Newton’s First Law: I’m Still in Motion

 

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The other day I was thinking that I have run at least 12 miles, or more, every Sunday for the past 12 months; which basically means that I have not stopped training. I have absolutely loved it – don’t get me wrong. My long-run time is some of my most precious personal time, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s just that when I set out on the goal to complete all six Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2016 I didn’t really think about the fact that I had already run three marathons the year before. I have to say that it is catching up with me a little, tiny bit. Since this time last year I have run seven marathons, which equates to about one every 7 weeks. I have run about 21oo miles through rain, heat, humidity, snow, cold weather, hot weather, treadmills, glee, sadness, pain, and some of the most perfect conditions imaginable. I did all of this on four continents, seven countries, and 48 flights, while working in a job that I love. So, it is true that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. My legs are feeling it a bit…

September 25, 2016 I completed the Berlin Marathon. This was my fourth major for the year, however, it was the last of all six Abbott World Marathon Majors. In other words, I have completed all majors in the last 11 months, while also working on completing all six this calendar year. It was pretty awesome! Berlin is such a great city. The race begins in Tiergarten, which is Berlin’s equivalent of Central Park. The course takes participants through most of the great neighborhoods on the former East German side, as well as the West German side. The course is incredibly flat, and the only hills that I really remember were on the bridges that crossed the Spree River. About 5 miles after the start the route took us through Mitte. This neighborhood was absolutely wonderful! I probably spent most of my time in Berlin in Mitte. It is picturesque, and had a lot of new construction, housing, shops, and restaurants, but also has such an old world flair – being that it was on the former East Berlin side. The other neighborhoods ranged from very old-world industrial, to some tree-lined, picturesque roads – like in Shöneberg. The highlight of the course is the finish. This is not only due to the fact that we have all just run 26.2 miles, which is only shown in kilometers here, but because of where we finish. Running through the Brandenburg gate is such an intense rush! This was my first time to Berlin, and to see the old communist parts, and the new “free” parts together was awe inspiring. This gave a totally different meaning to the freeing feeling of finishing the marathon. Not only did I cross the gate to my own freedom of the day, but I crossed in a place where so many were actually freed.

I covered much of my feelings during the race in the last post. Physically this was one of my most trying races, save for the fact that Boston 2016 was my most difficult. I felt very sluggish at the beginning. I was very much in to the race, and so excited, but my body was not feeling the same way. I ran a consistent pace the majority of the way – which was a slow one. My energy just wouldn’t let me pick up my feet fast enough. My mind and body were definitely not as one. I guess it was a good thing, since I would be running another race two weeks later. The temperature for the first half of the race was perfect. Low 60’s and low humidity made for great running. The elites almost broke the world record! They were only off by 6 seconds. But, the temperature went up. I am not one that likes to run in the heat. Funny, because training in NYC this year was hot and humid. This was the hardest training conditions I have experienced, by far. You would think it would help, but it really didn’t. I got overheated at mile 17 and the last 9 miles were a little tough. I was able to power out the last mile, and finish happy. I did almost faint, something which has never happened to me before, but I got it done. At the end of the day I can look back and know it was hard, but I got it done. Nothing left to do but eat lots of happy food, drink happy wine (yes there was beer involved, too), and get myself primed for the next one. On to Chicago…

As many of you know, the Chicago Marathon holds a special place in my heart. It is my favorite race every year, as it is the anniversary of my first marathon. It is also the race that I run with my extended family at the American Cancer Society Determination Team. However, this is notoriously my slowest race. I have always excelled on hilly courses. My body gets exhausted much quicker on flat courses, because it is the same muscles, moving the same way, for a long time. Chicago is as flat as we thought the world used to be. So, I tend to get physically bored – but I still love it. After having a physically draining race in Berlin I was a little apprehensive on Chicago this year. I was psyched as always, just the running part made me slightly reluctant… The day before the race I was mentally exhausted. I have had a lot of things going through my mind, and it was probably contributing to pre-race jitters.  I have to say if your mind isn’t feeling very competent, that doesn’t help the body out – at all. So it is now October 9, 2016 – race day!

The temperature when I woke up was 52 degress. Yay!!! Cool temps make me happy. I woke up feeling very light. I was still a tad apprehensive, but the weight from the previous day was somehow gone. I was able to clear my head, and just get the day going. My plan was to start slow and steady, and see how I go. Running six races in a year gives a whole new meaning to race strategy, so now being on the fifth race, of a six race goal, I can’t DNF.  I get to my starting coral, and my normal nerves kick in. But, this is a good kind of nervousness. It is one of focus. It is also one of calming. This may sound counter-intuitive,  but a little nervousness allows me to recognize it enough that I can calm myself, and use that energy to my advantage. It reminds of something that a friend said once: “Heroes aren’t born, they’re cornered!”. Not calling myself a hero, by any means, but if I am going to call this post by a Newtonian Law, than I may as well say that every action has an equal and opposite reaction – and when the race got going I wasn’t cornered anymore! I started off at a pace that I would stay at through the next 18 miles. I only had about a one minute, or so, variation to that pace for every 5k split – through almost the 30k mark. It still wasn’t insanely fast, but I was on pace to finish my first half at 2:02 – but I did have a restroom break that had a long line. I did slow a bit at 18 miles. I noticed that my legs were getting tight, or I should say tighter than I am used to at this point in a race. At mile 22 I realized I needed to slow. My legs were turning to stone, and I started to realize that the races are probably starting to catch up to me physically. Since I do have another race in three weeks I didn’t want to risk injury. I stayed at that pace until the finish, and it was marvelous. I ended up finishing 35 minutes faster than I did in Berlin.

Chicago ended up being an awesome race for so many reasons. First, is that I know that I can challenge a flat course. This year I couldn’t power it out at the end, but if I set it for speed next year, then I will be able to knock it out. Second, I was awarded the Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Medal. I still have one more to go for 2016, but I have completed all of the major races now. I was escorted to a special place after I crossed the finish line, and was given the medal. It was pretty cool, since even though millions have completed these races there have only been hundreds to do all six. When I am finished with my goal I will be one of 10 in the world – the main reason for making the big charity push this year.  Thirdly, and by far the most energizing of them all, is that I am in the home stretch. On November 6, 2016 I will be running the New York City Marathon. I will have completed the goal of running all six majors in honor of my Mom, my Aunt, as well as all those that have been affected by cancer. After my experience in Chicago I am trying not to have expectations before the race. I am just going to wake up and power it out. I still am constantly amazed at what I can do with my mind, and my body, as well as what my mind can do to my body. Staying open helps to control it. I look forward to giving you all a recap of the year in a few weeks. As always, thank you!

 

 

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