Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Journey to the 2014 Boston Marathon well as the journey towards a sub-3:00 marathon

I guess the latter journey technically started with my first marathon in Raleigh, NC in 2002 but didn't begin in earnest until 2009 at the Philadelphia Marathon. I went out WAAAAAY to hard that day  (6:18 pace for first 10 miles!!!) because I got overconfident from running a downhill 1:16:32 half marathon the previous month and crashed & burned in the 2nd half with some cramping around mile 23. 3:15:21

Other failures included:

2011 Pittsburgh - Much more consistent pacing (1:29 at the half) but things got hard around mile 19, I had to back off a lot then my hamstrings seized up around mile 24. 3:22:38

2011 Harrisburg - Went in with the goal of 3:10, was at 1:33 at the half, but the stomach (and then legs) didn't cooperate over the final four miles and more crashing & burning to a 3:22:02

2012 Pittsburgh - Thought I had worked out all of the kinks, went through the half at 1:31:25 with the goal of negative splitting, but I got greedy around mile 17-18, it got hot & humid, and I crashed & burned again down the stretch with some hamstring cramping at 25.5. 3:14:07

2012 Columbus - My closest to breaking the elusive barrier, but came up just short. 3:00:46

I used the 2013 Pittsburgh marathon weekend to try something different and see how fast I could run the half. I just missed 6:00 pace and ended up around 1:18.

2013 Harrisburg - Much of the same. Didn't have enough to finish and ended up 3:02.

Then, the bombing at the Boston marathon happened. It wasn't right away but as summer rolled around (and I was able to actually have time to sit back and think after track season and the school year finished) the thought began to tug at me that it would be neat to be a part of the celebration up in Boston in 2014. So, I submitted my application and got in! Boston here we go! But, if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. I committed to sticking to a great training plan that included not just running but also core work and cross training.

This training cycle was rough. It was really cold. And snowy. And more snow. And more cold. There was the 0 degree day for hill repeats in the dark before school. There was the using a 1 month free membership trial at Anytime fitness to have somewhere to run since everything else had ice on it. There were the repeats behind Walmart because it was flat and clear and the track was still covered. There was the day after the Indoor State Meet. We got back late, they were calling for a big snowstorm the next day. So, I sleep overnight at a hotel near school and the dog boarding location, pick up Roxy, run at home with snow on ground to do a 13xmile workout. It was brutal but I got in all of my training and felt very prepared for this race.

We got up to Boston on Good Friday and the race wasn't until Monday, meaning 3 days of relaxing before a race - almost unheard of with my coaching schedule. It was fun using the t-system. The expo was a zoo, but really fun to be at packet pickup. The morning before, I had a chance to do the shake-out run with a former athlete from my school, his sister (who was still a senior on our team), and their dad who was running the marathon. Beth and I had Easter dinner with the Snow family. That helped pass the time and was nice getting out of the hotel.

Then, it was race morning! Beth walked me to commons and I got on the bus with my bagel, banana, and many layers since it was still cold at this point. I shared a seat with guy from Denver that reminded me so much of a guy that volunteers with our cross country team. Then, we get to Hopkintown and there's the wait. Then, I saw the legendary Mr. Tim Hewitt (who's RUN the Iditarod race!!!). He's from our hometown and has done Boston numerous times. It was great to be able to lean on him for advice on what to do as we waited to go to the starting line. It's finally time to walk down to start. One last stop in the port-o-jons and off to wait with the crowds.

It was moving before the start went off-- the National Anthem, the flyover, the Race Director saying, "Let's take back finish line this year!" All of it was so special and why I was so glad to be a part of it.

Finally the race starts and we're on our way. As we move past the start line it was just as they said in the course video, the people slow you down at the beginning and it's a good thing! The first 5-6 miles just fly by, clicking off splits and staying in control. Through 10 miles I'm still good. I would make moves on the uphills if people around me slowed down.

I get to halfway on pace. The Wellesley College co-eds - screaming so loud that my ears rung after!

I made the right at the fire house (mile 16) - it was a decent hill and I could see people around me starting to fade. I felt like I went in with a solid, conservative plan, had been taking my nutrition and hydrating and pouring water on me (it was getting hotter). I felt good.

At mile 19, the hill I thought was possible heartbreak hill, actually was to come - it went well. More people are starting to fade as the sun continues to pound more on us. It get up heartbreak hill - it was solid but not this wall you have to climb. I think it's more about where it comes in the race..

Coming down by Boston College, it's a downhill and the quads were letting me know that they really hurt. But I felt like I could do it.

There was a long straightaway around mile 23.....still on pace!

There's the Citgo sign outside of Fenway Park - mile 25 and still on pace! One mile to go!

Down a hill, cross under bridge - that's where Beth, her parents and sister saw me but I couldn't see or hear them with the crowds.

I was waiting to make my final right turn and it felt like it took forever.

I labored as I approached the final turn to make the left onto Boyleston.

I took a look at my watch and I knew i had it -  just keep it together - no hamstring seizures!

Every two or three strides I kept looking at watch - trying to realize that I was going to do it! Go sub-3. In Boston. The year after the bombings. After all these years of trying and coming up short.

As I get there, I raised arms at finish line - I finally did it! 2:59:12!

One of the things that help me get through the tough parts of the last half of a  marathon is having a song in my head. I don't know what song it will be but usually I have one that is really speaking to me leading up to a race. This day, I kept singing over and over the song Oceans by Hillsong United.

It was a long walk to meeting area and it was taking forever. I was trashed and didn't want to attempt to bend over. So, I sheepishly asked a medic if they could loosen my lock laces on my shoes. They obliged and congratulated me. All of the support staff at the finish area was super!

I finally met up with Beth & family. We did our traditional post-race dining at 5 Guys Burgers & Fries.

We returned to the hotel, I showered and we went to airport to return home. It was a quick turnaround as our flight was only about 4-5 hours after crossing the finish line. One of Beth's best friends and former college roommates, MB, also did the race and she was on our flight. The two of them talked the entire way home since they hadn't been able to meet up for a long time.

I got home and it was back at it Tuesday morning. The week at school and practice was whirlwind and it was emotionally tough to come down from high. People would ask me about how the race went and I would begin getting teary eyes. The entire experience was so overwhelming!

There are so many thanks:
Mario Fraoli and his book on marathon training. It got the job done!
All of the online cheerers - it was great to get so many messages.
All the Boston Marathon veterans who gave me input and put up with my millions of questions leading up to the race including Nathan Snider, Mr. Gunz, the Saxtons, John Neff, Mr. Tim Hewitt, and many others
The Buchheits (with sister-in-law and former Boston resident Becky as our tour guide and chauffeur)
My parents for keeping track of Roxy the dog.
And, most importantly, Beth for modeling how to be excellent in training and all walks of life. Showing me how to be tough when the race gets tough. And showing me how to chase dreams.

Coming off the Boston high, I did another marathon in the Fall of 2014 in Harrisburg (that's such a nice little marathon!) and ran out of gas to finish 3:04. To be honest, it was like how they say sports teams have "champions hangover" and it was the same way for me. I trained but not with the passion that I did back in the spring.

So, that was my Boston journey. It was simply amazing. Will I ever return to run in Boston? Not sure, but if I never make it back I have memories from my time there that will last a lifetime.

Good luck to everybody running in the 2015 Boston Marathon. Continue to take back the finish line!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Highs and Lows

So it's been a the whole year. But might as well return with the annual highs and lows post. It's been a busy year!


Boston Marathon - #1 by far was the opportunity to take part in the US "super bowl" of marathons. 

Crossing the line in Boston - MAGICAL!

On top of that, to race in it the year after the finish line bombings. In a sense, it was my tiny contribution to stand up for freedom and stand up against terrorism. On top of that, I PR'ed. On top of that, I FINALLY cracked three hours for the first time (2:59:13). It wasn't easy - this winter may have been the most brutal ever. Sub-zero temperatures (and even colder wind chills) and nuisance snows that left the roads covered with an inch or two several times a week. But, it was all worth it!
My #1 supporter!

Head Coach - Another amazing opportunity that I began this summer was taking over the girls running programs from legendary coaches in cross country and track at the high school where I teach at. It was an amazing journey this summer and fall and I'm looking forward to what is in store this winter and spring and the years ahead. If you're interested, we chronicled it on our new team website. The girls worked so hard and I was left with such a great group to lead. The parents were amazing and so supportive, too!

Some of the highlights included finishing runner-up in our district and #5 in the state.
Lots of talented and amazing girls made up our team

Hershey Bars for the team heading to Hershey for the State Championship!

One of our girls had an phenomenal fall and finished individually 3rd in the district and 5th in the state. Now that she's a junior, we discussed her competing in post-state competitions this year and that turned out to be a very positive experience. First, she finished 8th in the Foot Locker Northeast Cross Country Regional. The top 10 in each region qualify for the national championships in San Diego. 

So, I had the opportunity to return to Balboa Park (I accompanied one of our HS boys to the race 5 years ago). At FLCCC, she ran such a smart race and worked her way up from 31st the whole way up to 17th in the final mile.
17th in the country!

A big smile to end the journey that started in June

Happy Valley -  One of the most satisfying, planned-last-minute days occurred in November. Penn State was hosting the NCAA cross country regionals. I originally wasn't planning on going, but things came together so I ended up making the trip up to Penn State. It was an awesome day! 

First, I returned to the Leonhard Building (which happens to be adjacent to the golf course where the XC race was), where I spent many hours as an undergrad and then graduate Industrial Engineering student. On the off-chance he was around, I stopped by to visit the professor I did my Masters Thesis with - Dr. Andris Freivalds. 
Dr. Freivalds in the labcoat contributing to the show "Going Deep with David Rees"
For those of you who watched the National Geographic Channel this summer, you may know him better at "Dr. Shovel." It turned out he was there so we had a chance to catch up and he even came out to watch the cross country race on his lunch break run.

In the actual races, we had three Mt. Lebanon alumni competing - a freshman girl for Penn State, a sophomore boy for George Washington, and a fifth-year senior at St. Joseph's. The St. Joseph's runner was coming off an Atlantic 10 conference victory and he had a shot at qualifying for nationals. Things didn't work out in the last mile and he didn't finish high enough. Still a super career by such a solid young man. On the women's side, our alum only a few months after graduation finished 12th in the race and earned the 4th and final individual at-large spot to punch her ticket to the NCAA National Championship race! What a surprise and an amazing accomplishment!
Continuing on the Mt. Lebanon running tradition in college

The NCAA National Qualifier in the middle surrounded by Mt. Lebanon ladies

After the races, I went over to the Bookstore to buy some PSU gear and stopped by the HUB to grab some food. A really fun day!

Road Trip with Dad - Last year, Beth and I took a non-running/triathlon trip to Tampa to see my 2nd favorite baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays. It was such a fun trip, I talked my dad into joining me this year. It was one of those father-son bonding excursions. We began by seeing a morning game in Bradenton with the Pirates' High-A affiliate (Bradenton Marauders). One of the top pitchers in the entire minor leagues, Tyler Glasnow, was on the mound for the Marauders. After the game, we went over to Pirate City to check out the Pirates' spring training facilities. 
Game 1 in Bradenton

Then, that night and the next afternoon we saw the Pirates play against Tampa Bay in Tropicana Field. After baking at the game in Bradenton, we were seeing the benefits to an indoor baseball stadium - genius! 3 games in 28 hours was a blast!

Game 2 in St. Petersburg - notice the same shirts - 2 games in one day!

Beth in Kona - I would be remiss to not include Beth's accomplishments as a professional triathlete as one of my highs. She has improved each year in the sport and I'm so proud of her. This year had some in-season highs & lows as she dealt with a hip issue in April and May that set back the middle of her season and the chance to qualify for Kona. However, after some solid half ironman showings in Syracuse and Muncie, she had an amazing race at Ironman Mont Tremblant to finish 3rd overall and earn enough points to qualify for Kona! At Kona (aka the Ironman World Championships) she finished 27th among all of the professional females. 27th in the WORLD!!!
Beth's mom made the trip with her...
...while I set up command central at home. (Didn't go due to my new coaching responsibilities)

Undefeated year in "The Heights" - Now, the town we live in will never, ever be mistaken for a running hotbed. In fact, other than Beth and I, we maybe only see another 5 or so people ever out on the roads in the neighborhoods. And to see two different people on the same run? Almost unheard of. With that being said, I ran in two hometown 5k's and won both of them. 
Nothing like a police escort to the finish line of the race!

Each was run on a very flat course and I ended up going pretty fast on both, including an unexpected new 5k PR in the latter. While my official time was 16:27, I figured it was short. I ran it twice the next day with my GPS and concluded it was around 3.03-3.05 miles so add a few seconds and it's still a 16:40-ish 5k. I'll take it!


Blog Ignored - Last winter I just didn't get around to it. After Boston, I wrote a blog in my head a handful of times but never sat down to type it out. Over the summer, I was busy getting things ready for cross country, and the fall just flew by. Hopefully next year, I'll do a better job of keeping up with writing. In writing this post, I did realize that I used social media like Facebook and Twitter to log the events of the year at least. One other place that I created and maintained through the fall was my high school's cross country website that detailed the journey of our team from the first day of summer, through the state championship, and the Foot Locker race in San Diego.

Harrisburg Marathon - All summer, I had trouble coming off of the "Boston Marathon High." I trained, but I didn't have the same passion that I needed to in order to set a new PR nor did I commit sufficient mid-week mileage and time due to the increased coaching responsibilities. Despite this, I went in to the race in November with a "Go Big or Go Home" attitude and averaged 6:45/mi pace through about mile 21. Then it got hard. So, I ran out of gas and shuffled in the finish. But, at least I didn't walk, I didn't have hamstring seizures, and I didn't throw up. I still ended up 3:03:51, just over 7:00/mi pace.

Reaction to WPIALs - While my rookie year of coaching went really well, I also learned a few lessons along the way. Our team was coming off of two consecutive district titles. At the district meet, we came up 5 points short of winning #3 in a row. While I'm normally a "glass half full" kind of guy, I felt like I let the team down and let the program down by not continuing the tradition. I was a little mopey instead of focusing on the fact that we were the 2nd best team in all of our district. It's definitely something I will try to do better next year. The silver lining is that, despite of me, the girls used the 2nd place as motivation and finished 5th in the state the next week. Did I mention that they're a great group of girls?

So, as can be seen, the lows were somewhat minor and the highs were most certainly amazing. Another great year in the books. I am very blessed and most definitely living the dream! Here's to 2015!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 BCS Playoff Proposal

Now that the arrangements are set for this year's national championship game, here is my view on how a playoff system could be implemented to include the conference championship games.

Here are my goals:

1. To give EVERY team in August a legitimate chance to win a national championship (like UCF, Northern Illinois, Fresno State, etc.), especially if you win your conference championship.

2. To make as many teams as possible have their last game be one of significance toward a national championship drive.

You can go to previous years proposals below:

So on to this year. There were more changes in the college landscape from 2012 as the Big East and the Western Athletic Conference became no more. But, the American Athletic Conference came into being. The AAC received the automatic BCS berth from the Big East. Also, there is more on the horizon with the Big Ten adding Rutgers and Maryland next year, as well as other moves. But, we'll save that for next year.

This is the final product:

Some general notes:
*All seeds determined by the BCS for at-large teams, by computer rankings for conference champions not in the top 25 BCS rankings)
*The regular season needs to be completed for BCS conferences by the weekend before Thanksgiving (11/23) and the week prior to that for the non-BCS conferences (11/16) OR the non-BCS conference can decide to not host a championship game the weekend of the 23rd.
*Don't get completely tied up in the teams, but more the process and the seeds. Since this bracket is trying to seed based off of three different weeks all at the same time, there are going to be inconsistencies in team rankings. Trust the process!
*This is NOT an NCAA basketball bracket where you could have a tourney pick'em. Rather each round gets re-seeded much like the NFL and other leagues do.

Here's how I ended up with that bracket:

Original Draft (Building on the 2012 model)
Last year's model had seven at-large teams in addition to the eleven conference champions. Since there is one less conference this year, the structure needed to be revised. On the surface, one less non-BCS qualifier conference yielded the simple math of one more at-large team.

The four conference champions would host at-large teams on Thanksgiving weekend with an additional two at-large games to be played either at a neutral site (what I would prefer) or the site of the higher-seeded team. There were some different ways to work out the matchups, but I thought that the highest-seeded non-BCS conference champion (Northern Illinois) deserved a favorable matchup. Beyond that, the highest seeded at-large team should have the easiest opponent. Thus, the games ended up like so:

UCLA (AL8) at Northern Illinois (MAC)- A
Baylor (AL3) at Fresno State (MWC) - B
South Carolina (AL2) at Rice (CUSA)- C
Alabama (AL1) at Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt) - D
Oregon (AL4) vs. Oklahoma (AL7)
Clemson (AL5) vs LSU (AL6)

The winners would move on to the weekend of the four BCS Conference Championship games. Additionally, Oklahoma State (as of the time of this draft) from the Big 12 and Central Florida (from the AAC) get byes to the conference championship weekend due to their BCS tie-in. If seeds held from Thanksgiving weekend, the games would make for a fun Saturday of 8 games (note that conference champions still get home games):

ACC Championship - Florida State vs Duke
Pac-12 Championship - Stanford vs Arizona State
SEC Championship - Auburn vs Missouri
Big Ten Championship - Ohio State vs Michigan State
Alabama (AL1) at UCF (AAC Champion) (Highest seed vs lowest seed remaining)
South Carolina (AL2) at Northern Illinois (MAC Champion)
Clemson (AL5) at Oklahoma State (Big 12 Champion)
Baylor (AL3) vs Oregon (AL4)

Winners from this round would match up in a final 8 the weekend of December 14. Games to be played at the higher-ranked conference champion (again rewarding a conference champion over an at-large team). If seeds held:

Baylor (AL3) at Florida State (ACC Champion)
Alabama (AL1) at Oklahoma State (Big 12 Champion)
Stanford (Pac-12 Champion) at Auburn (SEC Champion)
South Carolina (AL2) at Ohio State (Big Ten Champion)

Then, like is proposed for starting in 2014, a semi-final would occur around New Year's Day with the Championship the next week.

Version 2.0 (Only conference champions, quicker path to the championship)
I was pretty happy with the first bracket, but then Auburn beat Alabama, Ohio State lost, Oklahoma State lost, Northern Illinois lost and my bracket looked pretty inaccurate (although it's the process that counts!). It also wasn't sitting well with me that a #3 (Auburn) vs #5 (Missouri) was occurring in the round of 16. Could the winner of that game be given a bye to the semi-finals? Also, could the number 1 seed be advanced to the semi-finals? These thoughts gave birth to version 2 of the 2013 bracket.

Here's what it looked like BEFORE the results of conference championship weekend

And then AFTER the results of the weekend (Ohio State, Northern Illinois, and Oklahoma State losing)

In this model, the four non-BCS conference champs square off the weekend of Thanksgiving. The winner of these games would be inserted into the BCS conference championship weekend to play the champion of the Big 12 and the AAC. Once the results from conference championship weekend were completed and the new polls came out, the top two teams would get byes to the semi-finals. One thought in my head for this year was, if Ohio State won, who would get the second bye? That's a HUGE difference between having off and playing a very difficult game. Maybe some language to the effect of "if two top-8 BCS ranked teams are playing in a conference championship, that winner gets and automatic bid to the semi-finals. The remaining four teams would match up the weekend of December 14 to determine the other two teams to advance to the New Year's semi-final.

Version 3 (A hybrid of versions 1 and 2)
The idea of Alabama not being in the top 4 (or at the very least top 8) just didn't seem fair. So, this version bumped back the Big 12 and AAC  conference champions to have to play in the Thanksgiving weekend round. The matchups for that round's four games would be set up to be the highest conference champion vs the second highest versus the second lowest. Then the first at-large team would get the third lowest conference champion and AL2 vs the 3rd conference champion.

BEFORE Conference Championship Saturday results, it looked like this:

AFTER the results, it looked like this.

*The Tide - Alabama lost one regular season game on an amazing and strange play to end a game that would have otherwise gone to overtime. It seems like they needed a shot. Having a second at-large team gives some incentive to teams to keep playing hard even if they do lose a game. How about an Alabama-Auburn rematch in the semi-finals?
*On the road - A few years ago, Fresno State had the motto "Anybody, Anytime, Anywhere." It would be fitting for them to earn a home game against a big school like Alabama or South Carolina. Also, having warm weather teams leave that comfort and play a meaningful December game in the snow intrigues me.
*Bowling? - Bowls could still happen. Bowl announcements were made this year on December 8. In the final bracket, only six teams are left after December 8...and four of those are ticketed into the semi-finals. Perhaps the two losers of the December 14 games could be matched up on a New Year's Day Bowl. Would that be enough time?
*Meaningfulness - I mentioned this last year also, but a team like Bowling Green would much rather have a chance to host South Carolina in a playoff than lowly 6-6 Pitt in the Little Caesar's Bowl in Detroit. Fresno State - vs USC in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on December 21 or a chance to take on the team that most people still think is the best in the country on their turf. Michigan State's national championship hopes ended  September 21st with a loss to Notre Dame (with four pass interference penalties). Winning the Big Ten Championship gets them a Rose Bowl date, but no shot at a national championship. Baylor and UCF play each other in the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl for bragging rights, but no ability claim stake to the #1 trophy.

Will it happen? Maybe some day. Next year brings the four-team playoff, but that's just going to cause a bunch of debate over who's #4 and who's #5 or #6. A bracket based on conference championships for ALL conferences is the best way to eliminate opinion and debate as much as possible.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wrapping Up Summer: Part 4

This summer, I moved to a new room in the school with our renovated high school.

I started playing the acoustic guitar. I've got a long way to go.

Cross Country season is underway. The girls are the defending district champs and hope to be among the top teams in the state again. The boys graduated five contributing seniors, but have a solid group that should be able to fill in those gaps and have us contending for a district title.

More details to come!

Wrapping Up Summer Part 3: The Pirates

It is August 25th and the Pirates are tied for first place. Sign me up for that!

It's been an amazing summer and lots of dissecting to do over the next five weeks!

Wrapping Up Summer Part 2: The Book Reports

Usually the only place I can sit myself down to read is when I'm on an airplane. I love to read, but I can never force myself to sit down and do it when there's other things to do like go running, watch a Pirate game, or pretty much anything else.

However, I was introduced to using mobile devices for audio books (and for reading books too!), specifically through the program Overdrive that is connected to our county library system. Because of this, I was able to get through SIX books this summer:

The Beauty of Short Hops by Sheldon Hirsch

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Dream Team by Jack McCallum

Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile

Reviews to come hopefully in the next day or two...

Wrapping Up Summer

So much goings on since the Muncie trip. I figured I'd break it down into four segments:

*Summer Book Report
*Other stuff

Part 1 - Racing (subtitle: There must have been something in the water in Muncie)

So, Beth had an awesome race in Muncie, establishing some PR's along the way. Since then, both of us have had some solid success. Beth set some more PR's at Steelhead. Along the way, I had some pretty awesome races.

On 7/20, I did the Plum Stampede in the Park at Boyce Park. While I hadn't really done much speed training, I was excited to end up with a 17:27 on a rolling course and scored 7th overall and 1st in my age group. One of the highlights of this race was being able to hang out with good friend and mentor when I was student teaching at Plum Jay Marston. Back then, I was a volunteer assistant coach to him on the girls softball team. Now, we are both involved with coaching running and he has run several marathons with the hope of qualifying for Boston.

That was a good warm up and then the next weekend (7/28) I did the hometown Junkyard Jaunt (only 1.2 miles from my front door!). Two years ago I did this race with the hope of going sub-17 (pancake flat course) but I went out too hard and it was hot and I ended up at 17:21 and 4th place with some speedy guys. This year, there was only one other speedy guy and he and I went out at the beginning. I got a little bit of a lead on him and was able to extend it and hold on for the win and a new PR of 16:48.

The next weekend (8/4) we were in Michigan for Beth's 5th place finish. The following Friday 8/9, I stepped to the line in downtown Pittsburgh for the Liberty Mile. I went into it thinking I could be around 5:00. The previous four weeks I was working on repeats (400's in the 70-75 range and 800's in the 2:27-2:30 range), so I went to the line confident in my training. 

Beth was out there cheering at the 1/4 mile mark and the 3/4 mile mark. I'm glad there was a crowd around me and I didn't see the 1/4 mile split clock because the 67 might have put some doubts in my head about being able to finish the race. I went through the half and did see the 2:21 on the clock and was excited to think that if I could hang on for a 2:35-2:40 for the second half I would have my sub-5. As we turned on to Liberty Avenue and headed for home, the guy in front of me slowed down a lot (hit the wall?) so I had to swing around him. I don't know if this other guy didn't like that or if I was just in his "line" and he brushed beside me hitting my arm. I thought, "We've got this whole street on a straightaway to the finish and you have to be this close to me?" Regardless, I focused on the task and hand. I missed the 3/4 clock but Beth said it was a 3:42. I then sighted the finish line and tried to do my best kick in. I couldn't feel my legs, but I ended up around a 71 for the finial 1/4 for a total time of 4:53.9. Awesome!
Look - I'm floating 3/4 mile into the race! Excited to say I outkicked all of these guys in the end (but couldn't feel my legs)

Then, last weekend, I subjected myself to the trail running course known as the Hempfield Alumni Meet. I didn't do it last year because we were out of town. The year before I got third place to an alumni who was a D2 Steeplechaser at CalU and a varsity kid who qualified for the state meet. This year, that high schooler graduated (and no one else on the high school team had a strong year last year) and the Steeplechaser had gotten married and bought a house over the summer (perhaps not as much time for training?). We got out and had a rabbit as a Norwin alum had come with a friend and, while he was not eligible for our alumni results, he won the race by a good minute or so. That left me and Eric leading the rest. At one switchback, I noticed that we had the top 3 (and actually top 4) so if things stayed as they were, the alumni would score their first dual meet victory over the varsity in 9 years.

That left the individual race the only thing left to worry about. Eric and I were running together, but I sensed he didn't want to push the pace up a hill as we were returning through the practice football field (about halfway) and I decided to go for it. I ran the rest of the race scared for this younger alum (by 10 years!) was going to catch me and blow by. But, I ended up winning by 50 seconds. The neat thing is that the winner of this alumni-varsity meet gets their name etched onto a plate that goes with the Stanley Cup-like trophy (you keep it for the year and bring it back the next year). So, while I am nowhere near the caliber of any other name on the plate of district and state champs that went on to successful division 1 careers, this year just happened to be the year where everything fell into place for me. It was mentioned that I was the "oldest first-time winner" of this race. I don't know if that is a compliment or a shot at my age. Either way, it was exciting to be the champ!
Ah, the coveted #1 stick!

Me and the trophies. Beth couldn't wait to find a spot for this to collect dust for the next 12 months!!!

Me and dad after the race

The trophies

So, back to my original theory, all of this occurred since Beth and I were in Muncie. Beth's PRs. My 2 wins, and 5k & mile PR.

My theory is that there must have been something in the water in Muncie (I did see Beth bottling some, I think!). In other words, look out Ironman Wisconsin for Beth to come flying through!