Mother’s Day in Sioux Falls SD in September

I chose Sioux Falls for two reasons and two reasons alone. After the experience, there are many reasons to run Sioux Falls South Dakota Marathon, as I later found out, but I recommend driving and hitting La Crosse Wisconsin on the way.

Reasons:

1) Sioux Falls SD Marathon was held on September 9th.

Boston Marathon registration opened on September 10th.

2) I had not run a Marathon yet in South Dakota.

When two of my good buddies Gerry Faron and Christian Perret decided Sioux Falls SD would be a cool destination race experience it was “game on.”

Beantown

I figured if training went well, I would have a decent shot at re-qualifying for Boston. Funny how your goals become moving targets. I remember thinking way back when in 2006, if I could only qualify and run Boston once, I’d be a happy guy…and I was. But in 2009, and my first Boston experience, I sustained a Grade 1 Hamstring Pull two weeks before the race. I was only able to run it due to the treatment I received from my “Running Guardian Angel” , Dr. Kitty Yon, at the Center for Chiropractic Health. Then in 2010 when my brother-in-law Night Train Neil qualified for Boston in his 1st Marathon, I of course wanted to join him and I re-qualified in Hartford, largely in part to some of his excellent pacing skills. Even though we were a Wave apart, “toeing the line” in Hopkinton on Patriots day of 2011 was one of the best experiences of my life. We made it a family trip, and what a wonderful trip it was.

Ken and Neil relaxing after running Boston 2011

Ken and Neil relaxing after running Boston 2011

I officially had a qualifying time for 2012, I will be part of a trivia question one day. The BAA changed the standards for Boston and the registration procedure and I was one of the 3000 or so who was shut out of Boston 2012 because my qualifying time was not fast enough.

I missed being there with Neil in 2012, so once again my mission became going back in 2013. I figured if I could remain injury-free, hit it hard in training, and catch a good day,I would be going back.

The Call

I elected to go with Pfitzinger 18/55 plan which has been good to me in the past. It is a challenging program written by Pete Pfitzinger that is 18 weeks long and peaks at 55 Miles per week, thus 18/55. Duh. It was also the plan I followed when I re-qualified for Boston in Hartford in 2010.

For the most part, I was locked in and focused in with my training. Throughout, I found myself on a mission even at one point doing 5 a.m., 12 Mile Treadmill runs at xSport Lombard because that is what the plan called for and it was the only time of day I could run. Each and every training cycle for my Marathons, I learn something new about running and about myself. This go around was no exception. I fell into a nice groove of running long, tough runs early in the morning, mostly on the treadmill. Being able to do this was key because I could space out workouts more effectively and efficiently and be more available in my number one priority of being a husband and a dad. In one instance I did an 11 mile run with 6@ Tempo before work on the Treadmill and a 5.5 Mile recovery run after work with the Run Club and my family.

The training went well throughout, and my last 20 Miler went so well that I wound up tacking on an extra mile. In that run, I had a chance to go out at a fairly aggressive pace with my good friend Tammy for the first seven along the Chicago Lakefront Path, before she headed back to bed since she ran long a day earlier. Then at Illinois Ave.. near Navy Pier, I turned around to go back and fall in with my other running buddies Rick and Gerry. I finished out the run strong and felt very confident about my chances of re-qualifying for Boston. I really felt good when the breakfast place we hit afterwards, Nookies Two allowed BYOB and there was a 7-11 right across the street that sold beer. We picked up a Wheat Beer brewed in Stevens Pt. WI. Breakfast was yummy and there were eight of us enjoying a breakfast after a great run in the greatest city on Earth.

Then I received the call

In October of 2010, the week before I qualified for Boston, after my last long run while having breakfast, I received a call from my sister Karen while Gerry and I were at Wishbone restaurant in Chicago. She called to tell me that my Aunt Maureen was not doing good and it was time to “call the family.” My sister Karen rarely calls to talk, electing texting and Facebook posts as her preferred means of communication. When she calls to talk, it is serious. About eight hours later that day, my Aunt Maureen passed away and I was at her bedside with the rest of our family. She was a wonderful woman who I miss dearly. Bagpipes at her burial site during the Funeral were a must for my classy Irish Aunt. I also heard bagpipes at Mile 25 in Hartford and I swear to this day, the bagpiper was sent down from Heaven by her to push me over the hump and get my ass in gear to re-qualify. Let me tell you I need it. I qualified by 70 seconds. Thank you Aunt Maureen.

My mom had been in the hospital dealing with lung problems which originally came about when she was receiving radiation treatment for Breast Cancer a year ago. Can you see where this is going? At that point, running, the Marathon, breakfast, and the weather meant nothing. Karen was calling because something very serious was up with mom. My mom had two surgeries in the last two weeks on her lungs. After she bounced back quickly initially after the first surgery, then a few days later was not recovering as the Doctors had hoped, the decision was made to go in again and perform another surgery. According to one Doctor, heroic efforts were executed to save mom’s life. Again, initially after the second surgery, she seemed okay but could not rest comfortably and “took a turn for the worse”. Karen’s call was to alert me about the “turn for the worse”. It was decision time. My mom had always made it clear that she wanted a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) should she ever be in this sort of situation. Because she showed early positive signs after the second surgery, and because the Doctors believed the surgery to be a success, a decision had to be made. My mom, Karen and the Doctor all thought it best to put her on a ventilator in order for her to heal and rest. It was the right decision.

On that day, my life changed. I was shaken. The thought of losing my mom was devastating.

The next couple weeks my days became, Sleep, Run, Work, Hospital, Home, Repeat.  At this point, it was touch-and-go for my mom. One of our popular selling displays is our “One Mile At a Time” Display because when running gets tough, folks focus on the Mile they are running and no more. I could not help but think that my mom’s life was now one breath at a time.

I am fortunate to have a wonderful family and wonderful friends and we all came together to support one another and to be with mom, smile for her and stay positive and reassure her. My mom’s life became a series of daily battles, most of which she won. All in all, she was moving in a positive direction. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see my mom smile after a couple of tough touch-and-go days. I was able to continue to train but really had no idea what the future held and whether or not I’d go to Sioux Falls SD. It was not until the Wednesday before the race, when my mom’s condition had improved, and the process of weaning her off the ventilator was in full swing that I committed to running the Marathon. I let mom know and she was supportive. Why wouldn’t she be after her two week battle?  My not running it would be to discredit the Monahan toughness ever prevalent in our family, the toughness my mom was demonstrating every day.

Get Busy Livin

My mom was doing much better. I was able to train through the most difficult two weeks of my life. It was now time to pack and head to South Dakota. Being out-of-pocket for a couple of weeks, it was nice to be back on track. This was going to be a road trip for the guys. Uncle Neil had considered joining us but we had Quad Cities on the schedule and that would have meant two out of three weekends away from work. Nell and the kids were also staying behind. I have really grow accustomed to having them near, supportive and key assets in my races. I knew it would not be quite the same and I was hoping that on my own, I would be able to achieve my goal and make them proud.

Gerry picked up both Christian and me and we headed out on Thursday night. The plan was to drive about four hours to La Crosse WI and stay over one night there before heading to Sioux Fall SD on Friday.

Knowing that my mom was doing much better, knowing that I’d have a nice long race weekend with my friends put me in good spirits, and I was very relaxed. I could have made the trip all the way to La Crosse WI without stopping for food but our friend Christian, before he was a PhD Mathematician, must have been a professional eater back in Switzerland. He can flat out eat, early and often so we stopped at a place called the Avenue Bar in Madison WI. From the outside, the place looked very hip and almost trendy but the inside did not match the outside and it had a country Wisconsin feel to it. The food was decent and we had a chance to catch up with an old friend Adam, who had relocated to Madison. I picked up the check and the first thing I noticed was the Sales Tax. Compared to what I am used to paying it was very low. The sub total was $58 something and the total was $60 something. I was caught between being pissed off living in the Chicagoland area in IL, and being happy that I was paying next to nothing in tax for the Bill. I chose to be happy. After all we were on vacation.

Next stop La Crosse WI

The ride to La Crosse went very smooth and we made great time right up until we passed it. We realized we missed a turn once we were on a bridge going over the Mississippi and then saw the “Welcome to Minnesota” sign. We turned around at a Rest Area, then took another route back into Wisconsin and found our way into La Crosse okay, but then once in La Crosse we made a couple more wrong turns. I was riding shotgun while Gerry was driving. I could sense Gerry was ready to be done driving, and that I had not done a very good job as co-pilot. Part of the confusion was that the Radisson that I booked, according to the priceline website, it was on Harborview but really it was on 2nd Street in Harborview Plaza. After a  call to the hotel, we finally arrived. It was close to 11ish and the city was a lot more alive and vibrant than I imagined it would be. The Hotel was darn near right on the Mississippi. During the daylight hours, the view along the river there is pretty magnificent.

We checked in, went up to the room, and found out the room was a one king bed room…for three dudes. I like Gerry and Christian, I like Gerry and Christian a lot. I don’t them that much. When we went down to the lobby, the girl who checked us in sort of giggled about the situation and set us up in a two double bed room. I volunteered to sleep on the floor.

I was ready for a couple of three beers…after all we were on vacation and we had one free day to do whatever we pleased.

So Christian and I set out, with Gerry electing to stay back. It took all of about a one block walk to find the happening area of downtown La Crosse. The street and clubs, and there were quite a few, were crawling with College kids. We settled on a low key bar that had an illuminated sign in the front window that read “lousy service” which was a lie, but it did get us in the door. It was definitely a place where I could chill and not feel like an old weird dude in the mix of college hotties. The relatively short time I have known Christian, he strikes me as a guy who would be comfortable anywhere and very, very comfortable where there is lots and lots of food.

The bar had a nice selection of beers on their beer list very reasonably priced I might add. By now it was probably close to midnight. We worked our way through a number of beers including a $3.00 Hacker Pschorr Weisse which I was amazed by how cheap it was. I would have gladly paid $5.00 for one. Having done several long runs with Christian in training, I knew hanging out with him would be enjoyable. As usual we talked about Politics, Religion, some running , a little sports and then after a few beers we moved on to a more serious, sophisticated conversation about D Ali G and Borat. I thought I could do a decent Borat, until I heard Christian. His impersonation is spot on. Needless to say, laughs were plentiful and we were in good spirits and the bartender even joined in on some of our fun and conversations. She was very pleasant until she threw us out at closing. She was actually pretty cool about that as well letting us finish our beers and some pop that she’d have to toss or do they say “Soda” in Wisconsin? I think she was originally from Platteville and I think the dividing line between “Pop” and “Soda” is somewhere around Stevens Point.

We slept in

And it felt good. Free day time. Since the race was Sunday, the packet pick-up was Saturday, we had a day to do whatever as long as we got to Sioux Falls SD at some point. Breakfast at Fayze’s was great and cheap once again, but the Bodega Brew Pub was even better. This place caught my eye because in the window there are literally 100’s of different bottled beers. I figured Gerry would be all in, and Christian was as well. The fact that Katrina, our bartender, was a runner, made for a nice hour or so. Their Beer lists are in three ring binders and I believe they have 400+ bottled beers on their menu. Talk about being a kid in a candy store, I liked this place and will be back. We consumed a couple beers and Katrina gave us the low down on the racing scene in La Crosse. She had sustained some sort of very serious back injury when she was younger and was told she would not be able to run. She is now up to running Halfs and I sensed she was pretty competitive because she kept mentioning paces around seven minutes per mile. I think after hitting the Bodega Brew Pub, talking to Katrina about running in La Crosse and experiencing first hand that La Crosse was a pretty happening place, although it was unspoken, we were coming back.

Blue Earth, Green Giant

We took a shot at getting a tour of the Pearl Brewing Company but they were closed so it was adios La Crosse. The route to Sioux Falls SD is pretty much a bee line straight West across the southern part of Minnesota. At the first Rest Area, where we turned around a day earlier, we took a look at the map and Blue Earth MN seemed to be about the half-way point between La Crosse and Sioux Falls. I vaguely remember that we might pass the Spam Museum and we did but did not elect to stop. I later found out it is a pretty cool place with clean bathrooms and worth checking out. Oh well. At least we got a good whiff of it on the way back. We could smell Spam from I90E on the way back. We only had about 280 Miles to go but the ride seemed long like a never ending stream of brownish Corn Fields and lots and lots of Windmills. During the ride, when I was not sleeping, I was fascinated by the Windmills. At some point I did raise the question, “How do Windmills actually produce electricity?” I tried to recall Physics 243 at U of I at Chicago but could not. “B fields” kept coming to mind but beyond that I was clueless. It is amazing how much in our everyday lives we take for granted and have absolutely no idea how it works. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of Windmills we saw. I think the Windmills are definitely a step in the right direction. Let me rephrase that, a step in the correct direction.

Green Giant, 54' Tall, Blue Earth MN

Green Giant, 54′ Tall, Blue Earth MN

Who would have thought that the home of the Jolly Green Giant, who stands 54′ tall and has a 4′ smile is Blue Earth Minnesota? Well it is. Now you have something to impress your friends with at the bar or your family at the next family gathering. The last time I had a 4′ smile on my face was when Cole dogg was born and the time before that was when Claire bear was born. The sight of the Bodega Brew Pub put about a 2-3/4’  smile on my face for comparison sake. We took some pictures, then ate, and gassed up and headed out again.

I don’t remember when we arrived in Sioux Falls SD, because on a free day it doesn’t matter. We arrived. The thing that did sort of catch my attention and shift my free day spirit back to the mission at hand was the hills. Going down one of the main streets, I noticed it was pretty hilly. I did not want my free day to end on a sour note, so I did not dwell on the hills, but I did take note. As it turned out, the course did run down the streets a couple blocks to the East and they were indeed hilly. Best not to think about it beforehand.

Friday at our hotel was pretty chill, whereas Saturday exploded into a beehive of activity. On Saturday morning, we did a shake-out four mile run. We ran the first mile of the Marathon course, then back, then tacked on a mile and back past our hotel. My legs felt pretty good. I was optimistic that I would run well the following day. We had a buffet  breakfast at the hotel before hitting the packet pick-up and doing some sight-seeing. The packet pick-up was at the equivalent of a Dick’s Sporting goods in the Chicago area called Scheel’s. It was actually outside and not even in the store. As I was looking at a course map an older gentleman asked me if I had any questions for him. I shot the breeze with him for awhile, then did ask him about the course. He mentioned that it was “fast and flat” except for a hill after the four mile mark. Fast forward  to a day later, just beyond the two mile mark when I found myself going up for awhile, then turned right and was still going up, then turned right again and once again was still going up, I thought to  myself “fast and flat”, spoken like a true Race Director, which he was.

Sioux Falls

I never really knew if a “Sioux Fall’s really did exist. At least not until Gerry suggested that we go see the Falls after we hit the packet pick-up. Now I knew that the Falls did exist in Big Sioux river as a result of the last Ice Age 14,000 years ago. When we got there, we took a walk around. The Area was very nice and scenic and the day was darn near perfect. While we were there I did not realize that less than 24 hours later, I would be running through there around Mile 18 of the Marathon. We took some pictures, read about the history of the Area, and then had coffee at a Historic building overlooking the Falls. It was a peaceful, pleasant setting and exactly the sort of thing I like doing the day before a Marathon. It seemed as though the stars were aligning for a great race the next day.

Gerry, Christian, and Ken

Gerry, Christian and Ken at Sioux Falls

 

 

 

 

 

Before heading back to the hotel, we hit a GermanFest that was in town. By then it was very sunny and starting to warm up some. We did not stay long, but long enough for me to gobble down a plate of German food which could have been a risky move on my part. I really wanted to make sure I had enough food in my system for the Marathon. Interestingly Christian did NOT eat which was quite a surprise and neither did Gerry. There were about four different types of sausages, a potato pancake, some bread and some really tasty red cabbage.

 

Relax, Pasta Scrape, Game Face

When we arrived back at the hotel, the hotel was flooded with runners everywhere. It was now time to get off our feet, relax, do some mental preparation, carbo-load and put on our game faces. I used the opportunity to do a little Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, INC Marketing. I took a Display down in the Restaurant/Lounge area near the entrance of the Hotel and simply laid it on the table in front of me. I allow myself only one beer the day before the race, so I hung out there nursed my beer and did some reading. It is always interesting to see the response from folks when they see our Displays for the first time. To “push” the Displays is out of my comfort zone. That is more Nell’s style. I take a soft, subtle approach to selling. Nell and I both understand each others’ strengths and weakness and  try to play to our strengths, so the differences in our Sales’ approaches is a nice blend and works well for us. The Display generated a lot of smiles, nods and double takes. They could have been door openers to a conversation and a few possible Sales, but I simply chose to smile back.

BikingViking

Anders the Biking Viking

To keep things simple we elected to hit the Pasta Dinner at the Hotel. On the way down to the Pasta Dinner, I came down before Christian and Gerry, Christian and Gerry met the “Biking Viking”. Some folks do the 50 Marathons in 50 States continuously, but the “Biking Viking” does that and more. Anders Forselius, 44 years old, of Sweden rides his bike across the country to run the Marathons!! Even more impressive and amazing is that Forselius, who is a freelance writer, is doing his Biking/Marathon tour to raise money for the Children’s Organ Transplants Association.

The Pasta dinner was in the Hotel Restaurant and I think almost immediately we knew we made a bad choice. There was only one round pan of Pasta and what was left of the Pasta when we first went to the buffet, you literally had to scrape off the bottom and sides of the pan. Not good so we passed and had Salad first. It was quite surprising that it took so long for the staff to replenish the Pasta. They seemed to be in total reactionary mode and only did things upon customers requests. They finally did bring Penne Pasta out and it was overcooked and soggy. I seem to have bad luck with pre-Marathon Pasta dinners. In Traverse City in 2008, the hotel brought out what appeared to be a kid’s portion so I had to order two dinners. And in the Fall of 2008 at Outer Banks NC we waited nearly 45 minutes to get seated at a Restaurant and while we were waiting saw a member of the wait staff erase the Pasta from the Specials chalkboard and they told us they were all out of Pasta and it could not have been later than 8:30 p.m. For future races, I will have to do a little research and better planning. It is a little crazy when I stop and think that I train my butt off for 18 weeks then sort of roll the dice so to speak with the most important meal before my big days. We managed to fill our stomachs, but with what I was not quite sure of.

I don’t really have much of a night before Marathon pre-race routine. I just make sure I kinda-sorta figure out what I am going to wear, locate my bib, make sure I have four pins and make sure I have my timing chip. I don’t even know if I knew exactly what I was going to wear before I went to bed. I also did not know whether or not I would wear my Garmin. Recently my strap broke, so I have to hold the Garmin like a stop watch. The thing I do try and always do is some positive thinking right before I go to sleep. I like to reflect on my good to great workouts and think about a race strategy and I also thought before I went to bed that I was going to dedicate this Marathon to my Mom and really make the best of it. That was probably the best decision I made.

Sioux Falls SD Marathon Race Day 2012, for you Mom

We sometimes wait until it is too late to honor loved ones. A good example of this is Ron Santo’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It pissed me off that year after year he was passed over. Since my mom had a very tough month, but was doing better, I decided I was going suck every ounce of enjoyment out of this race every step of the way and think about my mom and pay respect to her throughout. I also decided NOT to run with my Garmin. Some of my best training runs and races have come when I did not look at my Garmin during the run or race. I was going to run based on effort and ENJOY this one. I stuck with the usual race day breakfast of a Pop Tart, a banana, coffee, water and gatorade. Armed with four GU’s, two in each hand, we walked to the start which was at a Stadium right next to the Hotel. I did a couple slow loops around the track with a few stride outs to loosen and warm up. I was relaxed, confident I’d race well, and ready.

Christian, Gerry and I wished each other well and Christian found a ride to the start of the 5K out near the Marathon finish while Gerry and I took our place near the Marathon Start line. One of the things I had thought about leading up to Sioux Falls was to spot an experienced Marathoner (s), who were running about same goal pace and stick with them. This strategy has worked well in the past.

And we are off!

The only split of the entire Marathon that I knew my time for was Mile 1. As I was coming up on Mile 1, get this…I saw what appeared to be an experienced Marathoner (wearing Marathon Manic attire) just in front of me. Right at Mile 1, I was to his right, and heard his Garmin beep and I asked him the spit to which he responded “7:48”. A 7:48 pace is a 3:24 and change Marathon and a BQ pace for me. I replied “Perfect”, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why I chose to run ahead of this man. From Mile 1, I gradually pulled away from this man. It might have been sort of a “Ryan Hallesque run free” approach. These runs can sometimes be the best. Sometimes that stategy backfires. It was still dark and the first couple miles take you out West some. Although there were runners all around me it was very quiet and quite peaceful. Just as we turned North after a couple miles, the sun started coming up and it was shaping up to be beautiful day. The air temperature was perfect for running, probably in the low to mid 50’s I would have guessed.

In those early miles I gave thanks that my mom was doing better. I thought about my childhood and about many of the wonderful things my mom did for me that were not obvious to me when I was young. Years later, I realized they were great things that shaped who I am today. My parents divorced when we were all pretty young. Although we had great support from my Aunts and Uncles, my mom was pretty much on her own raising three kids. It would have been very easy for my mom to not get me involved in Baseball, Football or the Band. After all how could she afford it? She did whatever it took to see to it that I had a normal boy childhood, which included talking to Mr. Dooley, the commissioner of Schiller Park Football, explaining our situation and getting me signed up for youth Football. Knowing my mom, she probably paid whatever she could, because she has never been the type to expect charity or handouts, and Mr. Dooley agreed to let her slide on the rest and let me play Football. It would have been easier for my mom just to not sign me up because she could not afford it. There is no doubt that had my mom not gotten me involved in positive things early on, I would have turned to hanging out on the streets with the wrong crowd. I also thought about the little yet meaningful things my mom did like seeing to it that we always had a family sit down dinner which provided a strong family bond and taught us to respect mealtimes.

We continued North for a couple miles, headed back South for a mile or so and then started our journey around the Airport. I was groovin and feeling good. If had to guess, and I would bet the farm on it, my pace was at about 7:42± 5 seconds. I figured I was a little ahead of Goal Marathon Pace during the loop around the Airport. I could not help notice that the breeze was out of the North and at the Airport section of the course, that is the northern most part. So for the second half, as we head mostly South the breeze would be at our backs. I was enjoying every step of the Marathon. At around Mile nine it was pretty spread out and I was running mostly on my own and at times I almost forgot I was running a Marathon because it was more like an enjoyable training run. At Mile 9,I also took my first GU. I had been pretty good about hydrating as well. Everything was falling into place and going according to plan.

The section around the Airport was considered the Bike Path, Miles 9 thru 13. This section is mostly flat except for a short steep hill, sort of detour near a section where there was under construction. The construction near the Airport resulted in lower turnout compared to last year according to the Race Director. Since we drove, we were not impacted by the construction. I was surprised that they had not offered free shuttle service from nearby Airports especially since Race Day was one day before the opening of the Boston Marathon registration. It was also surprising to me that they did not try to Market the race using the Boston Marathon registration angle. I would have.

Just after Mile 12, you start to make your way South and at Mile 13, I recall a couple of nice size hills on streets that we were now running on. This section of the course takes you through the heart of downtown, the Falls Area, and near the park where the GermanFest was being held. We went South through the downtown area, turned left and left again and were now headed to the Sioux Falls area. Since we were there the day before, this area was familiar and was a nice section of the route. Once near the Falls, you sort of wind your way through this section and we ran right next to the Historic Building we had coffee at the day before. I believe it was originally part of a Hydro-Electric plant of some sort. At this point we were at Mile 18.5 and my pacing still felt good. I had taken a GU at 14 and then again at 18, and had one left to take at Mile 22. I was pretty sure I was still on pace or slightly ahead of pace to qualify. The rest of the Marathon course was mostly along the Bike Trail which was relatively flat and shaded.

I think right around 20.5 my pace started slowing. Two friendly guys passed me and said a few encouraging words. I also noticed that one of them hugged an older woman. It turned out it was his mom, and he was very happy to see her. A couple more runners past me in the next few miles and I knew my goal might have been slipping away despite the fact that I was not wearing a watch and did not see one clock along the course. I was still feeling good and enjoying the race. I think it was just before Mile 22, that I saw the older gentleman I saw at Mile 1. At that point I realized I made a mistake in not holding back and running with him stride for stride. We exchanged some encouraging words before he gradually made his way past me and then gradually pulled away from me. Mile 22 for me is always tough.

In Hartford in 2010 when I last qualified for Boston, it seemed like Mile 22 slammed me right in the face while this day’s race felt more like a gradual fade. So when I past Mile 22, I took my GU and did a symbolic gesture of placing my empty GU packet right next to Mile 22 and under my breath said, “you are not going to get me today Mile 22, see ya!”  I was still in very good spirits, but was slowing as my legs became heavier and heavier with each mile. Christian mentioned that he was going to pace me for a few miles, so now I was keeping my eyes out for him. Again this section of the course was nice and tree lined and flat.

 It must have been just before Mile 24 when I spotted Christian. I was happy to see him and asked him how he did in the 5K. He mentioned he did well and that he thought he took 2nd in his Age group. The first 300 Meters or so, I think he was trying to feel me out and see how responsive I would be to his pacing. He was encouraging. As a PHD Mathematician, and having run with Christian before, he has a pretty incredible ability to calculate paces and times in his head, so my guess is he probably knew within a minute or so, how I was doing. I did not ask, but I could not help notice Christian checking his watch quite often. As we approached Mile 25, in my head I was thinking already that I was not going to qualify and that I was in the 3:28 to 3:31 range. Christian was describing the route in advance to me as we were nearing the finish.

We came out into a clearing and off a ways ahead I could see some what appeared to be apartment buildings and runners turning right. Christian let me know that after the right hand turn, we were about 250 Meters from the finish. We first sort of veered right and then did a hard right. I could now see the Finish line. I started my kick and was moving pretty good at this point. I almost wished I would have kicked sooner. I think I must have been 75 Meters from the Finish line when I could see the clock. I was not that surprised to see 3:30  something reading on the clock as I approached. I crossed the finish line and gave thanks to my mom and was very happy even though I missed qualifying by about 1100 Meters or so. I thanked Christian for running me in and he did not hang out long because he went back to get Gerry.

 Marathon #13, State #12 is in the books!

I later found out my official time was 3:30:11. I was able to check my time right near the finish. Under the old Boston Standard, I would have qualified by 48 seconds. I did not dwell too much on it. Plain and simple, I have more work to do and in the future I need to stick like glue to my Goal Marathon Pace. I made a mistake of not running with the gentleman I saw at Mile 1 and Mile 22. We congratulated each other at the Finish. It turned out that he was 55 years old and won his age group in a time of 3:26:59 and his name was also Ken. Cool.

I walked around the Finish Area, grabbed a couple chocolate milks and then went to watch the Finishers come in. As they were coming in, their names were being announced. Just before the 4 hour mark, I kept my eyes open for Gerry and Christian. Gerry was hoping to come in around 3:52ish. Gerry’s race did not go according to plan. Some leg cramping forced him to slow down and he came in around 4:15. I was able to cheer him on as he neared the Finish Line and he looked pretty intense. Once he crossed the Finish line he was all smiles. Gerry made a few friends along the way and introduced us to a couple of them. We talked, celebrated and hung out for awhile. Christian went to retrieve his 5K prize which wound up being a bag of bagels for winning his Age Group. We were all in good spirits as we waited for the Bus to take us back to our Hotel.

Since it was barely noon, we had another free day to celebrate since we were not driving back until the following day. Once back at the Hotel, we rested up some, showered and then hit the Restaurant/Bar in the lobby of the Hotel. There we had some food and a few beers and watched as the runners all came hobbling in, all smiles though. Once again I used the opportunity to do some Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, INC. Marketing and this time even passed out a few business cards to a couple of the runners Gerry met during the race. We discussed our dinner options and agreed to go to Granite City Brewery.

As much as I wanted to simply not think about the race and enjoy the day, I was already breaking down the race in the back of my mind. There is obviously a lot of happiness that comes with a BQ. As compared with Hartford, my BQ in 2010, I ran 21 seconds slower. The races were very similar for a many reasons as was St. Judes Memphis in December of last year when I ran a 3:31:45. I followed the same program for all three, ran similar courses and caught very similar race day weather. As an Engineer with some Quality Assurance background, I could not help but to think that I had established a very “in control” process. It was also safe to say that I hit a plateau and I would have to do something different in future training if I wanted to improve my times. Although I made great improvements with the Pfitzinger 18/55 program from 2007 through 2009, if I keep doing what I have been doing, I would probably continue to see the same results. I still remain confident that I have a Marathon PR in me even at the age of 47.

 

Marathon Year 10 Mile Pace Half Pace 20 Mile Pace Finish OA Pace
Hartford Marathon 2010 1:18:04 0:07:48 1:42:18 0:07:49 2:36:55 0:07:51 3:29:50 0:08:01
Delta 0:00:51 0:00:37 0:01:41 0:01:55
St Judes Memphis Marathon 2011 1:18:55 0:07:53 1:42:55 0:07:51 2:38:36 0:07:56 3:31:45 0:08:05
Delta 0:01:42 0:01:46 0:01:54 0:01:34
Sioux Falls SD Marathon 2012 1:17:13 0:07:43 1:41:09 0:07:43 2:36:42 0:07:50 3:30:11 0:08:01
Delta 0:00:51 0:01:09 0:00:13 0:00:21
Delta (Hartford/Sioux Falls)

A very “in control” process……but just too darn slow!

I did also run two other Marathons during the above time period, Boston in 2011. and Oklahoma City this past April. For Boston, I hired a coach and ran a 3:39, and for Oklahoma City I was injured early in training and ran a 3:43.

BodegaBrewPub

Bodega Brew Pub, 400 Bottled Beers

We headed out early in the morning with Gerry driving. We hit Winona MN for lunch and then once again stopped at the Bodega Brew Pub in La Crosse. We liked La Crosse and discussed coming back for a race perhaps the La Crosse Marathon in May. We later found out though that the La Crosse Marathon has been suspended indefinitely, which is a real shame. It is wonderful town for Marathon. I am not exactly sure why it is suspended. Perhaps a shorter distance race in La Crosse might be in our very near future. The drive went smooth for the most part and near Madison WI we stopped at the largest Culvers for food to go. It was like any other Culvers only about twice the size. I wonder what went into the decision to build the largest Culvers in the Madison WI area.

Even though I did not re-qualify for Boston, the trip was great. I had a enjoyable race and a fun time with Gerry and Christian. When we tallied the cost up, it wound up being about $350.00 a pop. Not bad for a long weekend getaway destination Marathon.

My mom is doing better in her recovery and has a ways to go. Because of the two surgeries, and the ventilator, and being bed ridden for so long, she has to relearn how to do many things such as standing up and walking, things we all take for granted. Of the 13 Marathons I have run, Sioux Falls SD was one of the most enjoyable. It most certainly had to do with witnessing my mom fight for her life, the tough road she is going down and celebrating her and what she has meant to me every step of the way.

Good Times, Noodle Salad,

Thanks for reading,

Ken