Thursday, January 04, 2007

Blog hiatus is over.

It’s been a few weeks since my last post! A few things took place over this time. I’ll begin with Lisa’s marathon in this post.

Lisa ran her first marathon back in late November at the Philadelphia Marathon. Man, what an experience!

Lisa signed up for this race at the challenge of my father. He was also supposed to run, but unfortunately came down with bad bronchitis a week before. They set this challenge back in May. It was a $100 bet. Before making this challenge, Lisa’s longest road race was a 5k. That, plus she hadn’t really run regularly in over 11 years. She was an All-American runner in college but that was in track in the 400 meters. Going from a 55 second event to a 3 hour 45 minute event is just a bit of a change!

Her training plan called for three to four runs a week, building up her long run. The fourth run never really happened each week, and she averaged three runs per week until the last six weeks, where time constraints and a slight knee irritation got the best of her and she averaged two runs per week. She did build up her long run and got in two - three hour runs plus a bunch of two and a half hour ones as well. It was pretty cool watching her go through the process. She hasn’t had a big personal goal for herself in a very long time. It was great seeing her take a small amount of time for herself each week and using it towards a challenge or goal. She’d come back from some of her long runs emotional, feeling proud of what she just did.

Lisa is probably more competitive than me. She times every run, and when running routes that she had done before, she would compare times. She’d often overanalyze specific training runs, putting all of the weight of her marathon results on these sessions. Initially, she wanted to just finish, and feel good. But, by July, Lisa was asking me if I thought she could go under four hours.

I’d find myself nervous about her when she was out on her long runs in training. The kids and I would check up on her from the car or from bikes each week during her long run. I also ran with her on her shorter runs, pushing Kate in the jogger, while Ryan would ride his bike. She’d constantly be looking at her watch and analyzing her pace.

Race weekend:

I had a few athletes competing in the race besides Lisa. We went out with Baker and Gus for dinner the night before to a cool restaurant in Philadelphia. Lisa was nervous. I thought it would be good for her to laugh, so we took an entertaining taxi ride from the restaurant to the movie theatre to see Borat. Baker and I laughed so hard that it actually hurt. This was a fun diversion that took their minds off of the race for awhile.

The morning of the race, Lisa and I were in the lobby of our hotel, waiting to get an elevator. A few guys also waiting asked if I was racing. This was bizarre. I mean, it was a total role reversal. I replied “nope, she is!” already proud of her and enjoying being in the other shoes. It was real cool to step back and listen to them talk with her about the race, pacing, training, …

Race day was nice – sunny and low 50’s. I took Lisa and Baker’s extra clothing and stuffed them into my backpack, gave Lisa a kiss, and ran out to the two mile mark so that I could get some good pictures. As I stood there waiting for them to run by, I found myself overly nervous. I hate when things are out of my control, and, although I was confident in Lisa, I was worried. Not worried about her finishing. I knew she would. But just hoping that she had a good day and that she got everything out of it that she had hoped to. I was a bit worried too that her competitive nature would get the best of her and that she’d go out overly quick.

Soon, she came running by, and I snapped a few pictures off her, and then ran along side her for a few more miles, taking more photo’s.

At the thirteen mile mark, I ran into Gus who looked relaxed and strong. I asked if he had seen Molson, to which he hadn’t. 30 seconds later, Jeff came by and I told him to go get Gus. There were so many people running that Gus and Jeff never even saw each other!

I then saw Lisa and she said she felt fine, but her knee was beginning to bother her. I told her to not focus on it, and to stay steady and get in her nutrition. I ran with her for the next two miles, snapping some more photos. Finally, she turns to me and says “get out of here!” I smiled, told her she was mean, and dropped back. The reality is that she would get emotional when she saw me and she new this was something she had to do on her own and that I couldn’t help her. Not seeing me was an easier way for her to deal with this. I dropped back for a bit and found Baker. He looked smooth. He asked how Lisa was doing and I replied “solid. She’s about 3 minutes up the road.” Bewildered, he pointed forward and said “in front of me?!”.

I then spyed on Lisa from mile 15 to mile 19. I was like a stalker, running either in front or behind with my camera snapping shots, but staying out of site. At the 23 mile mark, Gus comes by looking strong and I say “Gus, keep this pace and you are doing a 2:55!” He said “I’m there!”. He died at the 24 mile mark and finished in 3:01! He still pr’d by over 15 minutes. Jeff was close behind him, finishing his zillionth marathon this year in sub 3:10.

Next in came Lisa. At the 25 mile mark, I reappeared and told her that she had done it and that she should be really proud and to enjoy the last mile. I raced ahead to the finish and watched her cross in 3:46. To say I was proud would be an understatement. Her knee was a bit banged up, but I could tell she was elated.

To witness her do this was the coolest thing that happened in 2006 for me. To watch and help her train, and to see her actually enjoy it was great. Viewing the transformation from May to November was incredible. To see her learn a bit more about herself was special and for our kids to see her do this was inspiring.

The next week at Thanksgiving dinner at my aunts, my father gave Lisa $100. She took the cash and placed it back in his pocket and said “I don’t want your money Jimmy! If it wasn’t for you, I’d never have done this. Thank you.”


1 comment:

Rob Straz said...

Very cool post!

I enjoy reading tales of athletes completing their first race / triathlon / marathon, it's really inspiring and takes you back a bit to when it was really pure with no internal pressures of finishing in a certain time.