Gasp! I went to the doctor

I've taken pride in not having to see a doctor because I'm sick. When I have fallen ill, I've always managed to have it go away with a day or two. But this week has been different. I just wasn't getting better, despite never having a fever. So yesterday after I work, I dragged myself to the doctor's office. With my head clogged worse than a stopped up drain and my chest actually being fairly clear, it seemed I had the doctor perplexed as to what to give me.

So he gave me an antibiotic and a decongestant that he described as three times as strong as Sudafed. And sure enough, a few hours later my nose was clearing itself out like Niagara Falls. So instead of getting a medicated sleep like the previous few nights, I was up every hour blowing my nose. But today I have felt better despite being tired. I sure don't feel like getting out there and running for at least another day, but the end of this mess is in sight. I think this is my first time since my freshman year in college 11 years ago that I've been on a prescription.

It's been an interesting way of ending November. This was the month that my ultimate running goal came true with the marathon. My post-marathon mileage hasn't been as much as I was hoping and this week's big ZERO certainly doesn't help my pursuit of 1,000 miles. At the same time, I know this week has made sure I'm fully recovered from my 26.2 mile journey. My monthly mileage was 56.3, my lowest since April when I had just over 50 miles. April, oddly enough, was the last time being sick really impacted my running. April was when I started this blog and a few days later woke up with a fever of 101 and missed a 5k I had signed up for. I was sick in September too, but I think life got in the way more than a sickness for a few days.
My yearly total is stuck at 935.1. I'm probably about 15 miles or so short of where I'd like to be to make hitting 1,000 miles easier. Running 65 miles in December is achievable, but staying healthy is goal No. 1. I also have a voyage to Ohio planned shortly before Christmas. If I can avoid staying/getting sick and avoid a major snowstorm, 65 miles shouldn't be an issue. It's only an average of a little more than 16 miles a week, and I was hoping in December I'd be at close to 25 miles a week anyway.

At this point, common sense will be the best thing to see me through the end of the year.

Not the way I wanted to hit 0 miles

So, what I thought would be one day off from worked turned into two and now on Wednesday afternoon I've nearly lost my voice, but actually feel much better. Better now than a few weeks ago, right? All plans of running the 5k on Saturday have been put on hold unless I somehow get rid of this chest congestion by then. I'm not giving up hope, yet, but I'm not going to worry about it either. If it happens that's great, if it doesn't, then oh well. My No. 1 running goal this year has been met.

This sickness has brought an unexpected running void into my life this week, but I certainly realize that my overall health is much more important than any other goals I have at this time. While 1,000 miles is certainly in reach, having a successful half marathon in March is more important than running myself into a hospital.

I want to run, but my body has other plans

The body has a unique way of telling you to stop. On Saturday morning, I woke up with a sore throat, but didn't feel bad. I quickly took some medicine, including a powerful throat drop, and felt fine. So in the nice cold morning, I went out for a nice, steady 4 miles. Later that afternoon, I started feeling bad.

So Saturday night, I didn't feel that great, yet I didn't have a fever. Yesterday I did nothing. I slept for a couple of hours in the early afternoon and watched a lot of football. I didn't feel all that bad, but some minor sore throat lingered. Then today, it's the same. There's very little fever, but I don't feel like doing anything but sleeping. I was already planning to take a half day off work for something else, but I've turned it into a full day off. My brain wants to go, but the rest of my body is saying no.

It seems my quest for 1,000 miles has slowed, but the end really is in sight. I'm just not going to run while not feeling well and then ruin my chances. I'm also eager to set some goals for 2008, but like I've said before I'm waiting until I hit 1,000 miles. Also, this weekend I'm hoping to run in the Bedford Christmas Classic 5k. There's also a 10k that day, but it feels too soon after the marathon to run hard for 6-plus miles. Meanwhile, it's time to get some more rest...

If you ran on Thanksgiving, then ate twice as much as usual, this blog's for you.

Am I the only one who is tired of hearing/saying/reading about running so you can eat whatever you want during the holidays? With yesterday being Thanksgiving, and the Festival of All-You-Can-Eat Turkey continuing through the weekend, all I can think about is getting up tomorrow morning and going for my longest run since the marathon. While it'll probably only be four miles or so, it'll help my mind, and it'll help my body get into calorie-burning mode. But I'm getting tired of eating whatever I want to during the holidays and then thinking running makes it OK. I feel fat and bloated and sick just thinking about it.

For those who ran a turkey trot yesterday, that 5k or 10k or whatever distance doesn't give you free reign on a 500-plus calorie piece of pecan pie (please, click on the link) or six slices of ham. But we do it anyway, don't we? Sure, running helps and we're certainly entitled to dive in a little more than some people should, but why do we go so crazy? (If anyone can figure out how to make pecan pie still taste the same at half the calories, please post a link to the recipe.)

I've heard that a local YMCA is doing a campaign of "Maintain, Don't Gain" this holiday season. What a great idea -- instead of packing on a few winter pounds, maybe we should focus on being happy with what we have and focus on not over-indulging. A few extra cookies along the way won't hurt, but an extra piece of pie probably will. Make tomorrow your weigh-in day and challenge yourself to not gain weight between now and Jan. 2. It's likely from all this eating since yesterday that you'll have a few pounds that haven't worked their way out of your body, so that'll make the challenge even easier.

I feel like maybe I should apologize for this mini-rant, but after losing 40 pounds a few years ago, I am tired of gaining a few pounds during the holiday season. Each year it gets harder and harder to shed it off. It's time for me to stop it, and it's time for many others out there to stop it too.

Thankful I can run

Fellow blogger, Jason, posted a list today of running-related things he's thankful for. I'd suggest checking it out. I pretty much agree with everything on there, as most runners probably do. (Only difference is I'm thankful for Advil.)

Each Thanksgiving seems more and more like an early Christmas. The decorations are out, people are already checking their lists twice ... and we still have more than a month to go. But before I get to Christmas, I wanted to express how thankful I am that I can run. While every runner talks about getting faster, losing weight, setting PRs or discussing gear, we need to set a day aside - like Thanksgiving - where we give thanks for being able to have those discussions in the first place.

So Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Don't eat too much turkey.

By the numbers

Since finishing the marathon became such a high priority, I never did look at the actual statistics with where I finished. According to the marathon's Web site there were 3,783 starters. You have to do a little digging to find that there were 3,684 finishers.

I placed 1,852nd overall, so I was barely in the second half. A mid-packer. Out of 230 in my age group (25-29), I was 131st. And out of 2,215 male finishers, I was 1,272nd. Crazy, crazy numbers since I'm so used to runners with 200 or fewer people. These are all numbers that generally I don't care too much about, but they're out there for me to possibly challenge one day.

I'm tired

I'm tired. After months of what felt like non-stop thinking about running and spending 4-5 days a week getting up and running, I'm just flat-out tired.

I know this feeling will subside, I'll get re-energized and will enjoy running. Besides, I have a 1,000 mile goal to hit. I have a half marathon in less than four months to run. I have 2008 to plan. But I'm tired. I know there's no rush or no pressure to run hard for a little while, and I don't feel bad about it. On the days I have run, I can feel my body still getting over the abuse of 26.2 miles.

Some people can just get right back out there and keep racing. But did I mention that I'm tired!?!? I'm not one of those people. Not yet.

Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving. For those turkey trotting that day, have a great run. I'll be running my own, very slow trot that day, but I'll be out there no matter how tired I feel. There's no reason to stop now.

Not running ... because I can

So this is how the 99.9 percent of you live. (Did you know that just one-tenth of one percent of Americans actually finish a marathon in a year?) For the first time in months, I didn't feel pressured on a Saturday morning to get up and run. So, I didn't. I went on a nice 2-mile walk with my wife and dog. We came back and cleaned the house. I finally got the blower out and cleaned off my driveway. Damn acorns.

Tomorrow I'll mow my yard for the last time in 2007. It's been so dry since I moved into this house in September that I've only had to mow twice. Mowing this late in November seems weird, but the grass has gotten taller and it's easier to pick up leaves this way. Maybe I'll go for a run, maybe I won't.

While I am focused on hitting 1,000 miles this year, I have also missed out on the joys of being a homeowner. My house is actually clean for at least a day and I don't have leaves on my deck for at least a few hours -- right now, that is more important than going out for a run.

1.1 of 925.4

Since it was raining this morning, I promised by best running buddy, Duke, that I'd take him on a walk when I got home from work, and maybe a short run if the rain had let up.

Well, it's about 20 degrees colder this evening than it was earlier today, but the rain had cleared up. We headed out for the walk and quickly we were jogging. It wasn't much, but I had my first post-marathon run today of 1.1 miles. It probably came a day or two earlier than I expected, but it felt great. Aside from still being winded, my legs, my knees, my ankles and my arms all felt great. Apparently, it just takes my lungs a while to feel good again -- I was like this back in March after the Shamrock Half. I was doing some group track runs on Saturdays, and a week later when I tried to run hard I had to take it easy about half way through the workout. I rarely read about this problem, but I know I'm not alone in this feeling.

So that run puts me at 925.4 miles for the year with 46 days to go this year. That's an average of just over 1.6 miles a day to hit quadruple digits -- sounds easy, right?

Decisions ... but not before 1,000 miles

I have a lot to think about while on my journey to 1,000 miles. I don't want to rush into decisions about 2008, and that's why I am committed to hitting 1,000 miles this year before I fully plan out next year. That doesn't mean I can't start asking myself questions on what I want to do.

Four days after becoming a marathoner, my legs are only sore when going up or down stairs, and nothing else hurts. I've gone on a few short walks this week and have felt great. I'm obviously still winded from running 26.2 miles, but I never expected to feel this great in such a short time. I'm not jumping back into anything though. I'll have a couple of short runs this week and three short runs next week. I seriously contemplated a turkey trot on Thanksgiving, but I don't want to risk injury by running hard within two weeks of the marathon. I am about 95 percent sure of doing the Bedford Christmas Classic on Dec. 1 -- whether it's the 5k or 10k is something I'll decide later.

My plan between now and Dec. 31 is to have a reverse taper to get back to 8-10 miles as my standard long run. I'll smartly do what I have to do to get to 1,000 miles. I should have no problem hitting that mark as long as I stay healthy. As far as training goes for the Shamrock Half, I'll lay out those plans later. But beyond that?

You should've heard me after the 30k in October. I said I'm never training for a marathon again! My wife properly ignored the crazy talk. In my head I was preparing a blog entry on how much I hated anything past a half marathon. Those long training runs were boring; it was hot; I was running alone after moving; it was eating too much into my weekend. But after Nov. 10, I have that itch. I've seriously thought about the Charlottesville Marathon in April. That would make Shamrock a perfect warmup, and instead of laying off the mileage too much before summer, I could increase the long runs, then get some rest in late April/early May ... which would then be perfect to train again for Richmond. Basically it would be: good rest between now and late December, train January-April, rest in May and early June, then build back in July. I think I could get in the 40-50 miles a week range rather than 30-40. Or I could focus on getting better and stronger in shorter races. I haven't done a 5k in a while and I've missed that distance. 10ks continue to be a big challenge for me. And half marathons seem just the right distance. I feel I have it in me to make my current 5k pace be my half marathon pace. I'm in competition with myself, and these shorter races are so much fun to go out and try to beat my previous times. There are plenty of half marathons out there -- including Richmond next November. They're less time consuming and not so hard on the body. But then there's the endurance challenge of the marathon, and I have that one 4:13 time sitting there.

The good thing is, I don't have to make any decisions right now on any of that. I'm still enjoying my marathon experience for at least a few more days. I'll enjoy some french fries a couple of more times before signing up for something else in 2008. Tonight, I think I'll have some Oreo cookies for the first time since ... well, I don't really know when. You can bet, though, that as soon as I hit mile 1,000.1, I'll have something figured out.

Post #101

This blog started as something to hold me accountable for the Richmond Marathon. What started as a journey to just another race turned into a story of so much more. Just two days after running 26.2 miles, I feel like I can really do anything I set my mind to ... except walking down stairs!

This is my 101st post. I couldn't have timed it better by having 100 posts ending with the marathon report. Number 101 is like a starting over number ... a what's next type of thing. Back in April when I started this blog, I thought I knew so much about running and was treating the marathon the same way I had approached all other races. But a marathon the first time around is about pushing your limits and taking your body to the edge. It tests you just as much mentally as it does physically. It makes you think about everything you've ever done in your life -- if you're a person who has regretted things along the way, it turns you into a no regrets type of person. It puts the "life's too short" cliche into reality. Life is too short to waste time on a lot of things. Life is too short to have regrets.

Who knows why it takes training and running a marathon for the first time to realize these things, but it just does. Life is like a marathon -- there are ups and downs, fast times and slow times, times where you feel the best you've ever felt and times you question your own sanity. And it all works out in the end.

By sitting at home today and getting rest, and unable to do much since I can't walk normal, I keep asking myself, "What's next?" I don't like the term "off season" -- once you're hooked, there's downtime, where training continues in a lesser way. My approach to 2007 was: run the Shamrock Half Marathon and see how I feel. Well, I ran it, then was marathon bound. All races in between were for training. And that's the biggest thing that's changed about me this year -- focus on the big event, but keep running races for speed training and running with large groups of people.

Before I worry about 2008 besides the Shamrock again, I have a goal to meet before Dec. 31 this year -- hitting 1,000 miles for the year. It wasn't a goal I had until recently, but it'll be a great way to close out the year. I'm at 924.3 now and will resume that journey (slowly) on Saturday or Sunday. After I hit 1,000 miles, I'll fill you in on the rest of 2008.

I am a marathoner

I can now say what many people never say in their lives - I am a marathoner. Even if I never do one again, I am a marathoner. Yesterday was truly an unbelievable experience. From the start to the numbness near the end, I took it all in.

The weather before the race was nice and cool. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, but cold enough to start with gloves and a thin long-sleeve shirt underneath my Livestrong shirt. I planned to toss those aside when I would see my wife and family and my friend Jon at the party zones creatively set up by the Richmond Sports Backers. After I walked around a bit with everybody, I said my goodbyes and then did a little more walking around, just amazed at the thousands of people getting ready to do this. Then, fortunately, I saw a familiar face -- I knew my old friend Travis (in the photo below), who I used to play basketball with, was running, but I hadn't gotten in touch with him. But among the sea of people, there he was along with a guy he had been training with. Their goal times were between 4-4:30, so it was perfect to run this race with them.

The start of the race was odd -- it just started. The speakers weren't loud enough where we were to hear the national anthem or the gun to start the race. We were suddenly walking forward. No one was pushing or in a rush, but as soon as we hit the start line, the running began. It was nice having someone to run with -- we were basically chatting about old times in Bedford and catching up on other things in life. We hit the first mile in 9:15. Everything felt great -- the weather was still good and no one around us was running too hard or too slow it seemed. We hit the next two miles just under 9 minutes and kept getting that strong urge to pee. I knew I would have to at some point, but I was hoping to wait until closer to half way. But this couldn't wait.

About half way between mile 3 and 4 I sped up to get to the port-a-potties and hope that I'd time it out where Travis and his friend would go by as I finished. It was perfect, although I ended up peeing next to the port-a-potty along with about half a dozen other guys. After a quick mile of 8:33 thanks to having to pee, we maintained a good pace by hitting the next miles at 9:16 and 9 minutes. Between miles 6 and 7 were downhill and clocked in at 8:42. I managed to take off my gloves, stuff them in my pocket, then take off the long-sleeved shirt without missing a beat. I then held onto my gloves and shirt until I spotted my group at the party zone. I had an easy hand-off of my clothes to Jon. And to my surprise, my group had made some signs -- I should have never mentioned running like a gazelle last week.

The next mile made its way up a small hill to the Huguenot Bridge -- the first uphill of the race and everyone stopped talking until we were crossing the bridge. It was the first chance to see the James River, and on an overcast, slightly foggy morning, it was a very awesome view. After crossing the bridge, the course went down Riverside Drive to run alongside the mighty James. It was like running on a back country road -- so nice and peaceful, and the miles were just going by so quickly it seemed. Miles 8, 9 and 10 were: 9:15, 8:58, 9:20. It was a comfortable pace -- basically about the same as my training pace on normal runs.

After we hit the double digits and strolled through a neighborhood and got to Forest Hill Avenue, I was wishing I had my gloves back. My hands were cold. The sun came out oh so briefly somewhere along there, but the weather, overall, was still good. When we hit the double digits, I was hoping my family made it to the next party zone at mile 12.9 so I could exchange hats. Even though I wasn't sweating all that much, getting something drier on my head was going to be welcome. Miles 11 and 12 were in 9:04 and 9:15.

In previous races I've done, I rarely pay attention to the crowds, but not for this race. Everyone seemed more genuine in their support for this event. This wasn't a race -- it was an experience, and I think for many spectators it was an experience, too, rather than usual clapping and shouting "Go runners!" So, as I was in awe of the spectators, I saw my group at the next party zone from at least 50 yards away. I stopped briefly to make sure the exchange went easily. To my surprise my sister, brother-in-law and dad had made it to this stop as well. I hit mile 13 in 9:22, and hit the half-way point just under 2 hours chip time.

This whole time I had not gotten caught up in my time or trying to figure everything out with finishing at a certain time. My #1 goal was to finish and somewhere in the 4 hour range would be all the better. But it was the half-way point when I started hitting distances in a race that I hadn't done before (that 30k just doesn't count in my books), I realized what an experience this was turning into. This wasn't like a 5k or the half marathon where I was worried about goal times -- this was becoming a life-changing day, on top of the already life-changing training. That all being said, at halfway, I briefly thought that if I kept that pace I'd be under 4 hours, but I pushed those thoughts aside knowing that this wasn't a race against time.

After a 9:14 mile to mile 14, I began to pull away from Travis. Conversations had pretty much stopped anyway, as the mental part of the marathon started to take over. At mile 14, I grabbed two Clif gels that were being handed out. I chewed one (I really don't like Clif gels, but they seem to work the best) and put the other in my pocket that I took a few miles later. Up to this point I had taken two PowerBar gels at mile 2, and somewhere around mile 8 or 9. Plus I had taken an Advil at the same time of the second gel.

I did mile 15 in 9:30 when the weather started to change. Coming across the bridge back into the city, the wind was in my face. Wind? That wasn't in the forecast, but sure enough that wind kept going and going and wasn't in our backs for the rest of the race. It was always coming from the side or directly in our face. Between miles 15 and 16 seemed so long. Was this bridge ever going to end!! It was a great view -- the James to the left, the city skyline to the right. The sun was trying to poke through again, making for some cool rays of sunshine. But along the never-ending bridge, there were no spectators, just cars whizzing by, with a few occasionally honking their horns. Surprisingly when I hit mile 16, I was just under 9:30 for the mile. That was the longest 9-plus minutes of running I had ever done.

The next few miles were nice because I was in familiar territory running by VCU and my office. As I hit mile 19, I could tell I was slowing, but everything seemed to be in check. (Mile 17-19 were 9:37, 9:46, 9:49.) My feet were hurting just a bit, but nothing major. And just before mile 20 was a hill -- I dreaded that hill. It was at this point I began to see people stopping to stretch, or just flat out walk up the hill. I had come that far that I was not going to walk until the next water stop. I hit mile 20 in 10:30, then slowly walked through the water stop. Even though I had gotten lots of water or Powerade at every stop, and I was feeling great as far as thirst went, I took this water stop for all it was worth. Two cups of water and a cup of Powerade to go, please. I walked about another 100 yards taking every drop of fluid in those cups. About 10 other people were doing the same thing. And this is the point that everybody talks about -- after mile 20.

Every block or so, at least one person was stretching or rubbing their legs. It was at this point, the numbness started in my legs. Nothing hurt really, except my feet just a bit. It was at this point when I started thinking about everything in my life, looking for things to push me the final few miles. My feet were hurting -- my grandmother who passed away earlier this year always complained about her feet. Was this her way to keep me going? That's what I thought.

With the walk break for the water, I hit mile 21 in 11:14. I thought it would be 15 minutes. I wasn't looking at my watch except at the mile markers. I didn't want to know my pace at this point. I felt like I was pushing myself, except I hit mile 22 in 10:18. I hadn't ran a training run that slow since I was running the hills in Lynchburg. But I kept running, not looking too hard at the people stretching. I didn't want my mind to force my legs into a cramp. I don't remember if it was mile 22 or 23, but I walked through another water stop, grabbing two cups of water and a Powerade. I also kept cursing the wind. Miles 23 and 24 were in 10:19 and 10:17.

Less than a 5k to go, I was telling myself. I've ran plenty of 5ks, I can push myself through this. I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. I thought a lot about my late Uncle John and wondered what he would've thought of this. It was kind of eerie, but a single ray of sunshine was poking through the clouds when I was thinking about him. It was proving the point to me that running a marathon for the first time wasn't about what the final time was, but about this experience of putting your body through something amazing. It's just so hard to describe.

I was trying to go faster, but I hit mile 25 in 10:40. What!?!? I was pushing myself, but I just wasn't going faster. By this time, the numbing had spread to my arms and hands and I was freezing. Between miles 23 and 25, I was running with arms to the side, moving them up and down and squeezing my hands trying to get rid of this numbing feeling. It was like someone else was inside me doing the running, but it was my mind carrying the body along. You hear how much running is a mental thing -- the final 6 miles of a marathon is 90 percent mental.

When I hit mile 25, I knew it was a little more than a mile, with much of it downhill. "It's all downhill from here," is what the spectators were saying. It's easy for them to say. But as I rounded the final turn, I started seeing people who had already finished and they were showing their support for us who were finishing an hour after them. So truly the marathon does end! The final mile they kept saying ... I can run faster for the final mile can't I? Sure, I was flying, or so I thought, going down that hill. Mile 26 was 11:04. At this point, I knew I had less than a lap around a track and I wasn't going to stop now. The last .2 miles, I managed an 8:13 pace, so yes, finally, my body was doing what my mind asked it to do.

At mile 25, I knew I wanted to beat 4:15. Finishing within 15 minutes of my ideal time would be great after 26.2 miles. I managed to have a chip time of just under 4:13. As I cross the finish line, there was no standard arms-in-the-air celebration. I think I tried, but seriously, my arms were numb from the race and the coldness. After I crossed, I just stopped for about 30 seconds and thought, I did it. I really did it. I thought maybe I'd cry, but I just didn't have the energy to. On my first step after stopping, I was like, I can walk! I got a Mylar blanket, which immediately helped the cold feeling. I got the chip snapped off my foot -- I couldn't even lift my right leg to help out the guy cutting them off.

I grabbed my finisher's medal, and looked back for a second -- I really did it, I kept thinking. After getting the medal, I opted to skip the photo op with the SunTrust logos all over the place. I wanted to talk ... or at least see a familiar face. It had been a couple of hours of silence, except for a few comments with other runners along the way. I quickly saw my wife and my dad and they asked how it was. I didn't have an answer. I was hungry ... and cold.

The unfriendliest part of America's Friendliest Marathon is after the race. You have to walk downhill to get some food. I got a slice of pizza, a banana and a Powerade, then walked back up the hill. I warmed up briefly in the host hotel lobby, and I was ready to go home. I still didn't know what to say about my experience. I briefly looked for Travis afterward, and for fellow blogger Jason, but it was just too cold and windy to stick around. I think most people around there felt the same way.

So, while I could still walk reasonably well, I took a shower while my wife ordered pizza for my mom and stepdad and Jon (and me). I came downstairs and rolled The Stick over my legs. I began telling a few stories about my experience, but it was still hard to put into words. More than 24 hours later, it's still hard to come up with the proper words as to what it meant to me and what it was like. The physical parts are easy -- I can barely walk. I slept downstairs just because I didn't want to walk down them early this morning. My elbows are actually sore -- after running for 4 hours, I guess it makes sense. I actually am less sore than I thought I would be, but it's still not pleasant. Last night I would sleep for a couple hours, wake up, physically pick my legs up and put them in a different position and repeat 2 hours later.

But as far as what this does to me mentally ... it'll take a while to put into words. I want to again thank everyone for their support these past few months, and for coming out yesterday. It means so much to me.

So, now what? At one point this summer, I swore off training for a marathon again. But that was when it was 90 degrees and had a horrible long run. Training is the hard part -- the experience of the marathon is priceless. It's a time commitment that I don't have right now or next summer. I miss my weekends, and I have a house that I'd like to spend time on next summer. I really like half marathons from a racing standpoint, and that's what I'm focusing on next in March. Like I said last year at this time, any decision on a marathon is going to have to wait.

I'll take this PR and this experience for all its worth. If I never do another one, I have absolutely no regrets on what has happened in the past few months and yesterday. If I could do yesterday all over again, I wouldn't change a thing (except for keeping my gloves). I can't ask for anything better than this feeling I have right now. I am a marathoner.

26.2 (not a race report)

4:12:51. What an experience. I'll give a full race report soon, but I wanted to get my time on here. And after 26.2 miles, it's definitely not about the time. Those who have done this probably know what I'm talking about. For now there is pizza to be eaten, beer to drink and ... more beer to drink. Maybe I'll catch a nap in between the beers. It's time to enjoy myself and to celebrate.

Final pre-race post

So this is what the day before a marathon feels like? I can't get back to sleep, so I decided to get up and stop rolling in the bed. I'm not really nervous -- I'm just ready for it to be race day. It feels like the few theatrical productions I've been a part of -- I know my lines, but I just haven't performed in front of an audience yet. The cast: 5,000 other people, and we're probably all thinking the same thing this morning.

Anyway, I went to the race expo yesterday and quickly dashed away $100. I finally bought "The Stick." I've been wanting one for a while, but it's hard to track down in stores and it's generally more expensive online. When I got home I immediately rolled out all the knots in my body. I was surprised at how tight my legs actually were. I also bought a Christmas ornament with "26.2" written on it, and I finally bought a couple of racing stickers -- one with "13.1" and other other with "26.2" on it. I purchased a funny running shirt related to running with my dog, and I bought a yellow hat that reads "Running is cheaper than therapy." It'll match my yellow shirt well. I'm still trying to figure out if I actually like yellow ...

I must say I was a bit disappointed in the crammed feeling of the layout at the expo. If I wasn't quickly moving along, I was in somebody's way. I can only image what today or tomorrow morning will be like. If organizers want to continue to grow the numbers, they'll have to find a bigger place for the expo, or utilize the Omni's space better. Think about it -- 5,000 marathoners, 6,000 8k runners, 1,000 children running the kids race and dozens of expo workers/volunteers alongside hotel workers. Many of those people bring at least one other person, so you're talking about at least 25,000 people filtering through small spaces in a short time, except for there being no one at the Times-Dispatch booth. :-)

The weather is still looking nice and cool for tomorrow. I'll probably be starting with gloves I nearly wore out last year and likely tossing them to the side a few miles in. So there's another $20 or so I'll have to shell out again soon for running. The few miles I've ran this week have certainly helped me adjust to the drastic weather change and it'll make running this winter seem a little better than last year.

Before I leave, I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone for their support since I started this blog in April. From the comments to the emails to those I know personally who talk to me about running, I greatly appreciate you being there for me. After tomorrow, I'm not sure what'll happen with my postings. With this post, I've started bolding key words. Not sure why... just trying something new. Who knows if it'll last. My subtitle will have to change and I'm sure for a few weeks I won't be 100 percent focused on running. I'm hoping for a few short races before March's half marathon, but I'll discuss all that later. If you feel compelled to say "good luck," I won't yell at you. I'll know that you really mean "have a great race."

Pre-race Paranoia

For the first time since one of my first races, I am experiencing being paranoid. If I've had a slight pain anywhere, I get worried. Then it'll go away. I woke up earlier than usual this morning thinking about race day. While I'm sure I'll have no problem waking up on time, there's part of me that thinks I'll somehow sleep in too long. My usual race week diet -- heavy on the fiber the first couple of days -- has me thinking I have stomach issues, when I know I don't. I've gotten ready for a big race before, just not a marathon.

Anyway, a quick check on the weather. The forecast for Saturday has gotten colder every day this week, which is fine with me. Lows are forecast in the mid-30s and highs now in the low to mid-50s. Accuweather has a forecast high of 53 Saturday. says 56. No matter what you look at, it'll be nice and cool -- perfect for running.

Wear yellow, make a difference

It's the biggest decision after signing up for a big race. Every runner thinks long and hard about it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run the big race the first time ... so we ask ourselves, what will we wear?!?!?

For my first ever race, I wore a cotton yellow shirt. I bought nothing new. For the Virginia Ten Miler, I wore all black. Not sure why ... it just make me feel faster. Again, it was nothing new or special for the race. For the Shamrock Half in March I did what was appropriate - I wore green. But it wasn't all green since it was cold - my long-sleeve shirt was green and white, and I wore green shorts. For that race, I did shop around to find something green to wear. For the marathon, I wanted to buy something new as well, but what? Most of my running gear has come the cheaper route through Target, but no offense to Target, that store lacks cool racing gear except if you want to dress in one solid color. The store does have more options than it used to, but it's nothing that stands out enough for my first-ever marathon.

Then the other day, I got an email from Dick's Sporting Goods about the new Livestrong gear. "Wear what Lance wore in the New York City Marathon" is the hook, but to me, that's not really the hook. It's not an association to Lance Armstrong that I want to have -- haven't you heard the latest in his personal life? -- it's helping cancer research. Giving some sort of money to cancer research should be the hook, so why not wear yellow?

So I went out and bought the expensive yellow shirt -- I could have bought three new shirts at Target for that price, but for the Richmond Marathon I wanted to do something different. What little bit of money goes to fighting cancer is different enough for me. And wearing the yellow Livestrong shirt helps spread that word a very little bit. (Actually, I preferred the black shirt, but Dick's didn't have matching yellow shorts for the men.) Since the forecast for the start of the race is the low 30s right now , I'll probably start the race with a thin black shirt underneath. Black shorts will accompany the yellow shirt. The shirt is so new, I couldn't find the exact image online, so the one to the right isn't the exact shirt, but it's close.

So, if you're out there still thinking about what to wear for the Richmond Marathon, don't be afraid to wear yellow. If you're watching the race from the streets and don't know how to show your support, think a little about wearing yellow. Together we can all make a difference.

"Only" 8

After seven straight weeks of having double-digit long runs, and four weeks of double-digit long runs before a bad week in September, it was weird running only 8 miles today. While it felt great, I got that itch for the first time while tapering to do more. My body is well rested and ready for a marathon. Mentally, I'm there too.

Next week I'll have a couple of very short 2-3 mile runs and one 4 mile run, basically taking it easy all week. I'm taking off work on Friday to #1 get my mind off work and to #2 get some extra rest. I'll be taking off Monday as well.

On another note, I wanted to address wishing people luck before a race. Everybody does it. But in the past month or so, I've realized how much I don't like hearing or saying "good luck." It's not luck that gets runners to the start line and it's not luck that carries us to the finish line. I didn't get lucky to lose weight by running and I didn't get lucky to train for a marathon. While most people are being nice to say "good luck," I think saying "Have a good race/run" or "Happy running" or "Run like a gazelle" is more appropriate. It's fine if "good luck" is your thing ... I'm sure I'll hear it a lot this week and I'll probably accidentally say it a time or two, but just know that's it's really not about luck.

My prediction: the predictions will change

Many, many moons ago, I wanted to be a meteorologist. But I was destined for a lower paying job as a journalist. That being said, I'm still a weather freak, but I HATE long-range forecasts. Predicting the weather 10 days out is ridiculous, but you know I can't help but look. Right now the forecast for Richmond on Nov. 10 is a high of 66 and a low of 44 with a 20 percent chance of rain. Not bad -- I'd prefer it to stay below 70 for the race, and it looks as if the weather will be very consistent for the next week. What little running I'll be doing will help my lungs continue to get used to the cooler weather.

Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye on that extended forecast, and I can guarantee you that it'll change a lot over the next few days. No need to be a certified meteorologist to predict that. ;)