Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Thursday Stoke!

Today I'm stoked about the cool swag that came in the mail recently. A few weeks ago I was one of a few winners of a giveaway that Frayed Laces held on her blog. A few days ago I came home and a large UPS box was waiting for me at the door. I had completely forgotten about winning the giveaway until I opened it up and this T-shirt with lots of Halls Refresh candies fell out. I tried one immediately and decided they're pretty good tasting. I don't see much benefit to using them before, during or after a run as they don't have much of the things runners are looking for (carbs, electrolytes, vitamins, etc.), but they sure do taste well. I will probably try a few of them out during surfing sessions next week in Puerto Rico. Since they're wrapped individually it will be easy to stash on in the wax pocket of my boardshorts. The T-shirt is cool, but not really my style. However, I do think I might wear it too while surfing as a layer of protection from the sun simply because of the bright yellow words on the back that I failed to take a picture of that read, "Rethink Your Everyday Refreshment." For some reason I think that would be hilarious to read on my back as I'm flying down the line of a head high wave with heals on the nose! That's more my style.

Thanks Frayed Laces!

I'm always stoked to win anything!

In other news:
Yesterday I decided on a little experimentation. The idea came from the Go Dog Go Race that will be held in New Smyrna Beach this Saturday. Mainly it's a 5k race, which I ran last year, but they are also having a 1/2-mile Dog Dash and that intrigues me. I won't be running it this Saturday because I have better plans with a special someone in Gainesville, but I can't help but think, "could Sir Tucker and I win that dog dash?"

I'm never run only a 1/2 mile before full out so I have no idea what time or pace I could do nor my dog. I know that my dog is only good for about 3 miles before he "tuckers" out. He usually starts off with a bang and doesn't pace himself so he should be great for 1/2 mile!

I clocked out a long stretch of straight road through a nearby neighborhood in my truck and then verified it on Then I laced up my new Brooks and walked Sir Tucker around until he "dropped a bomb" in the neighbor's yard (dude, don't worry I picked it up with a baggy). With our pre-race bathroom routine done it was time for the 1/2-mile experiment.

We both stepped up to my imaginary start line. I had Tucker "sit" and I crouched low while preparing to start my Nike wrist watch and said aloud as if Tucker would surely understand, "1....2....3.... GO!"

I sprang into a medium sprint; not as fast as say chasing down a pop fly in the outfield, but faster than I'd ever run during my normal runs. Tucker followed with a "Oh-boy-oh-boy this is exciting" look on his face. The first 30 second were easy and Tucker was right there with me almost heeling at my side. He was not distracted and he didn't try to kill me by crossing my path or tripping my long arse legs! The next 30 seconds Tucker began to lag behind me about 6-feet. I yelled, "come on boy!" to encourage this new behavior on my part. I also started to breath really fast... a new sensation.

Around the 90 seconds into the run I could clearly see my imaginary finish line. My legs felt fine. No Achilles tendon pain (my major concern), but I was beginning to feel pain in my lungs. The air temperature before I left was 58 degrees. Perfect I thought. I immediately recognized this new sensation, but not from running. I know it from surfing. It's the feeling your lungs and body have when its oxygen deprived like when you've exerted yourself super hard and then take an entire set of bombs on the head while trying to paddle out of the impact zone in hurricane swell surf. I've heard runners call it Vo2MAX. I'm not sure what the V stands for and maybe I should look it up. In aviation V-speeds are speeds to fly by like Vne, which is Never Exceed Speed or the imaginary speed of where the integral structure of the aircraft can be compromised.

At 120 seconds into the run I feel as if I've surpassed Vne while breaking the sound barrier inverted and my entire system has been compromised. My pace has significantly slowed down to about half of where I started and not by choice, but pure instinct. I see the finish line merely feet ahead and find a little more energy to increase pace until I've past my mark and I stop my clock. It reads 2 minutes, 40 seconds. Or a 5:20 mile pace. Tucker is about 10 feet behind me. We both stop and I almost double over. That was downright painful! It takes at least as long as the run for me to catch my breath to where I can talk again. Tucker on the other hand immediately sets about sniffing every nearby object in sight and peeing on selected targets. He seems fine if not even winded. "Whatever dude, I'll still out run you in distance any day," I think to myself.

So now I know. A 2:40 half mile. Experiment complete.

On the walk back a homeowner strikes up a conversation by asking about my dog. I had to explain my experiment to him after he says, "Man, you were running so fast I thought you might be in trouble or someone was chasing you."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hump Day Dog Day Therapy

This is Sir Tucker the Wonder Mutt (aka Mr. T Wiggles). He is a 4-year-old Labradoodle and he will totally lick your toes, but only if he likes you. He will also give you a high five... as long as you are on your knees. He was born on New Year's Eve and we party it up on his birthday every year!

Recently, Sir Tucker has discovered a new passion... getting as dirty as possible by rolling, scrounging and running through leaf piles in the backyard. I snapped this picture with my cell phone seconds before his morning leaf ripping session began.

I guess I need to bust out the rake and clean this mess up! Happy Hump Day everyone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting back on the horse...

After finishing the Disney Marathon last week I really wasn't sure how long I'd wait to run again. The few days following the marathon I felt minor soreness in my legs, but mostly the post-marathon pain was in my ankles. My injured left Achilles tendon was swollen very slightly, which I believe was a sign of mission accomplished as in not causing my injury to become worse. My right foot was moderately swollen. This was new and I'm not sure why this happened. The only thing I can think of was the extending amount of time I was pounding pavement with Harrison. I expected the race to take about four and a half hours at our intended pace, but with the curve ball of Harrison's cramping we finished just shy of six hours. That's an hour and a half longer than I expected and nearly two and a half hours longer than my longest recorded run. After a few days the swelling went away and my right foot looks normal.

Saturday morning I decided it would be a great idea to go surfing. I counted the days since I last surfed and it was something crazy like 13 or 14 days. That is simply not acceptable. With the air temperature finally back up to around 70 (we had 13 days of below freezing nights here in Florida) it seemed like a great opportunity. First thing in the morning I threw my performance 9'0" Walden and a 5'10" fish in the back of the pickup truck and headed off to the inlet feeling like I was prepared for anything! The beach was barren and the wind was kicking out of the southeast, or pretty much onshore. There are dead fish scattered all over the beach. I notice several large Snook that would have looked better on my dinner plate. The water got so cold it killed them. The waves looked ridable, but not fun at all. Not a soul in the water at the inlet. I text Norton to see if he wanted to surf with me only to learn he was too hungover to make it (the night before was his best friend's Bday party). Hmmmm, paddling out alone in less than ideal conditions and super cold water... not sounding like such an great idea anymore.

I continue on to the inlet and look on the inside of the rocks. There are two kayaks and a SUP guy out there. It's a small right breaking wave sheltered by the rocks from the wind. I consider it. I get out and walk down to the water. It's so freaking cold that it almost feels like it's burning my feet. I check the report on my phone and it says the water is 49 degrees. I have booties, but still they're only 3 mm and my suit is a 3/2. Us Florida boys aren't geared up for water this cold! Mission to go surfing = FAIL.

I return to my garage and work out.

On Sunday the Girlfriend (I've got to come up with a better alias for her because she's so awesome) and I headed out to the Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve that's just a few miles from my house. I really wanted to share this park and all its super fun riding/running trails with her as it's one of my favorites. We did the entire 7-mile loop on my two mountain bikes and it was a blast! We even saw a family of wild hogs carrying one of those cold killed fish from the river up into the woods. We rode past some trail runners and all I wanted to do was run the trails rather than ride them. I guess I really am a runner after all?

On Monday (yup, TallGuySurfing took MLK Day off from work!) I took her to the Smyrna Dunes Park to run the boardwalk. This is another favorite place of mine to go running. It's also right next to one of my favorite surfing spots so I get to scout the beach as I run by on the boardwalk. We did 2.5 loops, which amounts to about 4 miles. We didn't time ourselves, but just ran at a good clip and chatted away with great conversation (some exciting running/travel plans are in the works). Oh and by the way, that gnarly onshore wind from Saturday flip flopped to offshore and blew the ocean so flat it looks like Lake Atlantic so the surfing dry spell continues. Later in the day we did a session of Bikram Yoga. I was hesitant to do it at first because I was concerned it would exhaust the Girlfriend so much (it was her first time) that it might be dangerous for her to drive home late at night, but she insisted. I was also worried she might not like it since she does normal yoga often, but she totally rocked it and loved it!

So there you have it. In two days, I mountain biked 7-miles of rough trail, ran 4 miles at the beach and did 90-minutes of Bikram yoga all with someone truly amazing. Now that's how I get back on the horse after running my first marathon! I'm so stoked to have found someone that shares the same energy level as me and many of the same passions. I cannot remember the last time I was this happy! I have a feeling ya'll are going to be hearing more about her in future posts!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stokin' Friday

Because I totally missed The Thursday Stoke due to my insanely long Disney Marathon Recap (part II) yesterday I hearby proclaim today Stokin' Friday!

I'm stoked for all this swag I got at the Disney Marathon Expo last Saturday before the race. It was my first big race expo and can I just say it kicked arse!

First off there was all the free stuff I got in my race packet goody bag and some additional stuff just by talking to venders. For example: I struck up a conversation with the Merrell people and told them how much their Merrell Chameleons that I own rocked for my feet in the Grand Canyon and the trailing running in Oregon. We also joked about how if Bear Grylls wears them they must be awesome and they gave me a really cool free T-shirt! Here's the free loot I scored!

Then there was the discounted swag...

That's right folks. Those are new Brooks Adrenaline running shoes. I've probably smelled them 10 times in the past week as they are sitting there in my closet almost daring me to go for a run instead of resting and healing! I've finally gotten myself into a place where I can alternate running shoes (with the Acsics 2150s) once I start running again. I also purchased a Stick, which I've incorporated into my morning stretching routine. I actually used the SpiBelt during the race to bring along my cell phone and hold my bib number. It worked well, but I noticed a bit of condensation or moisture on my phone the one time I did use it so not sure if this device will have any useful purpose during the heat of summer in Florida, besides I don't plan on running slow enough to need to carry a bunch of crap with me in the future! hehe... Oh and the orange reflective safety vest? D bought Harrison and I both one. She's very thoughtful and wants us to be safe. I might actually use this when I find myself running before dawn on busy streets (for instance a relay race).

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. It's looking like the high will be 75 degrees here tomorrow. Why O Why in the hell could the Disney Marathon NOT been this weekend? Oh well, I think it's time I get back in the water and catch a wave or two!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Disney Marathon Recap (Part II)

If you haven't read the first half of this recap you can catch up HERE.
-Warning: This is going to be long-

Never in my life have I run such a long distance wearing SO much clothing. As Harrison and I leave behind the organized chaos that was the start line we attempt to find our agreed upon pace. This is not an easy task because of several factors. First, we're surrounded by thousands of other runners... slower runners and it's dark and below freezing with many hazards such as discarded clothing and plastic bags spread across the course. Second, I'm wearing so much clothing that it's hard to judge how fast I'm running compared to normal Florida running (aka wearing the least amount of clothing possible). And third, my feet aren't exactly warm, but more like numb stumps making it even more difficult to run. As we approach Mile 1 there is a clock with red numbers for an ungodly amount of lapsed time since the official start of the race. I did manage to remember to start my watch as we crossed the start line so I could have an idea of my chip time, but I didn't feel like pulling back all the layers of clothing to find the damn thing. Some quick rough math and I figured we were running an 11-minute pace. "Good effing God we're going slow," I think to myself. Then I see Harrison checking his watch out of the corner of my eye. He starts to mumble something. Reading his mind, I say "it's alright, we'll speed up as we warm up," or at least I think I'm saying something to that affect. In reality I really haven't a clue of how this fiasco is going to turn out.

Not much later Harrison tells me to hold up for a second as he very quickly stretches is calves since he did not get a chance to do it back before the race started. I take a second and look around. We're on a 4-lane highway that has been closed down for the race. There's nothing but forest around us and many runners are climbing down the road shoulder to piss in the woods. I get a chuckle thinking about how this is probably the one event out of the year where thousands of people will get away with pissing and occasionally taking a dump out in the open all across 40-square miles of Disney World property. I'm also reminded that I haven't pooped in two freaking days despite eating an insane amount of food and wonder if this will become an issue! Soon we're running again and as we approach mile 3 we see the leaders running by on the other side of the road. From what I can tell one of the Brazilians is out front with two runners pretty much drafting him and a fourth runner a few hundred feet behind. They must have already run through Epcot, back out through the parking lot and onto the highway again toward the Magic Kingdom. No telling how far ahead they are, but one thing is for sure; they are making us look like we are standing still as they disappear into the dark pulling away and heading the same direction as us but on different section of the course.

The first aid station arrives and I ask Harrison, "You good?" He yells back, "I'm good," and we blast through not taking any water. This may have been a mistake. Then we're in Epcot and the course narrows causing a huge bottleneck of runners making it nearly impossible to pass any of the slower paced runners we seem
to be stuck with (this bottle-necking occurred more times than I could keep track of off and on for the entire race). Harrison told me prior to the race that he has never been to Disney World. Knowing this I decided to tell him a little bit of the limited knowledge I have from dozens of trips I have made to the theme parks. I make a joke about the big golf ball looking thing. I explain all the countries that surround the lake and how terrible the hangover from "drinking around the world" can be at Epcot. I point out the Living Seas Aquarium and tell him about how I once got to go scuba diving for free inside it while on a date. Harrison is silent.

This is my first realization that something is going on; something is not right. The previous long run Harrison and I did together that went so well for both of us was full of conversation. I wonder if he is overwhelmed by everything happening? I wonder if something is going wrong with him? I wonder if he's just freezing balls like I am?

We approach another aid station as we're leaving Epcot. I look over at Harrison and say "next time we're here it'll be mile 25." We both turn down the Powerade
and take a cup of water. To our surprise we get more than water. My cup is like a 7-Eleven Slurpee and Harrison's cup is solid ice. The cups of water are freezing faster than they can give them out. Bet Disney didn't see that one coming. What's even more messed up is the inevitably spilled water is freezing on the pavement forming a fine layer of ice to run across. I almost can't believe I'm in Florida! At later aid stations, for lack of better supplies, volunteers throw beach sand on top of the ice making the ice under the sand even harder to see and avoid. Ironically, the "aid stations," quickly become the most dangerous part of the race!

At Mile 4 we're back near the starting area and there is a huge crowd of spectators lining the course. Cowbells, whistles, clapper devices, screaming and yelling fills the darkness. I'm aware that this is one of the points that the Girlfriend and D, who were attempting to meet up with Morgan (Caution:Redhead Running) and Spike (Running Spike), were planning to cheer us on so I start scanning the crowd. Everyone is so covered up trying to stay warm that I start to think I might not even be able to recognize them. Just as we're about to go through a gate ending the free spectator area I hear my name being yelled out by a voice from the past. A voice of an old friend that I'll always recognize the timbre.... it's Morgan! I turn around in the direction of the voice, but can't see her 5'1" tall frame amongst the crowd. However I do see my Girlfriend and also Spike. We've already passed them and are moving along so quick there's no way to go back and say anything with so many people right behind me. Seeing them and knowing they're all there brings a smile to my face.

The next few miles are uneventful. We pass a chip sensor at mile 5 and I f
eel my phone buzz from the automatic text message update alert and a DJ announcer guy calls out my name completely wrong. My first name is NOT Steven! This is the second race this has happened. In the Halafthon they said I was from New Port Ritchey, which is completely wrong. At least I know my D-tag is working after starting on the wrong course. The first hints of sunlight start to show up on the horizon and now I start to notice the "freakers" in this race. At least five Jack Sparrows are running within a mile front and back of us. One guy wearing all blue and a U.S. Coast Guard sweater has his entire face painted blue and even is using a blue latex cap to cover his hair. At first I think he is one of the famous "Blue Man Group" guys, but then realize that's a Universal Studios thing, not Disney. I'm baffled at all the women I see carrying stuffed animal Disney characters. I shouldn't talk since I'm carrying my own gear,* but unless the stuffed animal is super warm a giant hand warmer I don't see the motivation to carry it 26.2 miles. The best example is a very large woman. She doesn't look like she should physically be able to run a marathon so props to her for going for it, but seriously? She is holding a human sized stuffed Goofy character. With the giant stuffed animal and being so large she is causing some serious issues with people trying to get around her! Then there are the novelty T-shirts saying all kinds of funny quotes. My award for the best one of the race goes to the girl I saw with the shirt that read "I will not remember any of this."

In my mind I had this ideal image of the sunrise and its brilliant orange, red and pink rays of light streaking across the sky with one of several classic Disney landmarks in the foreground. It would be a great picture I told myself. In real life the only thing I wanted was the sunshine. When the sunrise finally arrives we happen t
o be passing a gas station of all things. Beautiful....

Somewhere around Mile 8 Harrison asks to stop again. His calves are cramping up so he starts to stretch them again. Knowing that sometimes stretching along with massaging helps leg cramps I offer that advice. He starts massaging them himself and I decide to help. We probably look like quite the couple on the side of the road as hundreds of runners pass. His calves feel as hard as concrete. It freaks me out to the point that I say "holy shit" aloud. It's as if he is flexing them on purpose a
s hard as he can. I feel my own calf muscles and they feel like mash potatoes compared to his cramping calves! He doesn't say for sure if they are any better or not, but after a few minutes of walking we start running again. After Mile 9 we come to an aid station and I decide to take a Gu. Thank God for Vanilla Bean Gu, my new favorite Gu ever! This will be a treat!

First, I have to unzip my pocket. This turns out to be an advanced skill. I'm wearing two pairs of gloves and it's now that I realize I can't feel any of my fingers
. My left pocket will not unzip. It's just not happening so I switch to the right pocket and SUCCESS! I reach in, grab the first thing I feel and pull out a Vanilla Bean Gu... SUCCESS. Next, I attempt to rip it open... FAIL. By now we've reached the water tables and I'm forced to take a water if I don't want to stop moving forward. This creates a new problem of trying to open this damn Gu and also not spill my half frozen cup of water. Finally, I get pissed off and bite the living hell out of the Gu and thus having it splooge out half on my glove, some on my face and the rest in my mouth... SUCCESS! You must always take great joy in overcoming even the smallest accomplishments when overcoming adversity!

As we pass the Contemporary Resort I can't remember if this is where our friends were going to try and see us again or if it was the near the halfway point. There are quite a few people cheering us on, but I don't see anyone I know. Soon after, we enter the Magic Kingdom and the crowd is huge, the biggest yet, and I feel a little anxiety start to overcome me simply because I can't feel any of my fingers and it seems to be getting worse. I start to worry about hypothermia, or just the fact that my body might be concentrating blood circulation in my core. This makes me angry. I hate being cold! I tuck my hands under my sweatshirt and under my arms. It's not that I hear that family timbre calling my name again. I look to the crowd and this time spot them better than last time. Slightly confused because I didn't expect to see anyone within the Magic Kingdom** I see before me Morgan, Spike and Beth (Discom-BOB-ulated Running). By this point Harrison and I have a little joke going on about an old Saturday Night Live skit involving Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken and a band where Ferrell is playing the cowbell in the studio. We've already yelled out "More Cowbell" to quite a few spectators and I yell back at Morgan, "more cowbell," but I can't tell they can't hear me so I just wave like a fool as I run past. I'm really just stoked they are all here to support all their friends and me! Then I try and yell back, "I can't feel my fingers," and "where are the others?" Why I felt the need to say this is beyond me? Then I realize that 1.) they can't hear me and 2.) they can't even tell I'm saying anything because my lips are covered up with my neoprene "ninja mask." Feeling like an idiot I wave goodbye, turn and start the run toward Cinderella's Castle. It's funny the things you say, do and think while running a marathon. I remember thinking after this incident about how that was the first time I've ever seen Discom-BOB-ulated in real life and how she seemed taller than what I thought from reading her blog.

The rest of the Magic Kingdom is uneventful. It looks exactly the same as it did when I was 5-years-old. I tell Harrison about a few things about the park, but he's being awfully quite. The only thing that shocks me is that the Thunder Mountain ride looked a lot larger when I was a child. We exit the park and are back on the highway. Harrison has to stop a few more times because of severe muscle cramping. I'm
starting to feel really bad for him. I can see the frustration in his face and hear it in his voice. It's almost a confusion of "why did this happen to me this time, but not other times?" Just before an aid station I hear someone say, "is that Sylvan? Hey Sylvan!" I turn around and find Jessica and Julie, two sisters that were high school friends and we all played together in high school band (Go Cuda Band!). I knew they were running the race in honor of the mother and raising money for a charity, but I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to hook up with them as I didn't have a phone number. Out of 24,000 runners we just happened to run into each other. Amazing! What's more amazing is I haven't seen them since high school. We stopped after the aid station and had Harrison take a few pictures of us, but then parted ways as we were all running different paces.

Near the halfway point I spotted the Girlfriend and D outside the Grand Floridian resort cheering for us! I waved and yelled to Harrison to let him know they were there. Disney kept them back about 20-unnecessary-feet from the course (a little frustrating if you want to go say hi to a loved one). I felt bad that they were out in the cold, but it really helped knowing they were out there for us. T
he best news after this point is when I started to regain feeling in my fingers. The sunshine got stronger and helped warm me up as I was in mostly black clothing. The worst news is the longest few miles of the race were ahead of us.

The next 8 or 9 miles pretty much the hardest. Before and after the Animal Kingdom were long stretches of highway. Disney does a great job of trying to keep it interesting considering what they are working with, but when you take away the random cast members and other oddities it's just a bland roadway and a few insanely large parking lots. At one point we run past a waste water treatment plant. Disn
ey tried to create a distraction by having two large hot air balloons right in front of the plant, but that didn't stop the smell of sewage from catching our attention. Somewhere off in the distance I hear another runner singing "Oooooh that smell... can't you smell that smell..." from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell." At another point I look over at the ditch along side the road. It's full of water. About 3-or 4-feet deep. There's a thin layer of ice frozen over the top of it. I almost trip over the slower runner in front of me as I can't believe what I'm seeing. Never in my life in FLORIDA have I seen any body of water even remotely come close to freezing! We made it through the Animal Kingdom without being eating by any lions. In fact, we did not see one animal. There were a lot of bottlenecks again and right after leaving the park at Mile 18, Harrison experienced the worst cramping yet.

I ponder my options as he stretches on the curb. For the first time I consider leaving him behind and going it alone. He is now cramping in his quads... NO BUENO. I figure that since the problem is obviously cramps we don't need to be worried about injury. If they are cramps they should be able to be stretched, massaged and worked out with time. They are severe enough that he can't push through the cramping without stopping and walking or stretching. The many transitions
from running to walking is starting to take its toll on me. At our current pace we should be able to walk faster, which is another problem; for whatever reason I'm now experiencing minor pain in my ankles when I walk, but not run. Our original plan was to take 1 or 2 minute walk breaks every 15-minutes of running, but currently we're taking so many walk breaks because of cramping that I've lost count. I'm feeling really strong. I'm no longer cold and I'm not fatigued at all. Other than the first few miles when I had more clothing on, I haven't even sweated at all. There's 8.2 miles left in this race and I feel like I could run the rest of it without stopping at an easy 9-minute pace. Then I consider that my entire reason for running with Harrison and taking walking breaks is to finish the race without provoking further injury to my Achilles tendon and while my physical endurance can easily finish this race quickly, my Achilles may not hold up. I remember the Girlfriend's words, "run to race another race."

For the first time, I pull out my cell phone from my newly purchased Spi Belt and shoot a text message to Girlfriend saying "@ 18 w/ Harrison. He is having severe leg cramps. I am going to stay with him."

Decision made. Harrison got me into this marathon business 7 or 8 months ago... screw the finish time. That's not the goal anyways of "Plan Whatever!" Through hell or high water we're going to finish this race together!

Miles 18 to 20 seem to be absolute hell for Harrison. Our running pace slows to the point that a speedwalker could pass us and we have to stop time after time to stretch and massage. He turns down the free Biofreeze at a medic tent, but I finally convince him to take some Tylenol at the next medical tent. I tell him that it can't hurt to at least try it and I even pop one of the two pills they hand me as we w
alk up. Honestly, my feet are starting to ache a little from going from walk to run and back so much. Inside the tent there are about a dozen very healthy and fast looking runners wrapped up in multiple Mylar blankets. Each one of them owns a spaced out expression on their faces. Most of their complexions are ghost white and hypothermic looking. As we walk away I turn to Harrison and say, "dude, it could always be worse," and for the first time of the entire race I get a laugh out of him.

When we arrive at Mile 20 they are playing Van Helen's "Jump" over the loud speakers. Right when the song gets to the "jump" I leap up in the
air next to Harrison and yell "jump." I'm feeling really good. This is further than I've ever run on a long run and I'm a little hungry, but for the most part I'm fine. The cold is no longer bothering me. I'm not sweating. I decide to ditch my sweater, eat a banana and take another Gu. Only a 10k to go! Totally cake!

Sometime after Mile 20 Harrison and I come up with a plan; attempt to
run for 4 minutes no matter what before walking again. He makes it 7 minutes! Woohoo! We're rebounding from those two terrible miles. We walk a few minutes and attempt to go 7 minutes again. He makes it and now we're at the entrance to MGM (or Hollywood Studios or whatever it is called these days) and guess what? They have candy. Sweet and Sour Gummy Worms to be exact. I grab the biggest handful I can get out of the box and devour them like a starving African (however, for the record I am not even close to feeling like a Kenyan despite all the motivational signs Disney put up). Let me just tell you these were the best damn gummy worm candy I've ever had my entire life!

About halfway through MGM Harrison needs to stop again. I now notice that Harrison can walk faster than I can walk. Walking fast simply hurts. I haven't a clue why, but I'd rather walk slow or run so I let him walk ahead of me. A couple minutes later he turns around from 40 feet ahead and we give each other the nod and start running again. I have no problem catching up, it's just the speed walking that hurts. Next thing I know... poor crowd control on Disney's part... a mob of stroller pushing mothers breaks rank and we almost run right into a freaking stroller! Disney did such a great job of keeping the non-paying spectators on the outside
of the parks at a ridiculous safe distance, but I just almost got run over by a stroller pushed by an angry mother that is having her sub-freezing day at Disney World being hampered by a random marathon. Miles 23 through 26.2 are not the places to have crowd control issues.

We make it out of MGM alive and then encounter the boardwalk around a lake and the Yacht Club, Beach Club and Swan & Dolphin Resorts. I love running on boardwalks. They give a little and are easy on the legs. However, I do not love running into a headwind with a wind chill factor in the 20s after I've thrown away all my warm clothes for the last two miles of a marathon! Harrison and I hump our w
ay through it and eventually emerge into the back part of Epcot. They are giving out chocolate. I grab a ton of it again like I'm a starving African and begin stuffing my face. After the race Jessica told me that by the time the reached this spot Disney had run out of chocolate and the only evidence were thousands of Hershey's chocolate wrappers laying on the ground. I think I would have killed myself... or just gone into one of the nearby "countries" and started drinking heavily.

At Mile 25 I heard that family timbre again and just as she had promised, Morgan and Spike were waiting to cheer us on and I was able to stop for a quick picture with the Redhead (who is hardcore for spectating in this freezing madness). I asked if we were the last of the group to come through and they said they haven't seen Melissa (I don't Need Excuses) yet. Upon looking at the times, she must have been right behind us. It's too bad we didn't get to see each other and if I had know she was so close behind I would have stayed to cheer her in like the Daytona Half Marathon.

The finish line is now in site. I spot the Girlfriend and D in the crowd, wave for a picture and then Harrison and I cross the finish line, arms raised high in the air, both at the same time and continue into the chute. I grab a Mylar blanket, which I throw away almost just as fast as getting it (it was super annoying and a pain in the arse to keep wrapped around me with all the wind), and then approach the guy giving out the medals. I have this thing about race medals. I don't like to wear them. I don't know why... I just don't like to wear them. I extend my hand out, but he won't hand it over.
Instead he makes me this very Tall surfer-guy-turned-runner bend down so he can place it around my neck. At first, I'm like "what the eff, give me my metal!" But, once I bend down, get the medal and take a look at it I leave it around my neck. For once, I'll wear this medal for a bit.

We pass through the food tent and I grab a bunch of food; basically a little of every thing I see. We cross out into the "Family Reunion Area" and I hear the Girlfriend's voice yelling my name. She runs over to give me a hug and I pick her up off the ground. She hesitates with concern about me picking her up, but then realizes I'm fine and multiple kisses follow. Yup, it was great, I'm not going to lie.

Dees arrives just in time to catch us leaving and since it's windy and we've all had way too much cold for one day we agree on getting the hell out of Dodge. Next destination? Panera Bread, where I eat the hell out of a chicken sandwich, huge chocolate chip cookie and drink a sugary soft drink (I was craving sugar for some reason). Before making the trip back to New Smyrna Beach we hang out for a while at Dees house. I inspect my feet. No blisters and all toenails accounted for and best of all? My Achilles tendon appears to be normal with no swelling!***

Here are a few interesting stats I looked up:

Registered Runners - 24,000
Runners Finished - 16,883 (no word on how many crossed that start line)
Harrison and My chip time - 5:53:35 (I could care less, but I feel we would have been about an hour faster without the cramping)
My Calorie burn according to MapMyRun - 3,010

Food consumed within 24 hours of finishing the Disney Marathon (excluding Panera Bread):
-Two large pizzas from Dominos (night after and lunch the next day)
-1 protein shake
-Chicken Parmesan flat bread sandwich
-Large bag of cashews
-Countless glasses of water
-1 Rockstar energy drink
-Half carton of Orange Juice
-Box of raisins
-Ham, egg and cheese bagel from Bagel World.
-1 Cliff Builder's protein bar
-White wine sauce over Salmon and pasta with peppers, mushrooms & scallions
-Large bag of almonds
-3 girl scout cookies
-5 of my roommate's tater tots stolen directly off his plate
-Several glasses of cranberry juice

And yes... I did finally poop, but not until after countless "silent" farts during the race and a few loud ones and not until well after the race was over THANK GOD! So in the greatest sense of humor I can confidently say I ran the coldest damn Disney Marathon in history while being constipated with a cramping friend while the best friends ever were there to support me, run with me and provide MORE COWBELL all in a SUCCESSFUL effort to finish my first marathon!

Plan Whatever... a SUCCESS.

And on a side note:
I really thought I was unprepared for this race. I wonder if I would have even showed up if I didn't have my wonderful support network of friends? One of my blog readers, who seriously needs to start her own blog already and stop being only a reader, wrote me today with the following as part of her email:
I did the non-traditional race this year and decided to:

A) run no more than 6 miles to prep
B) carb-load with wine in the days before the marathon
C) party hard w/Jello Shots until 12:30 in the morning at a friend's surprise party the night before the marathon
D) party so hard that I forgot to eat a pre-marathon dinner
D) pray to God that I wouldn't die during the run

However, this is a terrible approach and I would never do it again.

I laughed out loud so hard when I read that and I must say that while she has a great since of humor, she did have ligament excuses for not being able to prepare. However, she did finish and it's nice to know that someone else out there was even more unprepared than myself and still managed to have some fun because that's what running is all about! She also called me out on my serious lack of finishing up this recap as a few other have as well. I'm sorry it took me so long and as one of you put it, my legs might be sore, but not my fingers. I've been bombarded with work this week, plus I had company fly in from Puerto Rico for a few days. So here it is... the recap and I hope you enjoyed it! Now I have a lot of reading to catch up on as I haven't had a chance to read any other blogs yet.

*Yes, I ran 27+ freaking miles in 27 freaking degree weather carrying an Olympus Stylus SW freeze proof camera the entire way!
** Disney requires spectators to buy normal park admission tickets if they want to watch from within a park... I think.
*** The day after the marathon I noticed a good amount of swelling in the right ankle, which is the opposite foot from the Achilles tendon injury. It's not painful, but it is significant and I'm treating it with R.I.C.E. I believe whatever is going on here is what was prohibiting me from walking fast toward the later part of the race, probably just from pounding pavement for so dang long. I really feel like it was a 6 hour hike, not a run.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Disney Marathon Recap (Part I)

Guess what?

Your friendly neighborhood TallGuyS
urfing is still alive with no new injuries and is no longer a marathon virgin. That's right folks! In the face of some pretty heavy adversity we came, saw, froze and conquered the coldest Disney Marathon in history. But first, let's start at the beginning.

To bring you up to speed it all started at the beginning of last summer. I was at my friend Harrison's house drinking some beers. We had this great conversation about marathon running. At first I told him he was insane for wanting to run said marathon, but a few beers later I stood up and proclaimed to the world that "I too shall run this so-called marathon!" Then the training began and this blog transformed into a mostly surfing blog to a mostly running blog (don't worry I will always be a surfer first) and then I injured my Achilles tendon the first week of October. Training program be damned and the decision was made to run the Disney Marathon (non-refundable deposit) as a fun, relaxed and experience gaining race. Eventually it was decided to run with Harrison (who uses the Galloway training program of running combined with walking) and perhaps finish with him since I could not run my normal pace because of the injury. Finally race weekend arrived and that brings us up to speed.

Since the Disney Marathon officially starts at 5:40 a.m. and all the instructions sent out by the race coordinator instructed us to be at the starting area before 5 a.m. preferably 4 a.m., our little crew was grateful to be put up by a surfer friend (Dees) that lives in Orlando very near Disney World. On Saturday afternoon, myself along with my girlfriend (yes, TallGuySurfing now has a girlfriend :-) she's a marathon
runner and she's awesome and soon I'm gonna make her into a surfer as well, hehe), Harrison and his wife, D, headed over to Orlando a day early. First on the agenda? Race packet pickup and the Expo!

The first thing I noticed about the pre-race experience is how well organized Disney is and with little effort we found our way to The Wide World of Sports Complex and easily picked up our bib numbers at the Milk House and even managed to get Harrison upgraded into Corral B with me so we could run together from the start and not be lost in a maze of 24,000 runners. Soon we entered the actual expo. T
his was super exciting for me. It seemed like everyone who is anyone in the running world was set up offering their newest products. We spent about two hours trying on shoes, talking to venders, laughing at funny T-shirts, making race posters at the Sharpie booth and eating some wonderful samples of Cliff products. It was a perfect expo experience; not too crowded and not longer enough to tire our tapering legs.

Right around dinner time we arrived at Dees house, which happens to be in the same neighborhood as Tiger Woods home (don't worry he didn't attack any of us or hit on my girlfriend). Dees was stoked as always to see us and it was great to see him and his house. D made us all the perfect pre-race dinner (grilled chicken breasts and pasta with white or red sauce). Whenever D makes anything it's good. I'll even eat foods that I hate if she has cooked it. I started carb loaded two days before in small portions so after this meal I felt more fueled than ever! The only thing I was concerned about was getting a pre-race poop in before having to start running. So far my body was not having it, which is very strange for me. After dinner Harrison and I got everything organized for our 3:20 a.m. wake up call and even put on a little fashion show. OK, well, I did by trying on all the cheap thrift store throw away clothing I purchased a few days earlier.

Throw-away clothing inventory:
70% Wool trench coat - $8
Cotton Sweatshirt with my work logo on it - Free
Sleeveless zip-up Fleece - $4
Over sized Cotton sweatpants with the legs cut open - $3.88

Cheap white gloves to wear over running gloves - $1.50
Neoprene Face Guard (aka Ninja mask) - $2

After making sure everything fit I cuddled up on the couch with the girlfriend next to the fireplace and we all watched a surfing video Dees had just bought. Pretty soon everyone went to bed and the last time I looked at the clock it was a little after 11 p.m..... that was until 2 a.m. when I woke up sweating for no good reason. I got up and used the bathroom. That's when my whole world started closing in on me, you know, like when just before you pass out? I leaned over, put my hands on my knees to stabilize and tried to decide if I should lay down or throw up in the toilet. I managed to collect myself and return to the couch where laying down helped. Girlfriend got me a glass of water and I felt better and thankful at the same time. Seriously, I don't know what the heck was wrong with me, but it passed and soon it was time to get up, eat a cliff bar, two bananas and some almonds, drink a LOT of water and hit the road.

We were out the door by 4:20 a.m. (we planned on 4 a.m.). I knew this was not good, but tried not to stress too much about it. Almost as soon as we exited the Interstate onto Disney property we hit traffic congestion, just as the race coordinators war
ned. It wasn't until 5:20 a.m. that we found a parking spot in the Epcot parking lot. Then we had to walk about 1/2 mile to the starting area. I decided not to check a bag at the last minute. There was already too much stress in the air to worry about it. Just before the bag check-in tents (where only runners are allowed past) we found the typical long lines of portable restrooms with long lines of people waiting. Not knowing if we'd have another chance we wasted about 10 minutes waiting and going to the restrooms. Still... no poop for me. I swear with all the pre-race stress in the air I think I was more concerned about the fact that it had been more than a day since I pooped and I had eaten twice as much food as I normally do in that amount of time. Where the heck is my body storing it all??? I know sometimes I'm full of crap, but seriously? SERIOUSLY?

Just as we left the bathrooms explosions sounded and we could see fireworks in the far distance. Shit! The race was starting and we were not even close to the start line. A quick goodbye was said to the Girlfriend and D and Harrison and I started "jogging." I quickly ditched my wool trench coat (a bloody shame) and Harrison pulled off his
outer layer sweat pants. First, we went through the bag check tents, then followed signs for another 1/2 mile. We passed many people walking, who seemed not to care that the race was beginning. The Girlfriend gave me a card the night before and told me to read it just before the race. I struggled to rip it open with the double gloves I was wearing. Then I read it aloud so Harrison could hear. I regret having to throw it away because I can't remember it word for word, but it was one of the best good luck wishes I've ever read. Included inside was a sticker of a raccoon sticking his head out over top a log. It read "Seize the Moment." I peeled it off and stuck it to my chest. As we approached what appeared to be a staging area for our Corral B a volunteer told us we were too late and the course was closed. We would have to start in the later corrals. Disney starts its marathon with many corrals divided between two courses. Both courses merge at the 4 mile point. The course we were supposed to start in looked like a disaster area with clothes thrown about everywhere almost as if 10,000 people stripped down and went streaking. Parallel to our intended starting course was the second course with many MORE corrals, half of which were still waiting to start; another 10,000 people in various stages of removing clothing and crowding together.

I asked two different volunteers if we started in the other course if our D-chips would still register and our races would be officially timed and got two different answers.
This concerned me greatly, but there wasn't much I could do about it other than make sure I time my own race on my own watch. A few seconds later we found ourselves herded into the last corral of the entire race. I just kept thinking about the fact that 24,000 runners would be ahead of us and how much it is going to suck to try and pass slower paced runners the entire race. I looked back at Harrison and he seemed to be as confused as I was with a huge look of pure stress upon his face. A few other runners next to us were in the same situation. Then about 10 of us jumped the fence between the two beginning courses and started jogging past the thousands of runners all clumped together trying to stay warm and waiting for their corrals to get the green light. My morbid mind equated it to a scene in the movie "I Am Legend" where Will Smith is trying to get his family out of New York City. It seemed like a good quarter mile we ran past thousands of runners until we found the front and were immediately stopped by more volunteers. Upon showing them our bibs with our corrals they let us onto the course and said "go ahead and start."

I looked back and could see the endless pack of runners ready to pounce. The start line must be 100 feet wide. Seeing this just behind you and then hearing the dude on the load speaker start a countdown from 10....9....8..... is intimidating as hell. Ahead of us nearly another quarter mile was the official start line for the course we were not supposed to be starting from with nothing but scattered clothing and plastic bags everywhere! 7....6....5....4..... I looked at Harrison and said, "man we gotta get some distance from them," and we picked up the pace a bit. Before leaving the house I incorporated about 10 minutes of stretching into my routine. Harrison did not stretch with the intention of stretching at the start line, not that stretching in 26 degree weather would help. I could see the stress on Harrison's face and noticed how quiet he was being. 3.....2......1......BOOM.... corral G was starting several thousand feet behind us. I looked back and couldn't see them it was so dark. Just knowing how many people were running behind me freaked me out a bit, but I was then distracted by the official start line. We crossed and the clock read a little more than 17-minutes. I started my own watch (yes, TallGuySurfing remembered to wear his watch) and heard a high pitch beep as I crossed, which I hoped was my D-chip registering in the race computers.

Pretty soon we were swallowed up by the biggest crowd of runners I've ever experienced. Instead of the well known sound or pitter-patter of thousands of feet gliding across the pavement I instead noticed a new sound. Something I have never heard before and something hard to describe. It almost sounded like a faint and ill ocean, but in reality was thousands of trash bags, plastic ponchos and aluminum or Mylar blankets swishing and swashing, mushing and mashing as runners found their strides and attempted to stay warm with any means available.

Soon the chaos, loud music, announcers voice and cheering crowd was faint in the distance as I realized the immense distance before me and Harrison became a reality. We had already run more than a mile before even reaching the start line and now, 26.2 miles before us, lay a highly anticipated course that we spent hundreds of hours and months training for (well, Harrison more than me... stupid injury) and never in our wildest dreams would we have known it would all start like this.

Stay tuned for Part II coming soon!

*I apologize for my absence from the blogsphere the past two days. My only excuse is being slammed with work, not muscle soreness as it was nothing as bad as I had expected. More on that in part II of course!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The time is now

There are no secrets...

There are no shortcuts...

You just have to run!

The next time you hear from me I will have some kind of story to tell you about this little race I'm attempting on Sunday called the Disney Marathon. It's my first marathon... yeah, I'm excited and a little scared shit less too, but in my experience fear is a good thing. It keeps you alive.... I say bring it!

Until then... 26.2!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Thursday Stoke!

Obviously, this Floridian is NOT stoked about this:


At least the Max Humidity is down from the 70 % forecast the last time I checked. Dry cold is better than wet cold. In case you haven't figured it out, the above forecast is what they are calling for the Disney Marathon. It starts at about 5:40 a.m. and we'll be there an hour before that standing around trying to stay warm at the coldest part of the day. I am no amused.

However, it is Thursday and I am stoked!

I'm stoked because this race is finally upon me. There's a ton of chatter in several email threads going on and also comments abound on Facebook amongst fellow friends, bloggers and spectators in this race. I'm stoked for all the people I know that will be running, walking or watching come Sunday and while I might be just a little cold, I have a feeling I won't be alone.

Good luck to:

Harrison (my good friend and new found running buddy)
Adam (one of my college roommates)
Jessica & Julie (two sisters that are high school friends of mine and are running in honor of their mother who passed away 26 years ago of lymphoma. 26 years and 26 miles)
Lucy (may this creative writer have a amazing race for a creative story! Despite getting sick and not being able to train she's still going for it! Even her FB husband, Bruce Lee, would be impressed)
Spike's Cousin (hopefully he'll be able to finish without aggravating his injury)

Blogger Runners:
Melissa (of I don't Need Excuses)
Marlene (of Mission to a(nother) Marathon)
Christy (of It just looks like slow motion)
Christopher (of Beyond Defeat)
Bailey (of Irish Cream)

The Redhead (of Caution: Redhead Running)
Spike (of Running Spike)
Beth (of Discom-BOB-ulated Running)
....and anyone else that I've forgot or happens to show up!

Oh, and good luck to the other 24,000 crazy ass running that will be joining us! May everyone meet their goals and finish alive!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

4 More Days until Disney Marathon.... Yikes!

According to my Facebook news feed it seems that most of the country is a big block of ice tonight... including Florida. We're under a hard freeze warning (a.k.a. Holy shit crap it's freezing cold warning) tonight even here in Central Florida. I had to actually drag in my small avocado tree, pepper plants and cover the papaya tree with a bed sheet.

The waves looked absolutely amazing today. A surfer called me because he saw a Jeep with a board on top driving down the road that looked like mine. He wanted to know if I was going surfing and if I knew something he didn't. I said, "heck no man, it's 40 degrees outside and I need a hood!" We had a good laugh.

However, after work I decided that there's no use fighting all this energy I have after doing two days of nothing. I suck at tapering, although I still feel like I don't have much to taper. I decided to go for a "Forest Gump" run. Just start running, test out what it feels like to run in 40 degree weather near the ocean with wind and 70 percent humidity and see how far I go. I opted to wear a North Face windbreaker over my long sleeve tech shirt and it was quite comfortable. I never did work up a good sweat, but I really concentrated on going slow and taking a few short and precise walking breaks. I managed nearly 8 miles in about 1:16:00ish and squeezed in five 1-minute walk breaks including a one water stop at the beach.

I know it's probably not a good idea to run that long when you are only 4 days from a marathon, but it's also a confidence builder. I felt like my body needed this otherwise, based on previous experience, I would be having too much rest time. I've already been told to settle down by a few more experienced runner friends after I told them what I did tonight and I plan to actually taper from here on out. My legs feel pretty damn good at this point. My Achilles tendon feels strong and now I finally feel like I'm ready as I can be under the circumstances for this race. Now.... only to figure out what to do for the next four days?

Race Day looks to be ultra cold... probably in the 30s. It's going to be interesting!

If anyone wants to follow my progress Sunday morning and laugh at how slow I'll probably be as I jaunt through the Disney parks with 24,000 other soon-to-be friends, then can go to this website and follow the instructions to get email and/or text message updates on race day of my progress. Type in my last name: McElroy and my first name: Sylvan (so much for blogging anonymity) and you should be able to find me. Then you can time stalk me based on my chip time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Years Weekend Trail Run

A few posts ago I introduced you to the Cellon Creek Loop at the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park here in Florida where the Dietitian and I ran a 5-mile loop and I regrettably forgot my camera. I was forced to use a couple stock photos of the park in my recap.

But guess what?!?

I returned to the park for another trail run this past New Years weekend with the Dietitian and two of her running friends. They set out to do 15-miles. Not wanting to risk aggravating my Achilles tendon, I decided to run the first two miles with them and then take the Cellon Creek Loop back to the truck and see how I feel. This time we saw even more deer. My last count was 22 I think. I completed one loop and then a little extra to make it 5 miles and felt amazing. The air temperature was in the upper 30s when we started out. Nobody like it. I wore my Nike Fit long pants, wool socks, long sleeve Under Armor Heat Gear, Addias running gloves (which I'm absolutely in love with) and a beanie. It took at least 3 miles to warm up, but by the end of the first loop I felt so good I decided to go for another loop. It would be about 10 miles. Hey, it's better to be running and staying warm than freezing cold and waiting for the girls to finish their 15-miler!

Not 30 seconds after I finished my 10 miles and started to stretch I hear voices behind me. The girls have returned. I think to myself, "Holy crap, they did 15 in the time it took me to do 10? Damn, I'm slow." The Dietitian runs up and gives me a big hug! They are all stoked, but have only done 11.5 miles. "Thank God," I think to myself. They doubled back to use the restrooms and still plan on finishing off the 15-miles on the Cellon Creek Loop.

For good measure, I jumped on my mountain bike and did the Loop one more time crossing path with the Dietitian and her friends somewhere near the middle.

So... Less than a week until the Disney Marathon and I was able to run a 10 mile trail run at around a 10-minute pace (picture taking included) and do another 5 miles on the mountain bike with very little Achilles tendon pain. What's even more exciting is I kept telling myself after the run/bike that I need to remember to take some anti-inflammatory drugs and ice my Achilles. We all went out for a glorious brunch at The Flying Biscuit and I totally forgot about my Achilles until hours later. I neglected it by accident only to realize there was no difference. It wasn't swollen up or aggravated. While the ice and drugs make for a good precaution, I didn't need them after all. Maybe I'm more healed up than I think?

I remembered the camera this time around! Here are a few pictures I snapped during the run.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

Bring on Twenty Ten!

Good Riddance 2009.

I can honestly say that I started this year off better than any recent years I can remember! I spent the last three days with someone who becoming more and more special to my heart. We rocked in the New Year, the Gators won the Sugar Bowl and introduced Cincinnati to the S.E.C. in proper fashion with a good smack down, and I ran an amazing trail run in more than chilly temperatures. However, as much as I'd love to talk about how great Twenty Ten is turning out already, 2009 deserves a little reflection.

2009 by the numbers:

Leashes Broken - 3
Contest Surfed - 1
Surf contest (placed in top 3) - 1
Races Ran - 5
Races Volunteered - 1
Surfing Trips to Puerto Rico - 3
Airline Flights taken - 11
Weddings Attended - 4
Miles Ran - 602
Running Shoes used - 3
Running injuries - 1 (Achilles tendon)
Days Surfed - 154
Meals at McDonalds, Burger King or Hardees - 0
New Experiences - Countless, but still searching for more!

Happy New Year everyone!