Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Route 66 Marathon - 29th Marathon and 19th State

Tulsa seemed like a forced marathon, an effort to get in another state before the end of the year.  Laura had planned to join me but was accepted to go on a sponsored trip to Berlin the previous week and with upcoming Thanksgiving travel, sat this one out.  I missed her on the trip but was glad to have friends in Tulsa.  My high school friend Nicole went to college and never left so I got to spend time with her, her husband Bryce, and their daughter.  She ran the half marathon and was part of her company's marathon team.  I also met up with Derek, a friend I met running in Idaho.  He lives in Houston, but is from Tulsa, so coming back to run the half was a good option for him.  He had just returned from India on business.

The weekend started Friday night when Derek picked me up in the airport.  My flight to Midway and the connecting flight were uneventful.  We went to the hotel bar for dinner and he got a beer.  It was nice to catch up.  The following morning, it was raining, so I skipped my two mile shakeout run.  I went to a small bakery for breakfast before picking up my packet.  Back in my hotel room, I spoke with a fellow classmate at JHU who is defending her thesis sometime in December about tips for the defense.  Then, I joined Nicole and her family for lunch.  Nicole and I took a quick trip to the supermarket so I could get breakfast and pick up a few things.  She brought my by Oral Roberts University.

I am not sure what these hands are doing at Oral Roberts University.

After resting, I went with Derek and his wife to dinner.  It was nice to talk running and catch up.  In the morning, I got ready and he joined me in my room since it was right next to the starting line.  We warmed up and were ready for the race.  Since the weather was warm in the 60s and it was a bit humid from previous days' rain, I made the decision to try to hold a 7 minute mile.  That turned out to be a good decision, and I even dialed that number back by a few seconds, especially as I encountered the rolling hills and strong head wind.  The route wasn't too scenic, so I was in my head most of the time.  Since I'm learning trope to recite the Haftarah at my aufruf prior to my wedding, I was going over the sounds in my head.  It helped, especially in the later miles when I was just trying to hold on to a decent pace.  I finished in 3:14 and while it wasn't my fastest marathon, it could be my smartest and best tactical marathon to date.

Splits: 6:48/7:06/08/15/18/6:56/7:12/14/01/09/06/21/12/20/28/14/37/34/28/32/32/ 8:10/17/7:52/8:18/7:37/1:57 (.29) 10K - 44:03 10M - 1:11:12 - Half 1:33:41 - 20M 2:25:15 Overall 39/1682 Division Place 2 Gender Place 37/929

I was pleased to discover that I had won second place in my age group and will get an award in the mail.  After the race, I showered and walked to an Irish pub to meet Nicole and Bryce.  I was able to catch the Patriots game and a beer and enjoy some good food and brews and celebrate our accomplishments.

Nicole and I celebrate our victories and enjoy a sampling of good beer.

After, I walked back to check out of the hotel and passed Arnie's bar.  I still miss my late mentor.

Nicole dropped me at the airport and I flew home.  Overall, I'm glad I went to Tulsa and ran in a new state, Oklahoma.  Now, it's Snowball Series races for DC Road Runners Club and two bachelor parties and two weddings before the next marathon - likely New Jersey.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Ferris Bueller Tour of Chicago

Ferris Bueller had his day off, and I had a weekend to recreate it. Encouraged by my father who loves the movie, and inspired by this website, I spent my first day in Chicago trying to visit many of the sights he visited.  I had the day to myself because Laura flew in after work.  After leaving my bag at the hotel, I went to pick up my packet and meet my high school friend, Tuere Wiggins, for lunch.  We had some deep dish pizza near the convention center before I embarked on my route.  First, I hit the Art Institute and took a picture of Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

My father's favorite painting

After the museum, I went to Sears Tower - excuse me - Willis Tower.  While I tried to ascend, I was informed it was over and hour and $20.  One or the other, but not both, so I went on to Wrigley Field.

No October baseball in Wrigleyville

That night, I went to an Italian restaurant for some gnocchi, and read, watched baseball, and went to bed.  Well, Laura arrived a bit late, so I woke when she arrived.  Saturday morning, I went to Solider Field for the shakeout run hosted by Bart Yasso and Deena Kastor.  But, it was so crowded and I needed to get home that I left the run and headed back to the L.

Selfie with Yasso and Kastor

We got brunch with Laura's friend, Emily, and then I went to bath in my hotel room and rest.  For the pasta dinner, we went to Maggiano's and met Alex and Britt.  Then it was a good night's rest and up at 4AM for the 7:30 start.  I met Alex and we took a cab to the start.  I tweaked my right calf walking around on my sandals, but that didn't bother me during the race.  It crept up at mile 10, but I know it didn't hurt my time.  After waiting for the race to begin, we ran into Dan Burns who trained with us for DCRRC and ran with our team along with Joe Kane and Hirsh Kravitz.  We warmed up and then tried to get to the start, but they wouldn't let us both into corral A because I accidentally got placed in B.  I snuck into A, but I couldn't find Alex so we ran separately.

After the race, I waited for Alex who was tended to for cramping.  I met Britt, we left, went to the hotel room to shower, and went to Giordano's for deep dish pizza where Laura met us.  After stuffing our faces with beer and the stuffed pizza, Laura and I went on a boat tour of the river to see the architecture.  Then we walked around to Millennial Park, walked to John Hancock and got a drink at the top in the lounge (way too long a wait to go up and then to get seated), and then got sushi near our hotel.  We left for DC early in the morning.

Sears/Willis Tower in the background while on the river cruise

Random Race Memories:

I really thought I was going to go sub 3 today. I knew early on that I was nailing the miles even though my GPS was erratic due to the skyscrapers so I trusted it to even out which it did. Was going to run with Alex but we were separated at the start due to being placed in different corrals. It really was a flat and fast course.

My splits:

6:47/34/7:05/6:41/45/47/44/46/48/49/46/44/36/47/50/51/54/7:01/08/16/39/48 /55/53/36/30/ 3:00 (.44) - 21:09 5K; 21:10 10K; 21:07 15K; 21:25 20K; 21:12 25K; 21:47 30K; 23:34 35K; 24:25 40K; 10:09 to finish 3:05:58 finish 1st half = 1:29:21 2nd half = 1:36:37; 1488 OA, 231 AG, 1304 M

Our race team of Joe Kane, Alex Albertini, Dan Burns, and Hirsh Kravitz and me placed fifth in our category.

Just a few miles to go!

Vancouver not BC, Washington not DC

This race fooled me.  I really thought I was playing it smart by trying to hold a 7 minute pace and just glide in around 3:05, or at least under 3:08 where I thought the cut off line for Boston 2015 would be.  It was a cloudy day with some drizzle at the start, but I quickly regretted bringing a hat to keep the water out of my eyes as the rain stopped and I ended up ditching the hat in the second mile rather than lugging it around.  The first half of the marathon was very flat and on a highway and boring, but I was able to hold my pace.  The second half had a few hills and a monster hill around the "Wall" that stole time on the way up and crippled my thighs on the way down.  The weather was deceivingly humid - I thought the weather in June was going to be fine, and it mostly was except for the humidity.

I also probably walked way too much the previous day.  We stayed with my friend Howie and his
wife, Helen, in Portland, and walked around touring the city. For future marathons, it is important that I really rest the prior day. The point of the trip was to have a vacation and get me another state.  We did have a good trip as we took in Portland (visited Voodoo Donuts, a brewery, some bookstore) and we also drove to Seattle (took in the original Starbucks and saw the flagship Nordstrom's, watched a Mariners game, walked the city, went to the huge market, ran along the shore, took a ferry to Bainbridge Island, went up the Space Needle).

Random Race Memories:

Ran with Ryan Hagen from Kirkland, WA - his first marathon; not much to see as on highway then neighborhoods and industrial area; really strong finish and Bart Yasso announced my finish and tweeted at me later; passed a limping woman in the last half mile and tried to get her to finish which she did; got a massage and walked around Portland all afternoon and didn't feel so sore - in fact could probably have run a mile or two.

My splits:

6:58/59/7:02/03/02/00/00/03/00/6:56/7:01/04/08/21/23/21/13/21/44/8:43/7:15/45/8:14/14/35/09/55 seconds last .15 - 12/58 AG 47/757 OA
Bart Yasso greets me at the finish with a high five!

Boston recap

While I am tardy in posting my results from 2014 Boston, it's probably because I am not very pleased with my effort.  I had a great training season and set personal bests in a few race distances - most notably the half marathon (Rock N Roll Half - 1:25:47) and Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (63:11).  The cost of these PRs was that I was overtrained, suffered a bad taper, and didn't carb load properly (more on this later).

I had a pretty good training cycle, but by going all out for a half four weeks prior and a ten miler two weeks prior to Boston, it left me exhausted for the race.  Sometimes I think that I am superman.  I also suffered by not properly getting a good carb load since the race occurred during Passover.  I was interviewed by Washington Jewish Week about how I balanced observing Passover with training for Boston.

Finishing the 2014 Boston Marathon in under 3:30

Sara and Lisa greet me on Heartbreak Hill

Random Race Memories:

I knew early on around the tenth mile it wasn't going to be my day, but I was surprised at how tired I was - definitely poor taper. Amanda Hicks passed me and I cheered her to finish strong; took a picture with Lisa McAvoy and Sara on Hearthbreak Hill again; ran with Arnie - boy did he not aid me! Happy to finish. Bad carbo loading with maztah, quinoa, and potatoes - I do rely on pasta, but glad I kept Passover.

My splits:

21:51; 43:33; 1:05:32; 1:29:48; 1:35:00; 1:54:55; 2:21:42; 2:49:37; 3:17:49 (5K splits) Overall 9029

Yet, there is no such thing as a "Bad Boston Marathon." I'm reminded of this as my 3:09:27 wasn't good enough for entry into Boston 2015, 29 seconds short of the cut off line. I will have to wait until 2016 to try to run Boston as well as I know I can.

Full text of article:

In Boston, a celebration of running

After running a little more than three hours, Kenny Ames crossed the finish line at Monday’s Boston Marathon and began eating from his box of Passover Tam Tams.
Ames wouldn’t have minded celebrating with a beer, but due to the holiday, he went with “the little crackers for Passover that are so awesome.”
The 118th Boston Marathon was the third for this D.C. resident. He finished, but didn’t meet his goal of running the 26.2 mile course in under three hours.
“I do think Passover affected me this time. I was not able to carbo load,” Ames, 36, said, referring to his normal heapings of pasta before a race. Instead, he digested lots of potatoes, apples, bananas and yogurt.
“I definitely felt tired earlier than I normally do,” he added, “To me, it’s more important to observe the holiday than to run a marathon.”
For Jewish Washington-area runners at the marathon, Passover was just another hurdle to cross. A year after the bombing that killed three and wounded more than 250, Ames and others saw a city that boasted extra security and heightened pride.
Ames’ parents waited for him at the finish line, just as they had last year.
Fortunately, in 2013 he finished the race about 85 minutes before the bombs went off “so we were long out of the city.” While he didn’t witness any of the devastation, the human toll still weighed on his mind.
“This is so much attached to it. I’m going to have to keep my emotions intact,” he said several days before Monday’s race. The Brookland resident generally runs 50 to 60 miles a week.
There was more security this time. Because runners weren’t allowed to leave bags around, the warm-up jacket and pants that he wore when he first got to the athletes’ village about three hours before race time had to be thrown away, he said.
Warren Margolies of Bethesda also noticed the increased security. ”They were really adamant that you had to show your bib number” when walking around the athletes’ village, he said. He also noticed “snipers on the roof of the middle school.”
Margolies, 33, also saw “a heightened sense of pride in the city. You saw so many Boston Pride shirts.” He called the 2014 Boston Marathon, his second one, “a celebration of running.” The real estate attorney, who has now run five marathons, said Monday’s race was “very special. It seemed like the right thing to do after last year. I feel honored to be there.”
He also was pleased with his time of two hours, 50 minutes and 31 seconds, noting, “I did well.”
Margolies usually runs 45 minutes to an hour every day. “I just clear my head. I can think things through,” he said. Running gives him “inner peace, peace of mind. It gives sort of order and discipline to my life.”
Scott Zoback also was among the marathon’s 35,671 entrants. The 31-year-old had two strong reasons to run in this year’s race. He joined a team supporting Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where his father was a patient for four years before he passed away in 2007.
But Zoback, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), also wanted to return to Boston after witnessing the bombing as a spectator at last year’s race. “I was diagonally across the street from the second bomb,” he said.
When the first bomb exploded, he and his friends weren’t sure what happened. “But when the second one went off, we knew this was purposeful. People started running, trampling,” he recalled. Despite that, Zoback said he had “zero” concerns about security while running through the streets of Boston on Monday.
“The deeds of a couple aren’t going to change how we as a state feel,” the Worcester, Mass., native declared. He was proud of how the crowd “was urging you on at every point. The way Massachusetts came out for this race, it was definitely emotional out there.”
He’s glad he ran, although he said the heat took a toll on his time. So did Passover. “I have never eaten more potatoes in a week than I did” prior to the race, he said. Zoback was happy this year to be able to eat the grain quinoa, which is new to the Passover menu.
Two family seders also created a challenge to his training schedule. However, “There are always hurdles to overcome,” he said. “A little family Seder isn’t going to get in the way of six months of training.”
All his emotions and training culminated in having a medal placed around his neck. “There is no feeling like it in the world,” he said.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ready for Boston!

I haven't been able to write as much as I would have liked because I have been finishing up my master's thesis.  I turned it in on April 2 and now I wait for comments from my reviewers; the defense is likely May 5.  It's title Social Media #FTW!: The Influence of Social Media on American Politics.  Message me if you would like to read it.

This week, I'm preparing to run the Boston Marathon.  It's an exciting day as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes the day as a holiday and the Red Sox have their 11:05 AM start of a game.  I'm optimistic that it can be my fastest Boston to date based on some solid winter training and two recent personal bests in other distances.  I have raced well lately, in my opinion.  In March, five weeks before Boston, I ran the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon in DC in 1:25:47 - 15 seconds better than my previous PR.  The course was hilly so I think I had a faster time in me on a flatter course.  In early April, two weeks before Boston, I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in 63:11, blowing away my previous PR of 64:00 (on a course that was likely short).  I also had a good race at the Club Challenge, which is a notoriously difficult course with lots of challenging and long hills.

I didn't work with my coach this winter since I had too much on my plate (see thesis) so I trained myself.  Since it was a snowy winter, I relied on hill repeats instead of track which was likely icy.  The good part about hill repeats is that if there is a little ice or snow, you can still finish the workout.  I would run a longer warm up, like 6 miles, then do the hill repeats to practice for the hills of Boston that hit between miles 19-21.  I also did a long run of 16 miles around 7:30 miles then the following day raced a 10K so that I would practice racing while tired - again, preparing for the final miles of Boston.    In the two weekends between the half marathon and Cherry Blossom, I ran 22 miles as my long run and 21 miles the following weekend, each averaging a bit faster than 7:30 pace.  Physically, I am ready for this race.

Mentally, I think I am ready as well.  I have a lot on my mind.  Last year's Boston Marathon still echoes in my thoughts.  I truthfully have no idea how I will feel; my family and I were out of the city by the time the bombing occurred.  I know it will be emotional.  The recent passing of my mentor, Arnie Thomas, is weighing on my mind.  Last year, I ran in memory of two of my uncles that passed away in 2012.  I'm sick of running this race in memory of people I care about deeply - please let's not have anymore losses, okay?

I will try to use all this motivation in a goal of doing my best.  My A goal for the day is sub 3 hours; my B goal is sub 3:04 (which would be a PR); my C goal is sub 3:08 (to qualify for next year); and finally, if all else fails, I want to beat my time from last year of 3:19.  I have read and re-read the Sports Guy's article on the Boston Marathon, which I enjoy reading each year.  I'm looking forward to seeing my family.  I have been tapering while observing Passover, and it should be interesting to carbo-load without eating pasta or bread (I'm relying on potatoes, bananas, apples, and yogurt).

The 2014 Boston Marathon is only days away - I can't wait!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Favorite Running Quotes

This is a list of my favorite running quotes I have collected over the years.  When I need a boost, I click through to remind myself why I love running.

"Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult,challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best." - Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Olympic marathoner

"The marathon has so many elements to prepare for. I think that is one reason I always want to come back for more. There is always something to change in your preparation and I am still trying to discover what I am capable of.  I guess I just love the challenge." - Dathan Ritzenhein

"Success does not come to the most righteous and rigorously disciplined but to those who continue running." - Amby Burfoot

"Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there's no reason to fear starting lines...or other new beginnings." - 
Amby Burfoot 

"Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn't even know we had, and we carry on; we finish the race." - President Barack Obama at the Boston Marathon memorial service on April 18, 2013

"Winning is not about headlines and hardware [medals]. It's only about attitude. A winner is a person who goes out today and every day and attempts to be the best runner and best person he can be. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up." Amby Burfoot, Editor-at-Large, Runner's World and 1968 Boston Marathon Winner

"Success isn't how far you go, but the distance you traveled from where you started." - Steve Prefontaine

"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race; it's to test the limits of the human heart." –Bill Bowerman

“I also realize that winning doesn't always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.” - Meb Keflezighi

"Anybody can be a runner. We were meant to move. We were meant to run. It's the easiest sport." - Bill Rodgers

"You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. We were born to run; we were born because we run." - Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

"Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did." - Nelson Mandela

"Running unites us and brings us together... For it isone of the few commonalities left between us as a human race. Toeing the starting line of a marathon, regardless of the language you speak, the God you worship or the color of your skin, we all stand as equal. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people ran." Dean Karnazes

"Running is a big question mark that's there each andevery day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" - Peter Maher

"Either you run the day or the day runs you."  - Jim Rohn

"Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough." -Hal Higdon

"What I've learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you're hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner." - Sir James Dyson, Inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner

"To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept pain - not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it." Dr. George Sheehan

"A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you've done it you feel that you can do anything." - Anonymous

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrificethe Gift." - Steve Prefontaine

"Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down."  New Balance Ad

“If I were to be remembered for anything at all, I would want that to be that I am/was authentic. No Mas. Run Free!” - Micah True, American ultra runner

"We all know that if you run, you are pretty much choosing a life of success because of it." - Deena Kastor

"Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." - Henry David Thoreau

"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is." - Kara Goucher

"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don'thave races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up." Amby Burfoot

"When you run in the morning, you gain time in a sense. It's like stretching 24 hours into 25. You may need to sleep less and get up earlier, but if you can get by that, running early seems to expand theday." - Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon

"There's no magic to running far or climbing Everest. Endurance is mental strength. It's all about heart." - Bear Grylls, Host of Man vs. Wild

“If you can find meaning in the type of running you need todo to stay on this team, chances are you can find meaning in another absurd pastime: Life.” - Robert Towne, screenplay for Pre

"You feel good while you're running and you feel even better when you're finished." - Fred Lebow

"The expression 'misery loves company' is meant for winter running. As I'm lying in bed on dark, cold mornings, it's a lot harder to talk myself out of getting up when I know I'm accountable to other people." - Jason Lehmkuhle, of Team USA Minnesota, runner-up at 2008 U.S. Half-Marathon Championships

"Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time." Michael Sargent

"Never make a decision on a hill."

"Pain is temporary, pride is forever"

"Run into peace." - Meister Eckhart, 14th-Century Philosopher

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people." -Bill Bowerman

"The distance race is a struggle that results inself-discovery. It is an adventure involving the limits of the self." Paul Weiss

"Running, one might say, is basically an absurd pastime upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the type of running you need to do ... chances are you'll be able to find meaning in that other absurd pastime - LIFE." - Bill Bowerman

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” - Sarah Condor

"There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going." -Steve Jobs

“Running is a statement to society. It is saying 'no' to always being on call, to sacrificing our daily runs for others' needs. When we run we are doing something for ourselves.” Phoebe Jones, runner

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” - George Sheehan

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just anathletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anythingis possible." - John Hanc, running writer

"It's the one thing that's mine. My runs everyday aremy thing. It's my therapy, my hour to myself. Nobody can really take it away from me... It's such a huge part of me. I love to say that I'm a runner."- Summer Sanders, Olympic gold-medalist

"There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul." - Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers blog at Runner's World

“When you run, you log on to yourself. You flip through thepages of your being.” - Kevin Nelson, The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration

"Training for a marathon started out as a life-list thing, and it turned into a lifestyle." - Mike Post

"Running along our journey doesn't only teach us how to keep moving forward through what life throws at us, it also makes us into the best version of ourselves." - Ashley Erickson, freelance fitness writer/editor

"Running is the greatest sport. Your competitors push you to run better, stronger, and faster; and you can only fail by quitting." Kenny Ames 2-6-12

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One more state to finish 2013

The Rocket City Marathon was my 25th total marathon, and Alabama was my 16th different state.  The course wasn't remarkable as it mostly darted through neighborhoods and along highways.  In fact, next year they are using a completely new course that actually goes by some of the attractions.  And, this year it rained a lot before the race and on and off during the race.  Plus, I was coming down with a cold so it turned out that my accomplishment would be simply to add another state.  It is still amazing to think back that I ran my first marathon in 2004 and have run 25 total.  It wasn't until my 16th that I even heard about the 50 State Club to strive to finish.  And that is what brought me to Alabama on a rainy day in December.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express because it was the official hotel, hosted the packet pick-up, pasta dinner, and after party - plus the race started steps from the entrance.  However, after over 20 years as the race host hotel, it is closing.  We found that fact out weeks before the race leaving us no real alternatives.  Had we known they were tearing down the hotel for a reason (i.e. it was awful), we'd have booked a room across the street at the Embassy Suites.  But, a weekend without hot water and the usual amenities you expect from a hotel isn't too bad.

The course itself wasn't especially inspiring.  It started just outside the host hotel and all I really remember are the many neighborhoods and a long stretch of highway that was a wall of wind.  That headwind was positioned right at the halfway point, and until then, I was on pace for 3:03-05.  What I really couldn't believe was how I was still running equal effort, but my pace slowed by 15-30 seconds a mile.  I tried to hold on, but at mile 17, when we turned and the wind was no longer bearing down on us, my legs were gone.  At that point, finishing times went through my head as I readjusted my goals.  On the way, I passed a young runner, Ryan Evans, who stood out due to his long blonde dreadlocks.  I tried to inspire him to stay with him down the stretch, using various coaching insights such as asking him what story will he tell tomorrow and that it is only a few more miles.  He stayed with me for a bit, swapping leads as he'd slow to walk then run and pass me and walk some more.  He finally ditched me with 2-3 miles to go at a water stop.  Later, I checked him times and he struggled in around 3:30.  I held it together as best I could and put in a solid final mile to finish in 3:16:26 - my sixth fastest marathon.  I was 92nd out of over 1300 finishers and 11th in my age group 35-39.  It wasn't a Boston qualifier, but considering the obstacles, I'm pleased with the result.

After the race, Laura and I went to the NASA Rocket Center and toured.  It was neat to see where they have Space Camp and go through the history of our space program.  I even broke down and bought souvenirs for my niece and nephew.  For dinner, we went to a brew pub in town and enjoyed a sampling of beers.  Laura wasn't feeling well, so I went to the post race party solo.  I met some runners from Pennsylvania who happened to be hanging out with Bart Yasso, so I joined them.  It turns out they are his neighbors - not a bad neighbor to have!  It was a very cool experience to hear the stories first hand.  I even managed to connect him with a friend starting a Lyme Disease foundation.

At the airport, Ryan's dad found me and thanked me for helping his son.  They are from Minnesota and were headed home, obviously.  While my marathon wasn't what I hoped, it was very meaningful to be thanked for doing what comes naturally - trying to help a fellow runner.  That's one of the things I love so much about running - we may be competing with each other, but we compete in a way that helps us run faster and reach goals we couldn't alone.

I am still planning my 2014 race calendar.  Boston is on the schedule, and I am considering adding Washington State with the Vancouver USA Marathon.  I'm open to suggestions for the fall.  2013 was an amazing year for running - highlighted with the Boston Marathon and all that transpired - here's to an even better 2014!

Bart Yasso as the guest speaker at the pasta dinner.  They also had a runner's fashion show as local runners walked the runway in the latest sports apparel.

Ready to run Rocket City!

Maybe going on the Mars shuttle ride wasn't smart.  Milk was a bad idea!  (Kidding - I didn't hurl)

Very cool!

Laura where they faked the moon landing (again, kidding!).

Playing around in the command service module.

Posing at the NASA Rocket Center.

Laura enjoying herself.

We sampled the beer on tap at the brew pub.

At the race party with my new running friend, Ryan.

Just hanging out with Bar Yasso and friends - no big deal.