Vancouver Marathon Ahoy!

When I finished my first marathon in Portland, I was pretty sure that it was also my last. I’d trained with my buddy Jim Sheehy, and we were making it up as we went along – we just knew that we had to get a longer run every weekend until we were up close to 20 miles. So we did – we ran 20 miles the week before the race! We should have rested – and on race day both Jim and I suffered, tripping over the paint stripes in the road near the end. It was a long day – more than 4 hours.

My second marathon was just because – because I felt I could do better. I trained a LOT better, and had my brothers around for support, and I shaved almost 30 minutes from my time. I wasn’t hooked yet – but I was headed that way! I ran in Clackamas, Oregon – a nice folksy race with just a few hundred runners.

Frank and I ran in Portland again for my third, and his second. We were aiming for a 3.30 race and missed. Still – we finished in a very respectable 3.45 – and I was starting to get hooked. The thing is – they don’t get a lot easier – but I still learn a lot – how to train, how to rest, and, most important of all – what to do when it gets hard. Kinda like growing up.

Meredith sent me to my fourth marathon. It was a classic romance gone south and I wanted an aggressive goal – and qualifying for the Boston Marathon seemed like just the ticket. I hired a coach, ran 50 miles a week (and didn’t do much else!) and headed back to Clackamas. It was hot – 90 degrees at times – but I managed to break the 3.10 mark. I was officially hooked – and headed to Boston!

And that was next – my fifth where I trained harder than ever, aiming for a sub 3 hour race. My mom and dad and many friends made it to Boston that weekend to help (Dad trucked out to mile 17 to give me an energy gel, and mom staked out a spot at the finish line HOURS in advance!). I blistered in the first three miles (no, I didn’t wear new shoes or new socks or anything like that!) and it was grueling. I felt great otherwise (up until the last of the hills, anyway) and when I hit the finish at 3.03 I was thinking more about amputating my feet than I was about those 180 seconds.

My music buddy Joe was responsible for number six, along with my friend Rebecca. Joe was convinced that I had to run the inaugural Rock and Roll Marathon – and Rebecca was looking to qualify for Boston – so I was off to San Diego. The rock bands didn’t make their wake up call (we didn’t hear any music until mile 5 or so) and Rebecca qualified by a handful of seconds. My dad, my twin and my youngest brother were on hand, too – and that always helps at a race!

Jeremy and his wife moved to London, and he and I thought it would be fun to run that one together. Unfortunately, I won in the lottery, and Jeremy didn’t! Coupled with a very late notice from the London folks –number seven found me running by myself and severely under trained! Joe, Eve, Jeremy and Allison all made it to London, though – and they pulled me through to the finish.

A couple of years passed and number eight beckoned, along with the elusive quest for a sub three hour race. The Silicon Valley Marathon was near my mom, dad and sister –and I even flew home for a 20 mile test run a few weeks prior. I trained harder than ever – up at 6:00 AM and down to Lake Washington for grueling 9-12 mile mornings full of mile repeats, half mile sprints and more. I had my mom and dad, my sister and her family and a familiar course. And I didn’t have my day. As my friend Roger Hart told me after – sometimes you run the race you get, not the race you want. I missed that sub three hour goal again – but I did qualify for Boston.

And that was nine. I was running along the beach in Longview, Washington on New Years day and thought – why not? I was in great shape, I had time to train, and Boston always pulls, even though she didn’t treat me so well the last time. So I adjusted my training plan, and ran near race pace for my long runs – good practice, I thought. I had my dad, my twin, my cousin, my friends Andy and Emily – and I was ready. Somewhere near mile 8, though – I knew that I was running the race I was getting, not the one I wanted, and I finished in 3.29.

And that leaves ten, in just a pair of weeks. I’ll be running with by brother Frank, and I’ll have lots of good company – Puja, Frank’s family, Blugh, Marika and Dana, and the friendly people of Vancouver. It should be a pretty race. Frank and I are aiming at 3.30 again and we’ve put in the time. So on May 4th at 7:30, we’ll toe the line and look for the race we want.

If you’d like to come along for the run, please do! You can join in two ways – if Vancouver is a city you’d like to visit (and it should be a city you’d like to visit!) we’ll be there all weekend. Probably not a lot of fun on Saturday – lots of resting for me – but you can enjoy the great food and everything else that Vancouver offers. And then I’ll see you somewhere along the race course and we’ll make time lunch after!

And if you want to help from afar – just send a note. In races past, I’ve asked friends to “pick a mile” and send strong thoughts. You can do that, and when I hit that mile, you’ll be on my mind. Be sure and let me know if you’ll be doing anything special – some exercise of your own, maybe a pancake feed or some energetic music. Kudos to my friend Joe, whose good cheer and support (not to mention travels to Boston and London) sparked the “pick a mile” idea.

Cheers!

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