during the workout but the two-mile jog home involved some very squishy shoes.

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 7.19 Miles.
Time: 3 x 1 Mile. (5:33, 5:36, 5:37).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 37 degrees/Rainy. 11:18AM.

Notes: 2.10 Mile jog to the track. 3x1Mile. 2.09 Mile jog home. Goal was 5:30-5:45 each. I'm happy with the times. If only I could run those back-to-back without a break! Then I'd have my new PR! A hot shower at home felt great!!!

Weekly Miles:
  Run - 15.92 Miles.
  Swim - 900 meters.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 599.50 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Next On My Plate: Turkey

Since I don't have my next big pursuit lined up, I'm focusing on short-term goals. Next up is a challenge from the Two Gomers Run For Their Lives podcast.
Two Gomers Website

The Gomers and I are in similar positions... we don't have any major races on the calendar. Anthony recently became a father and is adjusting to what he and Steven call "The New Normal" so they're doing things a little differently this season. They're starting this season with two challenges to the Gomer Nation:

Challenge #1 - The 10x12 Challenge
The Gomers changed the title of their podcast to better fit their current goal of overall healthier living. Part of that goal is maintaining a healthy weight. Both guys decided they would like to lose 10lbs. by New Year's Day. They're updating the Nation on their progress and inviting people to lose as much healthy weight as they can by 2012. I'm not interested in losing any weight at the moment because I'm fresh off of training for a marathon so I'm sitting this challenge out.

Challenge #2 - A Turkey Trot PR
The Gomers are busy with life's many demands on their time so their setting their sights on a short-distance race. They've been focusing on speed and shorter workouts and hope to set a PR for the 5K distance on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the Nation is encouraged to find a local 5K on Thanksgiving and try to run a personal best time. I set my personal best in college and haven't been able to match it since then, but Liz and I both plan to find a 5K to run while we're in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving. We'll do our best to set PR's and report back to the Gomers with our results.

So, for the next two weeks, I'll put in a few speedwork sessions and hope that I can shake off any sluggish post-marathon legs I have going on.

Today was a good start. My intention was to get in an easy middle-distance run to continue loosening my legs up. I ran the Kircher Park Loop and the first mile ticked past faster than I expected. I surprised myself with a 6:49 and felt great so I picked up a little speed on the downhill on Central and really let myself go on the mile leading into the park. I turned for home feeling great and was practically giddy with how quickly the speed came when I wanted it. I really expected more of a drop-off during the few weeks after the marathon. About 4 miles into the run I decided I shouldn't overdo it and eased off the pace a bit but I still finished much faster than I expected.

It's days like this that make me want to go right into another marathon and see what I can do.

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 6.03 Miles.
Time: 40:44. 6:46 Avg. (6:49, 6:29, 6:16, 6:41, 7:05, 7:09, 0:13*).
Route: Kircher Park Loop.
Conditions: 78 degrees. 2:54PM.

Notes: Planned an easy run but the speed felt too good. This is November, right? I shouldn't be shirtless and getting a tan on a run in November!

Daily Miles: 6.03 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 583.58 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 13,450+ meters.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Looking Back And Looking Ahead

I started this blog on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011. Here is my first post:

Runners to your marks...

Goal For The Day: Start a Blog.

Another blog.

If history is any indication, I'll stick with posting for a few days and then forget about it for months. But I think that's the point of this blog... to break old habits.

Since 2001, I've run 16 marathons in 7 different states. For years, I've been trying to qualify for Boston. At this point, running the Boston Marathon doesn't even mean as much to me as reaching that magic 3:10 mark. I've come close a couple of times (3:15 in Cincinnatti 2010), but haven't been able to break that barrier. At times, I felt I was in shape to qualify but race-day circumstances made for a tough day. Other times, I've started my training with enthusiasm only to slack off in later months and show up to race day less than prepared for a 3:10 attempt.

Besides qualifying for Boston, one of my goals is to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. So far, I've crossed off Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, California, Florida, and most recently Minnesota. I decided that I would like to run the New York Marathon and I'd heard how difficult it can be to get in. I knew that if you entered the lottery three years in a row without getting chosen, you're automatically allowed entry on the fourth year. So, this spring, I decided I should start entering the lottery so I can run New York in a few years. As luck would have it, I was chosen on my first try! In November, I'll be running the New York Marathon!!!

Several of my more recent marathons have been in uncomfortably warm weather. I have a hard time running in the heat and I can feel myself falling apart in the later miles of the marathon when the temperature is in the 80's. I'm assuming that the weather in New York will be cool in November (if not downright cold!) so I decided this is as good of an opportunity as any to really make a push for 3:10.

My hope is that writing in this blog will help me stay motivated four months from now when I'm putting in the serious mileage and having trouble getting out of bed in the morning to run. I plan to log my daily workouts and any thoughts or epiphanies I have during my training. Ideally, I'll cross the finish line in November and be able to look back at this blog as a record of how I finally broke the 3:10 barrier.

Today is the first time I've read that post since not long after I wrote it. I've posted over 130 times since then. Looking back over the past five months and reading my own thoughts from when I started my journey to New York, I don't think things could have turned out much better.

I talked about breaking old habits and sticking to a routine... check!

I talked about adding another state to my list of marathon locations... New York... check!

I talked about breaking the 3:10 barrier I've been chasing for years... check!

This is the first marathon that I can honestly say I've been completely satisfied with my performance. I've run other marathons that I could say I was happy with my times and I'm always happy just to finish. But I ran the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon last September and finished thinking I had run my best that day and wondered if I would ever have that feeling after a full marathon. I have that feeling after New York. I might have been able to squeeze another minute or so from the clock, but there wasn't much left out on the course. From start to finish, I feel like I ran a hard, smart race and I'm confident I didn't have more in me. That doesn't mean I won't go faster some day... I just couldn't that day!

I wrote about my time in New York in detail and I don't think that there's much left to say. I accomplished what I went there to accomplish. The experience far exceeded my expectations. I received an incredible amount of support from so many people, I can't begin to express my gratitude. I took on a new challenge and had an adventure I'll never forget.

So what's next?

Well, for starters, I went for my first post-marathon run today. I just wanted to get out, stretch my legs, and get back on the horse. I took almost a week off to just relaxed and today I took an easy run around Eureka.

My plan is to back off of the strict schedule for a while... probably through the end of the year... and just run when I feel the urge. I'm in that in-between time that has become strange to me... when I finish one adventure and haven't figured out what my next challenge will be. I have some ideas, but I haven't settled on anything yet.

I do have a couple of short-term goals to hold me over. One is a 5K on Thanksgiving Day. I'll talk a little more about that tomorrow. I'm also considering running the St. Louis Track Club's Frostbite Series. Without a specific event coming up, I know I'll slack off during the winter so the Frostbite Series will give me a reason to keep moving. Plus, it's always fun to race a series and I haven't run one in a few years. I'm looking forward to some short, fast races!

So, for now, I'm basking in the afterglow of New York but my mind is already tossing around some ideas for future adventures!

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 3.93 Miles.
Time: 28:41. 7:18 Avg. (7:04, 7:14, 7:26, 6:55*)
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop.
Conditions: 60 degrees. 3:29PM.

Notes: First run back following the marathon. Felt good to get out there again. Crazy how warm it is for November.

Daily Miles: 3.93 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 577.55 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 13,450+ meters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interviewed For The Two Gomers' Podcast!

"Two Gomers Run For Their Lives" is easily my favorite running-related podcast and quite possibly my favorite podcast overall. So when I got a message from Gomer #1 (Anthony) yesterday asking if he could interview me for the podcast, I was very excited and a little nervous.

Anthony said they had about 20 minutes to fill in their upcoming episode and asked if we could talk about my experience in New York. We made arrangements to talk on Skype tonight.

Unfortunately, Gomer #2 (Steven) was out of town, so it would just be me and Anthony. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be a very interesting interviewee to begin with and I was hoping Anthony and Steven would make up for anything I was lacking with their witty banter. Knowing I might make for a boring segment on the podcast made me nervous.

Once Anthony and I started talking, my nerves settled down and the more we talked, the more I relaxed. One of the great surprises from meeting the Gomers in Minneapolis in June was that we all got along so well, it was like we became instant friends. Talking to Anthony felt like chatting with an old friend and he lived in New York for a while so he was excited to talk about the marathon and the city. We got a little carried away and our planned 20 minutes turned into over an hour. We kept wrapping up only to think of something else we wanted to talk about.

Here's the link for the interview:
The Two Gomers Interview

I had a blast talking to Anthony and he assures me he can edit the interview down to fit the needs of the podcast. It was fun to get a little behind-the-scenes view of the Gomers' podcast and it was great talking to Anthony again. As an added bonus, Anthony's wife, Erin came home just as we were wrapping up and Liz and I got to say hello to their new little girl. Lily is super cute and Anthony is so excited about being a dad!

It was also fun reliving the trip to New York but I think I'm ready for a short break while I figure out my next big adventure.

Goal For The Day: Rest.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: I'm still walking a little funny but I'm already recovering well. I would normally go for a jog tomorrow but I think I'll take the next few days off.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 573.62 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 13,450+ meters.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marathon Weekend - Day 5 - Monday

I assume my alarm went off at 5am as scheduled but I sure didn't wake up for it. I woke up closer to 6:00 and Rick was already up and waiting for our trip to the Today Show. He had been doing some research of his own and found out that you don't actually have to be there that early unless there's a famous guest appearing on the show.

Since we had more time than we thought and were leaving the condo later than planned, Liz decided to join us and we started our walk to Rockefeller Plaza a little after 6:30.

When we got to the taping area, I was surprised by how small the fenced off section of the plaza is. I guess because they usually only show small chunks of the area at a time on tv, I imagined it being bigger. The security guards almost didn't let us in with our "Road Runner" sign but we were eventually allowed to pass. I don't know if they were worried about the plastic sign or the stick.

(Outside the Today Show studios.)

We settled on a spot at the corner of the fencing that allowed us to get close to the barrier and we could still see Ann and Al in the studio through the windows to our right.

(Everyone wanted to be on t.v.)

(Liz waiting outside the Today Show.)

It was a pretty cold morning but our plan was to hang out a while and see if we could get our Team Gomer shirt on t.v. We Love the Two Gomers podcast and one of the Gomers, Anthony, has talked about recording the Today Show every day. We thought the Gomers would get a kick out of seeing their name on national television.

(Waiting like good Gomer fans.)

We waited patiently while the show went through it's first hour but they kept setting up the cameras in other parts of the plaza. Rick walked around for a while and waited with us but he eventually made his way back to the warm condo while we stayed just a little longer.

Unfortunately, this is the week that Matt Lauer is travelling for 'Where in the World is Matt Lauer' so we weren't able to meet him today. The crew passed out little foam-core Matt Lauer's on sticks for the crowd to hold. Liz got one so we were able to take Little Matt home with us.

Eventually, Ann and Al came out on the plaza for a segment. Of course, the crowd went crazy when they came outside.

(Ann and Al live on the plaza.)

(Al working the crowd.)

(Some fellow Cardinals fans at the Today Show!)

During the commercial break, Al Roker walked around saying hello to people in the crowd and Liz got to shake his hand when she met him!

(Liz met Al Roker!)

(For the Gomers!)

After the next segment, Ann Curry made the rounds. She was super nice and took time to chat with people. We both got to shake her hand and when she saw my marathon medal, she congratulated me on the race. She also commented on how cold my hand was and thanked us for standing out in the cold to see the show.

(Liz met Ann Curry!)

(It only looks like her mouth was stuck like that...
she was fine.)

We still hadn't been on t.v. so we decided to stay just a little longer and then we were going to go warm up. At the same time, the people in front of us left and we were able to get right up to the fence. If we were going to get our Gomers shirt on t.v., we were in the right place to do it.

(Front row!)

Al, Ann, and Natalie Morales came out to tape another segment and not long after that, we had our chance. When the show went to a commercial break, the camera man walked right along the fence toward us and right by us! We were only on for a second, but we accomplished our mission! I immediately sent Anthony a text telling him to watch the Today show and what segment to look for.

A couple of friends sent me texts within the hour saying they saw me on the Today Show! The problem was, people only mentioned seeing me. No one mentioned Liz. We started to think we had waited out in the cold that whole time and then, at the moment of truth, I held the Gomers' shirt in front of Liz's face and she didn't make it on t.v.

Luckily, Anthony (Gomer 1) sent out a request to the Gomer Nation asking people to take a picture of the Gomer shirt on the Today Show. A fan in Hawaii snapped a photo of the shirt and it proved that half of Liz's face made it on t.v. and I didn't completely cover her up!

(Weeee did it!)

By the time we were finished becoming famous at the Today Show, Mom and Rick were ready to do some final sight-seeing and came to meet us at Rockefeller Plaza. We had a hot drink at the Starbucks on the lower level near the skating rink and made plans to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

We walked through the lower level of Rockefeller Plaza and got on the subway yet again to get to Brooklyn.

(A significant amount of the weekend was spent underground.)

The Brookly Bridge is amazing and offers a great view of Manhattan as you walk back onto the island. They were doing some work on part of the bridge but there was a lane for pedestrians and a lane for bikes. We merged into the flow of people walking the bridge and enjoyed the view.

(Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.)

(On the Brooklyn Bridge with the Statue of Liberty in the background.)

The Brooklyn Bridge was awesome and our trip was winding down but we had a little time left before we had to leave for the airport so we made one more stop before returning to the condo. Our last stop in the city was FAO Schwarz!

The store didn't look that big when we walked into the lobby but it just kep going. I Love toys! We had a lot of fun looking around and Liz even caved to my peer pressure and put on a Captain America mask.

(Liz doesn't make a very good Captain America.)

There were a lot of cool toys but the Lego sculptures were easily my favorite!

(Hmm... Which is better?)

I didn't realize they actually had a giant piano like in 'Big'!!! It took a lot of will power to resist the urge to ditch my shoes and dance on it.

(Chopsticks, anyone?)

There was a deli across the street from FAO Schwarz so we stopped for a quick lunch and then walked back to the condo to load up our luggage and head to the airport. On the walk home, we passed a building with two fountains that looked like dandelions. Very cool!

After five days of incredible big-city adventures, it was time to go home. A cab picked us up at the condo and took us back to the airport. Our cabbie thought he was in the middle of some kind of race and might have been playing a game to see how close he could get to every car he saw. I was so tired from the long week, I dozed off a couple of times but Mom rode the whole way in white-knuckled fear.

Our flight was delayed an hour so we settled in at the gate and waited for the plane to arrive. When it was time to board, they congratulated all of the marathon finishers over the loud speaker.

I preferred flying into the city with a daytime view, but it was cool to leave with a view of the city at night.

A short flight later, we were setting foot back on St. Louis soil. Rick went to get the car while Mom, Liz, Matt Lauer, and I grabbed our luggage.

The ING New York City Marathon weekend is over. I don't think we could have packed more fun into 5 days and I can't imagine a more incredible marathon weekend. That being said... it's good to be home!!!

Goal For The Day: Tour New York and Go Home.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: Four words: New York was awesome!!!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run: 573.62 Miles.
  Bike: 144.45 Miles.
  Swim: 13,450+ meters.